Enjoying Mahalo – Social Search that Works

I’ve been using Mahalo, Jason Calacanis’s “people-powered” search engine for about 5 months – and am really enjoying it.

Mahalo uses “guides” to build our SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) so that the most relevant results are always given the most importance. The problem is the amount of manpower it takes to build out all of those results. So, besides the actual Mahalo employees, the service looks to crowdsourcing to fill in the results – and will pay them for their work (Mahalo Greenhouse).

From Mahalo.com

Then came Mahalo Social, which added a social component to the service and Mahalo Follow, a way of sharing the links you upload to other services including De.lic.ious, Twitter, Pownce, Tumblr, Facebook, Google Bookmarks, Jaiku and StumbleUpon. This was actually the piece that helped me get more involved with StumbleUpon, as Tamar Weinberg – AKA Queen of all Social News sites – was always after me about. Using a quick combination of keystrokes, I can easily post a link to all of these sites, or any combination I’d like.

As an aside – I rarely post links to Twitter – I’m protective of my network and don’t want to spam them with a lot of links.

But what makes any company – especially a startup – is the people. And everyone that I’ve had contact with from Mahalo has been impressive. If I send a feature request or some bug report, it’s been rare that I don’t hear from someone within the hour. Jason has been very gracious about forwarding reports to the right people and I always hear back with solutions or a commitment to fix the issue. This has really added to my enjoyment of Mahalo – even when my links are denied (or added!), it’s with a very polite note.

So who uses Mahalo? I”ve started using Mahalo for search results – it’s fun to see what people recommend and I really enjoy the Guide Notes. But the real value is for people who are looking for simple, specific results, or find Google results too confusing. It’s always hard for me to remember that most people don’t use the Web like I do and need easy tools that make them comfortable. Then I spend some time with my sister, an elementary school teacher with her first Mac, who doesn’t know what Twitter is and is nervous about shopping online. So I bookmarked Mahalo for her. With the easy and clean user interface, she’ll be able to find whatever she needs quickly (Google results are also included on the page).

And that’s valuable to both of us.