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Most often lately, I find that I'd like to search for any site that is NOT a store or manufacturer, as I am looking for unbiased information - not somebody trying to sell me something. (Particularly if I am not looking for information on a product or service.) This seems increasingly difficult, as the search engines throw wanna-be sellers of things I don't want to buy at me.
I have an idea of how this could be solved, at least in part, for dedicated searchers. I'd like to see search engines attach non-mutually-exclusive "attributes" to websites and possibly also to web pages.
Attributes might include:
- hobbyist/enthusiast site
- review site
- industry council
- online presence of a print newspaper
- non-profit organization
etc. etc. etc.
A mechanism could be provided to use attributes in both the negative and positive in a search.
I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and he pointed-out that Google is already doing something similar, with their narrowed searchs, such as academic search, blog search, etc. The problem with this is that they don't cover the breadth of attributes I envisage, can't be combined in the same search, and can't be used in the negative.
Does any search engine have a feature similar to this, or are any startups working on it? (Any VCs willing to fund one? :) )
In the long term, I think our best hope for search being useful again (IMO, it is becoming increasingly useless) is with the handful of startups now working with AI and other techniques to UNDERSTAND queries and content, and move us away from the use of keywords.
But in the mean time, this could be a fix to an increasing problem of irrelevance. I think it would be less difficult to classify sites in this manner (though it may require application of some of the same techniques), and provide a selection mechanism for the user, than to fully "understand" queries and content.
If there's a tag or attribute to tell whether a site considers itself small business, major corporation or an unbiased source of information... and there's only one choice... webmasters would probably consider telling the truth. Doing otherwise will make their competition rank higher in the relevant category.