The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

When it comes to social software, I haven't always been extremely enthusiastic. There are plenty of bad things about sites such as Myspace and even Facebook. From identity theft to viruses that create vast botnets, social networking applications do present new problems. This isn't to say I haven't used a good handful of them (including the professional LinkedIn), it's just to say that they have their downsides.

Some of these appliances, however, can't be overlooked. They offer something totally new and never seen before. One recent innovation that is just starting to get more mainstream is social searching. Google has started dabbling with this with their new SearchWiki. The feature can be used on Google by anyone logged in with a Google account to either promote or remove a result from your personal listing as well as comment on any page. It is unclear, however, what effect this will have on a page's Google ranking in the end.

While Google is the largest search engine and therefore the largest to operate social searching, it is still a mainstream search engine, and it has its limitations when it comes to social search. That's where Scour comes in. Scour combines results from the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Live Search from Microsoft) with social searching methods. This means that the relevance of results for searches is ranked by the users themselves. This can be superior to the traditional algorithm-based search because unrelated results (which may contain sites with spammed keywords or meta-tags) typically get ranked down, as opposed to them getting ranked because of their keywords by search engines (this has been a tough problem that Google has worked hard to deal with). With Scour you can do everything you would expect to be able to do with a social search engine, such as comment on sites and vote on the relevance of results.

Scour, however, takes social search to new heights. With user-controlled options on how many top results you get from each search engine and the option to favor results from a specific search engine, Scour certainly offers more customizability than most other social search engines. Scour also has an innovative points system. For every search, ranking, and comment (up to one time per each search), you get a point. These points can later be cashed for Visa debit gift cards after getting an appropriate amount of points. Scour gets the money for these payouts from their advertising on the site. To ensure that nobody abuses the system, Scour checks all accounts manually before payout. This means they can ensure that the searches and comments aren't spammed or bot-generated. In the case of some, they promise only to remove points for those who mean no harm to the system. The check keeps those who are there only to earn, however, from ruining it for everybody. This has made it so that nobody has gotten an incredible amount of money from them so far. But it also means that unlike many other programs that offer you money or prizes for doing something such as viewing advertising, Scour's promise is not absurd.

For more information on how Scour works, or to get started, you can visit the Scour website. You do not need to be registered to see how a sample search works.


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