Blekko, a new search engine founded by Rick Skrenta and backed by several big name investors, is now officially available to the public. Blekko has developed a creative approach to search that relies on human input instead of complex computer algorithms. Users can insert slashtags ( / ) into their search queries to generate results that are specific to their exact line of interest. According to Skrenta, Blekko allows you to do searches “you just can’t do anywhere else. You can slash in the sites you like and slash out the ones you don’t.”
For example, if you want to find political blogs specifically focused on tomorrow’s election day, you can search for “election day /politicalblogs.” If you want to make sure you only see the most recent posts, search for “election day /politicalblogs /date.”
It seems like a pretty simple concept. Let users specify their search results so that they return only the most relevant information. Get rid of spam and say goodbye to pointless content farm material – two of the things Skrenta thinks are hindering today’s user experience. The approach is fairly old school considering the fact that both Google and Microsoft have for years relied on computer algorithms to help people find information online. However, it may end up being a welcome change for users who are tired of sifting through tons of results – many of which lack the value they want.
So how does Blekko work?
Blekko narrows searches to groups of websites that people – not computers – have deemed as being the most relevant sources of information on certain topics. Users can browse a list of hundreds of slashtag topics Blekko has already created to help make searches more relevant. These are known as “topic” slashtags. Some of the topics that already exist in the system include animal rights, cycling, fashion, fitness, movies, politics, plastic surgery, technology and shoes. Quite the spectrum, right?
Blekko also offers a list of “built-in” slashtags. These serve as a reference center to help users limit search results to information on the weather, news, traffic, Twitter, YouTube and more.
Obviously Blekko doesn’t have pre-set slashtags for every topic a user would ever want to search. In these instances, users can create their own personalized slashtags which they can either share with others or keep private. Even if they don’t want to share their own slashtags, users can still views those that others have made public.
Blekko doesn’t claim to be perfect. At least not yet. There is still the possibility that users will run across a page that seems to be spam, or one they simply don’t like. In those cases they can mark that page as spam and any content from that site will be permanently blocked from their future search results.
What Kind of An Impact Will Blekko Have?
Blekko has been in the works for the past three years. It raised $24 million in funding and found backing from big name investors such as Marc Andreessen, the creator of the first Web browser, and Ron Conway, an investor in Twitter, Foursquare and Google. However, at this point, it is hard to say how much influence this “slashtag search engine” is going to have. It’s doubtful that it will ever replace Google, but it definitely has the potential to attract a good following.
Check out the video below to get more information and see firsthand how Blekko works. Or, go ahead and try it out yourself by visiting http://blekko.com/.
(Unfortunately we were not able to embed the video for you here, but the image below links to it.)