Application Security
11/4/2010
05:38 PM
Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
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Blekko Search Fails To Inspire

The beta service that uses slashtags to narrow your search's sites and topics has some good ideas but too many shortcomings.

Every year or so, a new search site pops up and people wonder if it has the ability to be a "Google killer."

But, outside of Microsoft's Bing, very few new search sites have been designed to compete directly with Google. Most aim at a specific niche of users who are looking for different types of capabilities (though most also probably secretly dream of getting acquired by Google).

This is definitely the case with Blekko, a search service that went into beta this week. The twist that Blekko has is that it makes it possible to easily limit your searches to just an approved set of websites, thus preventing the user from ever seeing unwanted sites, or sites used for spam, phishing and malware infections.

I like the idea of this type of search, though it isn't exactly new. Google makes it possible to limit a search to one site (for example, using site:informationweek.com would limit searches to the InformationWeek site), and desktop power search tools have also long had the ability to limit results to a list of sites.

However, in practice, the current beta of Blekko comes up short in more than a few areas. At least in my tests over the last few days, it appears to need more work before it is ready for regular use. So how does Blekko work? In the simplest form, you need to only do a search followed by a slashtag. For example, you could search on Palin/politics. The slashtag is basically just a list of sites that will be searched for that term. The first problem is that when using Blekko, you need to know if a slashtag already exists for the type of search you want to do. If you just go to the site and search on Passion pit/bostonbands, it will most likely fail.

Blekko has pre-created a list of slashtags but it is hardly comprehensive. And even if there is a slashtag that seems to fit your needs, there’s no guarantee that the sites that the slashtag will search are the ones you would want it to search.

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