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?
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?