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October 29, 2008

Google SearchWiki

Google's experiment that allows users to vote and annotate search results is back and this time it has a name: Google SearchWiki. Justin Hileman is one of the lucky people who has access to the experimental feature: "Things are a bit smoother this time. Moving results is a nice, polished animation. I can't wait for more community features to show up."


Garett Rogers noticed some new messages related to SearchWiki in Google's translation console. Google describes the service as a way to "customize your search results with your rankings, deletions, and notes — plus, see how other people using Google have tailored their searches". You can promote or demote search results, add new web pages to your search results, post comments and read other people's comments. It's not clear whether user votes influence the overall ranking algorithm, but it's likely that this is not the case.


SearchWiki is not yet available to all users, but you can see a small trace by appending "&swm=2" to the URL of a search results page: an inappropriate header for "all SearchWiki notes".

The new feature is a more transparent way to personalize search results; this time, Google allows users to decide which search results are the most relevant and to share those findings with other users. Instead of bookmarking the results or saving them in Google Notebook, you can make them more visible on a search results page and find them when you search later. Unfortunately, Google's interface will become cluttered unless Google decides to hide the new options until you click on a link like "Edit the search results".

Further reading:
* Help page for the initial experiment from last year
* Edit search results FAQ

{ Screenshot courtesy of Keith Dsouza. }

85 comments:

  1. Just like search.wikia.com, of course.

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  2. Hey Anonymous, you might not have noticed, but our first experiments with this UI were in 2007, about six months before search.wikia.com added their UI. :)

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  3. P.S. Anonymous, just to completely debunk the idea that we copied Wikia, see my comment at the bottom of http://search.wikia.com/blog/2008/07/17/google-tries-to-copy-wikia-search-but-misses-the-point/ where I went into more detail in July regarding that misconception.

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  4. I guess Microsoft's launch of U Rank might have something to do with getting Search Wiki back

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  5. http://research.microsoft.com/projects/urank/

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  6. Anonymous + sanketvasa: nope. Google has been experimenting with this feature for over a year. The launch of a Microsoft research project in the last couple weeks or so hasn't affected our experiments in any way.

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  7. And just to dispel one more misconception that I saw a few people speculate on: if user A edits their search results, it doesn't affect the search results for user B.

    There is an option for users to go check out notes left by other users, but that requires additional explicit work--by default, users don't see other users' notes. And even if you do the work to see other users' notes, other users' changes don't affect your search rankings.

    So this purely modifies your own search results rankings. So if you spam the rankings, you're only spamming the rankings for yourself. ;)

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  8. google's approach to wiki is called knol, more an upgrade to about.com.
    what they call searchwiki most likely is inspired by digg.com, which probably also inspired wikia search.
    google should not use the word wiki in its products until it really understands and implements the WikiWay.

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  9. Matt, thanks for your clarifications. Maybe SearchWiki is not the best term to describe the new feature, but the main idea seems to be a more personalized search experience.

    Google has previously tested some of the features from SearchWiki: removing results (2005), reordering results (2006), annotating and sharing results (2006), adding web pages to the list of search results (2007), so this seems to be the results of more than three years of experiments, not a reaction to the competition.

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  10. We've started seeing searchwiki results in the Google SERPS, probably part of bucket testing though.

    http://connect.icrossing.co.uk/google-searchwiki-tested_982

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  11. I think Matt Cutts is spamming your blog!

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  12. Matt,

    Thanks for the clarifications. I have to admit I'm skeptical of the merits of individual users re-ranking search results strictly for their own use, but at least I'm reassured that Google hasn't created something so blatantly spammable. I have major philosophical problems with Google's black box approach to relevance, but I give you guys credit for being pretty intelligent. :)

    Daniel

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  13. Wild speculations: I guess this feature is a subset of what coworkers at google see - depending on the role your login plays additional power could be connected to your action, reflecting on the algo in the long run?

    It could be a good tool to fight spam (or "not relevant" flaws in the algo) better... Wonder where that road leads to...

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  14. I still want to be able to block certain sites from my search results.

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  15. This being my second post and second time off topic I hope you all will forgive me. Last Time I mentioned that Grand Central had asked me to add minutes to my account but no one else had seen this. I have now seen it repeatedly and I am no longer able to call out from my account. I have emailed the GC team with screen shots at every stage and I'm awaiting there e-mail back

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  16. It seems pretty nice. The animation is smooth anyway. Do promotions affect the results anyone else sees?

    Also, pet hate, how the hell do I remove Google Notebook? It seems to be impossible.

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  17. People will cheat it.
    Be sure. Bots as well.

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  18. I'm like Ortzinator, I want to completely block certain sites from my results. Not based on search words, but completely.

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  19. "SearchWiki is not yet available to all users..." I'm the unlucky one who got this future available.
    Because of this my browser doesn't show the page I have already visited, as visited. Google redirects to a page of its own firs and only then, to the site I was originally going to. I completely hate this future. Is there a way to disable it? If not Google should make an option available. Signing out is not an option.

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  20. I´ve been testing searchwiki this morning. It´s amazing. I love it.

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  21. Personally This whole thing really annoys me - I just want search results, with personalisations that happen in the background in an automated way.

    I don't want to have to interact with the SERPS any more than entering search phrases and clicking a link - there's plenty of data that you can get from those actions to help personalise my page

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  22. Completely breaks google preview addon for firefox.
    This is the second time i've gotten picked as google's test subject(first chosen "tester" of the now new and hated igoogle page) and I am just about fed up to the point where i'm looking for alternatives to igoogle.

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  23. I think everyone on here should take a deep breath and get out more, especially the terminally patronising Daniel Tunkelang (8.33 am -- I’m so glad he gives me credit for being pretty intelligent, although Daniel's mistaken about me being pretty).

    But then again, I could be mistaken about the getting out more bit.

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  24. How do I turn off the feature without signing out?

    It breaks the Google Icon Firefox addon, which I find to be a more useful feature.

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  25. 1. Search wiki is an inappropriate name for something that isn't really a community application.
    2. How do I turn it off? It adds visual clutter and its useless.

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  26. I look at SERPS to get an idea of the quality of websites and to compare my work with others, not just for searching. I think there are other more useful tools that Google could implement.

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  27. Matt Cutts,

    This sounds like a great start in reviewing your past RE searches. I was wondering if your team is working on a way to go back to the last place in your last search.

    I do a lot of research on a single topic and sometimes get several hundred hits or more. Most of the time I can only read a 10 or 20 articles before I have to shut down. The next day I have to re-enter my search and painstakingly roll through many, many pages to get back to where I left off.

    Your thoughts,
    wrthailand

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  28. So, no way to turn it off yet without logging off? It borked one of my userscripts, so I need to do some repairing. It would help if I could easily toggle it, for said purpose.

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  29. Actually, there is a way to see the standard results without logging out, but it's only temporary until the feature is localized: add &hl=all to the URL of a search results page.

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  30. kill it with fire!

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  31. I like it. I'm always excited when Google rolls out a new product.

    I am waiting, however, to be able to easily see public notes by other users.

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  32. I'm really annoyed that it breaks my firefox add on google preview, which is what I use to recognise sites that have previously been useful. A combination of the two features would be a much preferred option. I won't be using it until it supports the google preview add on. Anyone know how to turn it off in the mean time? And no signing out isn't an option. Come on google!

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  33. How can I turn off this off? Too much visual clutter to a simple interface.

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  34. It's interesting to see what will be Google's next move.

    I don't think they introduced this feature just for making the user experience more fun.

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  35. Probably Google is going to use the users' feedback to refine its search results.

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  36. hmmmm looks like a rip of Wikia? unless Google own Wikia?
    Take a look:
    http://search.wikia.com/

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  37. Google is like McDonalds... too worried about claiming how many hamburgers you've sold and not worried about making the hamburger better. SERPs are full of garbage. Hope this new product helps in the long run.

    http://www.pubexec.com/blog/why-web-stinks-print-doesnt-73949.html

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  38. Google, give an option to disable SearchWiki.

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  39. Agreed. This just showed up for me in the last few days and I hate it. I just want results to click. I wish I could disable it.

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  40. Most things Google does rocks. IMO this is not one of them. Hopefully this is trashed soon!

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  41. What happened to the thing that Google use to have that you see how many times you visited a webpage? and please make it so we can disable SearchWiki if we want. Thanks

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  42. I have used Search Wiki for about 12 hours and I now thoroughly hate myself. I can now freely admit that Google and Yahoo and even MSN and Live do it better than I do. I got all excited this morning and promoted all of my favorite sites for all of my favorite search terms. Then, by the end of the day when I wanted new info...guess what? Yeah, same old info! I have handcuffed my ability to learn. It's like going to your local library and roping off all of the aisles except for your favorite reference books. Isn’t this basically saving a website into your favorites? Heck, we already have that ability!

    I was wrong, you are right. I am stupid, you are smart. I am ugly, you are beautiful! Please tell me what is best for me, bring back normal search!!

    Sincerely,

    Newly Dumber

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  43. I'd like the ability to turn it on or off easily. I won't want to use it most of the time (the clutter inhibits easy visual scan), but for special instances I think it might be quite useful.

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  44. This realy is BS. I want to disable this thing. It won't even let me right-click the buttons so I could remove it with a greasemonkey script.

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  45. So far, searching Google for a way to TURN OFF SEARCHWIKI has been completely fruitless. And I thought all this time that only Microsoft pulled this kind of "you must do it our way" garbage. Is Google the new Microsoft?

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  46. =================================================
    =================================================

    ====**** HOW TO TEMPORARILY DISABLE SEARCHWIKI ***====

    Add &hl=all to the URL of a search results page.

    You could also edit Firefox's search box: in Windows, open c:\program files\mozilla firefox\searchplugins\google.xml and replace

    <Param name="q" value="{searchTerms}"/>

    with

    <Param name="q" value="{searchTerms}"/>
    <Param name="hl" value="all"/>

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  47. Interesting theory here... maybe its a smart way to introduce new advertising pages ???

    http://www.gossipcraze.com/gossip/google-searchwiki

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  48. Searchwiki is shit get rid of it

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  49. Searchwiki just showed up, without any explination or guide for use. And no way to opt out. I can't yet judge it, but shouldn't I at least be told what it is and asked if I want it?

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  50. I want to turn the damn thing off.

    I want to turn off the damn navigation bar on my igoogle page too.

    What part of "i" doesn't google understand? "i" means its mine to set up how "i" want.

    it's pretty simple - user features should always always require opting in and never have not have a way to opt out.

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  51. Today Google died :x

    Let us easily turn off this crap :(

    Nice way to confuse your audience with no explanation

    RIP

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  52. Please make this 'feature' go away. I hate it. It clutters my interface and I'm not going to spend my time reviewing search results for you.

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  53. I want to turn it off, it clutters my page.

    nasty.

    Also I can;t see the point in it, if I searched for something so regularly that I needed to rank the results then surely I would just bookmark those results that I found useful. Why would I bother to nudge the position of them.

    I don;t see the point and would like to turn it off.

    As it is this 'feature' just made me LOG OUT

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  54. This is a fantastic feature. I just love it. It will allow the community to promote their favourite items and it will make the searches more relevant. Thank you google for that.
    Cheers
    Behrang Javaherian
    http://www.beyondng.com

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  55. I fully agree with "Simulated Person", I bookmark whatever I find useful, keep the rest of the links that doesn't deserve space in my bookmark toolbar, in a text file, this "voting system" to boost your favorite links is nothing but annoying clutter.

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  56. We've given some thought on this new release on our site

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  57. I agree. The feature is just ignored or makes me log out.

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  58. Shyam Kumar can do a better job

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  59. At iCrossing we've been analaysing the roll out of SearchWiki and what the impacts of this could potentially have on brands.

    Check out the full post from Jonny Stewart (Head of Natural Search, UK) on our blog, Connect.

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  60. This is rather interesting, IMO, though it did come as a surprise some people might not appreciate. Not to mention there was nothing to explain what just happened, how to use this and how to turn it off if I'm one of the said people.

    I like the idea in general, and don't necessarily agree with people who say that bookmarks and text files beat the purpose of SearchWiki as I'd rather keep my bookmarks in order and not clutter them with various pages I found useful, yet may not look at again anytime soon. While Firefox gives us the ability to tag bookmarks for easy access, too much of them can still make it annoying to search through even with tags. In cases where I don't have access to my own machine, bookmarking can even be a disadvantage. With Google's bookmarks out there, I'd still rather keep mine local to machines I physically own. Search adjustment, on the other hand, is not as "sensitive" in my opinion, so SearchWiki can make my life easier there.

    I believe it's a more "set & forget" type of feature where you can improve subsequent search results in case and you'd stumble over a similar search again. It takes no disk space, you don't need to worry about backing that stuff up or browse through all the records periodically - it's there as a cache in case you need it.

    Just let uninterested people unsubscribe, be careful about being intrusive and this tool might gain some more positive feedback.

    P.S. It works on Firefox3.0.4 (Linux), but apparently it is afraid to be activated on a 3.1b2pre version (Windows). It might be failing to recognize that it's actually Firefox (as the name itself is "Minefield" for this beta) - is there any way I can activate SearchWiki on this regardless of the detection?

    --IceDragon/QuickFox.org

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  61. So far it has seemed okay except for the problem I'm having now. I can't find where to use the Notebook feature. I use to be able to click on the "Note This" to the right of URL in the search result pages, but that's gone. Even the instructions tell me it should be there (for Notebook Help - that should be updated). I tried searching and this is the best I can find for getting help.

    How do I use Notebook like I use to for noting search results???

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  62. Any way to subscribe to targeted SearchWiki updates? Like if someone adds a comment about my site, bumps it up or removes it? Is there a feed for any of this activity?

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  63. In a way, it's useful to have a personalize search result... but how many users out there would like to save the search result, i could just easily bookmark any site that i've searched....

    please google, have the option to turn the feature off... don't like it if i have to logout to turn it off

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  64. I really like the idea of google searchwiki feature which allowing us to customize our search results with the promote icon.

    Wouldn't it be nice if google could allow more searchers to input comments on their search results for their favorite search?

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  65. This idea is looking great. Search customization is really a rich method to follow for better results.

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  66. away to turn it off would be helpful. it's visual clutter if you're not using it. the icons' lightness is turned down to blend in, but they still attract the eye. i've started logging out to search. i don't disparage the usefulness of this feature and how it can benefit search for everyone who uses google. but google offers the ability to turn off other features, such as search history, and it seems like it could be easy to turn off the searchwiki feature.

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  67. Yes, give users a way to turn it off or opt-out. I've had to revert from Chrome to Firefox because the latter has an add-on that allows me to turn off SearchWicki. Please add this feature. The sooner the better.

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  68. Please give me a way to turn this off. I've hated it from day one, I now use live.com for searches, since I like to stay logged into google for commenting.

    It isn't a feature I'm going to use, and would like to get rid of the visual clutter.

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  69. I have tried to find information about a very interesting geological feature in Gunnison Colorado.I have tried every descriptive permutation I can imagine to get "some information" about this interesting feature as well as all the boolean combinations I can configure but because the area is very popular for mountain biking then geology does not even figure in any of my results.
    Personally I think searching for anything with Google has become one big boring chore.....If the question you are asking does not concern an attachment to "advertising" in some form you are better off just going to the local library....making searches more relevant is just another way to create a more profitable merry go round....it has nothing to do with making a search faster or more concise.Instead of a million pages then maybe you might end up with half a million....That is no deal at all, until we can all live to be 500 years old then ploughing through thousands of pages looking for a simple answer to a simple question will be just what it is.... a waste of time....Google you are just one big bag of search BS.....

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  70. fuck this crap called search wiki i mean

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  71. Please give me a way to turn this off. I've hated it from day one, I now use live.com This idea is looking great. Search customization is really a rich method to follow for better results.

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  72. Is hl=all the "official" way to turn this off? That seems to be the easiest, and workable, with the modifications to the firefox search plugin, but it seems that eventually Google will have SearchWiki in other languages, and this fix will stop working?

    I thought google had promised not to clutter up the search pages when they first set out? Maybe they only said the home page, which I never use anyway.

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  73. This one is awesome.thanks for the info.Great Job!

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  74. I believe Garett is right with the voting it would be to easy manipulate the system which of course is what Google is trying to avoid. Good post.

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  75. Why can't we group our SearchWikis? It would be easier for a sysadmin to just give a search link to someone with the best results of the most common searches focused. This way, when something changes, they can always just change the focused results for a particular Wiki and the people could do a contextual search for information, such as connection problems, GUI problems, etc. This way, we don't need to write a lot of information and we don't even need to particularly update anything.

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  76. I have heard that Google is going to come out with a new customizable search engine called Searchwiki. I'd like to know how it is different from the usual Google search engine?

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  77. This tool is great. The only question is will it have any influence in the position of the page in the SERPs after a consideble number of people move a specific listing result up?

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  78. WOW!!
    Great way to bookmark pages from your search results!! Do you think there is any relation between searchwiki and google SERP rankings!!

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