PreFound Enters Its Blue Period

    March 20, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The relaunch of the people-powered PreFound search service goes a little farther than the color scheme shift from orange to blue.

It’s a chicken-and-egg issue for PreFound CEO Steve Mansfield. He’s been lauded for the HydraLinks technology he and his company, iLor, previously developed.

The critical acclaim needs to be matched with popular acceptance, now that iLor has positioned its PreFound site for greater success. PreFound concept of search means the more user contributions it has, the better results will be for those users. Expanding the site’s index requires attracting active users who want to participate.

Mansfield told WebProNews in a phone chat that they want to continue building PreFound’s usership. The relaunch that just came online updates the look and feel of PreFound, the way users can navigate through it.

They have improved the tag-based search, by building what Mansfield called a ‘collaborative vocabulary’ based on user input. Personalization of search can be tweaked with their ‘Include Your Interests’ tool, available to registered users.

People can set three areas of interest, with three keywords for each area. Also, the option to find local results from Google can be enhanced by providing city, state, and zip code information in one’s personal profile.

Once personal areas of interest have been set up in the personal profile, using them in search takes place through choosing to include them, then adjusting the weight of each area by changing the slider controls for each one. The setting affect how the results appear.

If an authoritative result for a search resides on Wikipedia, it will appear at the top of the search results page. User Shared results appear next; if the PreFound algorithm thinks some of those results may not be optimal for the query, it will invite the searcher to create a group on PreFound about the query to improve the results.

No one goes away without some kind of answer. Below the Wikipedia and User Shared section, results from Google appear and add more options for the searcher.

Mansfield’s rationale for personalization comes from the growth of social networking. "Search specialization seem to be antiquated," he said, noting how so many people have their interests served by the MySpaces and Facebooks of the world.

That focus may be served best if PreFound can find a dance partner at the networking social. The technology seems tailor-made to work with an existing social networking presence. A partnership would go a long way toward boosting the quality and quantity of the results PreFound can deliver at a personalized level.