Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The much-hyped Mahalo search engine is looking for part-time Guides to write search results for $10 to $15 per result.
Mahalo relies on people, not algorithms, to generate its search results. Since they are looking to produce professional-quality content, Mahalo is never going to grow as fast as a site like Wikipedia, which lets anyone contribute. In some ways, Wikipedia's success is proof enough that Mahalo is irrelevant in the age of user-generated content.
Would you rather read about Apple's iPhone on Wikipedia or Mahalo?
For another thing, it simply isn't cost effective to write about long-tail search terms, which is where the real power of human-powered search comes in. Not enough people will visit the page to make up for the cost of creating it. And for popular search terms, Wikipedia is likely to already have a much-scrutinized and frequently updated page.
But they have $16 million to burn from the likes of News Corp and Sequoia Capital to prove me and many other people wrong. That's about a million search results at $15 each.
Right now, only US citizens are eligible to become guides, but if they really want to grow, they will need to open it up worldwide. In countries where people earn less than a dollar a day, $15 a result is real money and real incentive.
If you're still interested, read the FAQ and apply here. A most wanted list is also available if you want to take a gander at what you'll be writing about if accepted.