Rich Skrenta Talks Blekko as "The Third Search Engine"

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If you follow the search industry closely, or even just tech news, you've probably heard that there's a new search engine in town, from the co-founder and former CEO of Topix and NewHoo (which went on to become The Open Directory Project or DMOZ), Rich Skrenta. It's called Blekko, and it turns to the public to help make search results more relevant and less spammy. "We're applying the Wikipedia model to search," Skrenta tells WebProNews.

"Google and Bing really is the competition," says Skrenta, referring to Yahoo's transition to Bing results and Ask's search surrender. "All the rest are folded or gone away."

"The web's not getting smaller," he adds. "It's not stagnant."

"We think users can benefit from a third point of view on search," Skrenta continues. "Our goal is to be the third search engine," noting that search began with human curation, with the Yahoo Directory in the mid-nineties. Back then, it was basically, social search, he says. Back then it was more human-driven, but now, he says most new pages are not created by humans. They come from "spammers flooding the web with poor content."

"You don't want to search the world wide web for health," says Skrenta, implying that when you look to the web at large for results, the quality is going to be greatly diluted by spam and poor quality content.

I'd add that for something like health, this could even be the difference between life and death, so he makes a pretty good point. To counter this, Skrenta thinks the Wikipedia model is the answer. "We really need the world's help." The intention is to harness this model to build out every category in every language.

Can this be done? Can Blekko create enough buzz to get Wikipedia-like adoption or even editing? That remains to be seen, but he's clearly up to the challenge.

Blekko will no doubt face plenty of criticism as it continues on this mission. Wikipedia itself has of course, been the subject of a great deal of controversy over the years, but DMOZ has continued to draw a great deal of harsh criticism over the human editing that these types of sites are base upon.

Even if Blekko doesn't gain mass adoption the way Google or even Bing has, it seem to already carved out a place within the SEO niche, based on some of the tools it offers.

"We are being completely open about all of the data that we collect from the web," explains Skrenta. "All the crawl and ranking data that Blekko obtains, we don't want to put a black box around this and keep it secret. Google...they won't even show you your backlinks." Blekko does.

On Google, if you use "link:" it only shows you some of them, he says. Blekko, on the other hand, shows all your backlinks. In fact, Blekko utilizes about 800 servers in Sunnyvale dedicated to constantly crawling the web, simply to notice new backlinks to sites, according to Skrenta.

"You can come to Blekko, put in your site, put in '/link', [and] see all your backlinks. You can add '/date' and see your new who linked to you...within the last hour. Isn't that interesting?" Users can even add "/RSS" to it and subscribe to the RSS feed and "watch the Internet link to you in real time," he notes.

It's not hard to see why Blekko could catch on among webmasters, even if it doesn't find mainstream appeal.

Have you tried Blekko? Share your thoughts about the search engine.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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