Disclaimer: I’m an SEO by trade. I’ve been around the game since there was a game. That’s not said to toot my own horn, it’s said to prove a point. The point is that SEO is alive and well. While SEO continues to eat into the advertising budgets of every major corporation in the World, guys like Jason Calacanis still get off thinking that this industry is “bullshit”. And while he may not have the balls to use such language on his blog, I’m pretty sure I’ve done worse in my time.
Mahalo is nothing more to me than a failed business model that has been attempted before; Albeit by much more talented and accomplished individuals. Perhaps more importantly though — the model’s failure has come at much more encouraging and fruitful times for the search and tech sectors.
By now it’s obvious that I’m rubbed the wrong way by Calacanis’ claims, character and efforts with Mahalo. I trust that this and my previous blog posts invoke the same feelings on his end. With that said, I actually look up to Calacanis for what he has been able to accomplish in his career and personal life.
Still, Jason’s being extremely hypocritical here.
(1) Thanks for the feedback. Yes, it is ALPHA and ye it is never going to be as comprehensive as machine search.
(2) However, we are paying people well to make our search results and I think our SeRPs are really good. Take a moment to put our version of Paris Hotels, iPhone, Flatpanel TV, and Pizza next to the versions by google, yahoo, ask, and MSN. It’s clear we a) have no spam, b) are more organized, and c) have better links in less space.
(3) The goal is not to do everything… the goal is to do the top 10-25k search terms with humans using machines and partner with google for the rest.
Let’s just jump right in, no?
It’s an ALPHA product. I got that. Thirty two times thanks to Jason’s blog. So why am I seeing it on USA Today, the Boston Herald and even the Wall Street Journal, with none of those media outlets ever referring to Mahalo as an Alpha staged product?
Use of Mahalo itself (which is akin to jabbing a pen in your eye) reveals that:
What comes after Alpha?
1. After we hit 10,000 pages, Mahalo will move into Beta
2. Beta is typically the second major test version of new software
3. We will remain in Beta until we hit 25,000 human-built search results
When do you plan to officially launch?
1. Once we hit 25,000 human-built search results, we think Mahalo will be a full-grown search engine and we will officially launch
Okay… so in other words, when this human edited directory grows to the a certain point, it reaches a new level. Awesome… except that when I try to search for things, I end up with no valuable results at all. (More on this later)
Furthermore, if Mahalo is “never going to be as comprehensive as machine search” — then what is the point? I just have to ask this point blank… is Mahalo a search engine, or a human edited directory? It can’t be both, and we’re getting conflicting information. You’re telling us it is a human edited search engine, and you sir — are a liar. You’re not going out and scouring the ‘net for new and resourceful sites. You say so yourself!
(We will link to…) sites that have been operating for over one year. Sites under a year will be considered, but most will be placed in a “member-submitted” section at the bottom of the page until they hit the one-year mark.
Sweet…. let’s penalize new sites and content because they don’t meet a pointless criteria that your engine human editors deem to be important.
I love the part where Jason says that he thinks their search results are good. My guess is that he also has the cutest children, the most attractive spouse, and anything he flushes down the toilet smells like roses.
I tried to search for the suggested keywords that Jason offered to me too — but I found them to be confusing and frustrating… and I soon realized that they didn’t have much in the way of results for that specific phrase. Case in point — a search for “paris hotels” gave me the Mahalo Top 7 — which is really just 7 quick links that tell me nothing about the sites I might visit should I click on one of the non-descriptive links.
Then, Mahalo dishes out seven more links for multiple related searches (including “Paris Luxury Hotels” of which I wouldn’t have interest in) in more detail. Again… and again… and yet again. Seven links on what you want — 21 with descriptions on things you don’t.
In other words, Mahalo works like this… You search for something. If a “well paid” editor at Mahalo has weighed in on that specific result before, you might get seven quick links. After that, you’ll be bombarded with information that bears less relevance to your search needs.
I will credit Calacanis though. He is absolutely correct in that there is less “spam” on Mahalo. I searched for “spam” on Mahalo and got zero results. Then I searched on Google and found 219 million results. This guy is good.
Of course, Calacanis still thinks that his results are better organized. And, I continue to firmly disagree. Still, I’ll let you be the judge of that.
User Tip: this task is easier done and more enjoyable if you really do stick a pen in your eye while viewing Mahalo
Jason concludes this piece of his comment by indicating that they have more links in less space. Which is another way of saying that Mahalo will try to push you through to a search result with limited, if any, additional information on where you’re heading, and in 75% of the cases — you’re off to a site that doesn’t fit specifically what you searched for.
This is the best part of them all, so thank you Jason for saving the best for last. Again, we know that Mahalo will not be considered as a BETA release until they have 10,000 search results hand picked and under their belt. Furthermore, they will not be a full operating search engine until they have 25,000 results taken care of.
Jason: Assuming you actually want to succeed… Can you please defend “the goal is to do the top 10-25k search terms”. By your own standards, that makes you an engine that’s somewhere between a BETA release and a final release.
If that’s what full venture capital funding buys you these days… Rock on. I want a piece of that.
I’m not the only one who got the same cookie cutter response from Jason on calling out Mahalo on this. I saw the same comments literally copied and pasted on Scoreboard Media’s Blog. Way to promote the human element there Jason.
“Mahalo is all about creating the best search results possible. This, of course, means that we have to weed out all flavors of undesirable Internet sites. Consider us a spam-free oasis.”
If, by “oasis” you really mean “barren wasteland with links to Google results because they get it right” — I call a truce. You’re succeeding phenomenally.