Blekko is a new search engine that uses “slashtags” to cull spam from search engine results. Blekko, which went live with a public beta today, seeks to recognize and avoid irrelevant landing pages loaded with pseudo content that bait web users for advertising and malware. Blekko slashtags also allow users to create vertical search engines that deliver results about specific topics.
How Blekko slashtags work
Blekko aims to eradicate the pointless links created by content farms that bog down search engine results. The founders of Blekko have worked under the radar for three years to refine the unique approach it calls “slashtags.” Slashtags allow users to fine-tune search queries for fewer results that include more relevant, useful information and less garbage. The slashtag directs Blekko to provide results only from sites that match the slashtag. To use Blekko slashtags for narrowing a search about global warming to climate related issues, the user types “global warming/climate.” The slashtag is “climate.” For conservative political views about global warming on Blekko, type “global warming/conservative.” For the most recent content on the climate related issues of global warming, type “global warming/climate/date.”
How Blekko develops slashtags
Blekko automatically provides edited results in seven categories it considers to be particularly polluted with spam: health, recipes, autos, hotels, song lyrics, personal finance and colleges. Blekko also provides pre-selected slashtags for various topics that streamline the search for users. Blekko has been refining its search formula with 8,000 beta testers who have sifted through web sites to compile a list of more than 3,000 slashtags. Blekko users can also apply to be slashtag editors and provide feedback on specific slashtags.
Blekko adds humans to the search equation
According to Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times, Blekko’s results can be more useful than Google’s. In Miller’s search for “pregnancy tips,” the top 10 results on both sites only had one match: cdc.gov — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blekko’s top 10 showed other government sites, a nonprofit group and established parenting sites. Google’s top 10 included OfficalDatingResource.com. A Blekko founder told the Times that it is difficult for Google’s algorithms to tell whether two articles on the same topic are generated by a content farm or written by an expert. Blekko is trying to add humans to the equation.