Today when checking my information traps I came across an press release from Inventerprise LLC, announcing a new upcoming search engine called Jatalla.. And while it sounds like a cool idea, I’m worried about a) relevance, b) users getting motivated to participate and c) billions of bots jumping in to mess things up.
Here’s the basic concept according to the press release: “Through Jatalla.com, any registered user can submit a vote called a “lexivote”, which consists of two parts: (i) a word or phrase and (ii) a list of up to three URLs. This lexivote is counted along with all other lexivotes that include the exact same term. Thereafter, when a user queries the search engine using that term, a list of URLs — ranked according to these lexivotes — is returned. Each user is limited to only one lexivote per search term.”
So you enter a word or phrase — say, search engines — and then submit up to three URLs — say, Google, Yahoo, and Ask. (Or whatever.) Or, in the current parlance, you enter a tag and three URLs appropriate for that tag. All these submissions are aggregated by Jatalla and returned as search engine results according to the number of “lexivotes” they have. The search engine is expected for beta release in July.
I can see one scenario where this would be really cool and two things that bother me a lot. Let’s start with the two things:
1) Is a tag going to be a enough? From what Jatalla is describing it sounds like a lexivote is a lexivote is a lexivote. But that doesn’t take into account things like geographical area — maybe someone is looking for something offline — and more complicated searches. Maybe I’m looking for a hospital that offers outpatient surgery. Maybe I’m looking for a hospital that offers hospice care. What are the chances that I will be able to articulate this properly and get an appropriate lexivoted search result?
2) Robots. I’m very worried that a bunch of bots are going to take this wonderful Jatalla idea and spam it to within an inch of its life. Yes, only registered users will be able to submit URLs, but how much of a hurdle is that going to be? I don’t know; I can’t see the registration process. (You can see screen shots of other processes from Jatalla at http://www.jatalla.com/demo.php.
Now the really cool scenario. I have always wondered what it would be like if a more structured search engine — that weighs and relevance and popularity — were chunked onto the back end of a tagging site like Del or RawSugar. Once you entered a URL, you’d be prompted to pick the most important tag or two for that URL (maybe you would get suggestions for appropriate taxonomy, maybe you wouldn’t; this would give tagging some of the structure that anti-taggers are always complaining about) and then it would be tossed into a search engine. Results would be ranked based on the number of tag votes, the number of people who tagged it in the first place, etc. (Note that while this would be interesting it would not address concern #1 above.) Jatalla on the back of Digg, for example, would be something else.