Posted January 16, 2008 5:01 pm by with 11 comments

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Hakia, a semantic search engine, launched a social network of sorts back in October. The purpose of the network was to allow users to connect with others who typed in the same query.

While I’ve always wondered why you’d want to do that unless a search engine’s results were lacking, I figured it was about time to see how that idea was going after almost three months.


  • The network doesn’t require you to register, just type in the query.
  • You can contact the authors of the messages (if they’ve chosen that option), report abuse, remove your own messages and rate messages on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.


  • Limited number of queries with responses.
  • Inability to respond to other messages on the message board.
  • No dates on messages—no idea whether the person you’re responding to even remembers this listing.
  • Extremely unhelpful responses.
  • Few, if any, understand what the utility is there for.

For one query which Hakia listed among its popular rooms, [care health] (no kidding), there were fifteen responses. Not bad, right?

hakia social network for care health query

Well, it’s not so good, either, when 9 of 15 listings are job listings, two of which are completely unrelated to the query (yeah, I was looking for work-at-home opportunities under [care health], how DID you know?). The other six include people looking for doctors (no indication of where they’re located), random statements, and plagiarized news items.

Am I surprised? No. I still don’t understand why you would want to connect with other people using the same query, especially one as generic as [care health] (which, incidentally, is the same room as [health care]). A query that generic will give you fifteen different “right” answers from ten different people.

Judging by the responses I’ve seen, very few people have quite grasped the concept of why this social network is here, mostly preferring to use it for self-promotion, spam and the online equivalent of graffiti. It could be marginally useful, but not in its present state.

What do you think Hakia could do to improve this utility?

  • I’m with you. I tend to connect with people on social media that I already knew elsewhere. I guess I use it more as a way to strengthen relationships rather than forge new ones.

    In the screen shot are the bold phrases in the upper left the other person’s query?

    Most of us complain about search engines storing our queries because we want them to remain private. I guess Hakia didn’t pay attention to that.

  • Elder

    I am very interested in Hakia. The new semantic search technology compnies (Hakia, Powerset, Cuill) really have the potential to transform search and take locating information on the web to an entirely new level. But connecting with others with the same search? Beyond me.

  • Steve L.

    Steve B – hakia’s policies are stated clearly on their site: “Meet Others ‘who asked the same query’ is a new social networking service that connects people through their common search queries. Participation is voluntary and anonymous (by default)…hakia search engine does not ask, require, acquire or retain any personal information to identify users (name, address, phone number)…When you use hakia, our servers automatically record information that your browser sends whenever you visit a Web site. These server logs may include information such as your Web request, Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language, and the date and time of your request…Users of the hakia Web site may also have opportunities to opt-in to submit and have their information used or shared for specific purposes, for example in connection with certain promotions or contests, or in connection with posting information to the public portions of the Web site. If you provide contact information to us as part of a submission for posting (e.g., your MSN Messenger or Skype ID), this information will be made public on our Web site and may be used by third parties to contact you, unless otherwise specified by hakia. If you do not wish your information shared, it can be prevented by not submitting this information and opting in to such use.”
    In any case, I use and way more often than I use google. I mostly get what I’m looking for on the first page returned, without having to click on any other links.

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Steven Bradley—the bold phrase heading their comments are chosen by the person leaving the comment as a “title,” according to the form they filled out.

  • I have to agree that, concept-wise, their idea is not bad at all, but as Jordan has pointed out, there is a lot of improving and a lof of filtering which needs to be done, it will be interesting to see what this one will look like one year from now.

    Best wishes,

    Alan Johnson

  • Agree with Alan, but the time will show as far as this idea is good.

  • Sure, since it’s really hard to draw any conclusions given the fact that this one is only live since October. They have a lot of tweaking to do and, if they do their job right, who knows, the future might just be a bright one for them 🙂

    Alan Johnson

  • Greetings from!

    Thank you for your comments and feedback. As Steve L, has pointed it out the participation in Meet Others is voluntary and anonymous. The system’s precision will get better with increased participation. We agree time will tell if Web searchers would like to meet others – complete strangers- based on their information needs. We think they will in some cases. For example, if you are researching a rare medical condition, would you like to meet others who are searching for the same information and possibly suffering from the same disease?

    Happy searching at,


  • pepperspray

    ladies and gentlemen, all social networking places you know took years to get there. Whats the rush to make a judgment call using an example from a couple of months old service? I am sure you can find another example to make a good point. This is just bashing innovation and creativity. But the good news is services like this will do or die regardless of such commentary. You might as well replace the entire page with a single line “only time will tell”

  • Jordan McCollum

    It’s not being compared with social networks we currently use. It’s being assessed to see if anyone has adopted it for its intended purpose or found any utility in it at all. Yeah, we should usually wait two years before assessing any new web service. Right.

  • Wow, I actually forgot about this. I signed up a long time ago and totally spaced it. I like Hakia, too. Thanks for the reminder.