Google Adds Search Commenting

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has unveiled technology that allows search users to customize their results and even post comments about particular sites for other users to read. However, the firm has dropped a separate unbranded search engine which it had been using to test out new features.

The main feature of the new SearchWiki tool is a series of buttons which appears next to each result whenever you search while signed into a Google account (such as Gmail). The first, an arrow pointing upwards, allows you to move a site up the list of the results. (After doing so, you also then get the option to move it down again.) This doesn't affect any other user and simply changes the list of results that appears next time you search for that particular term.

This particular feature seems fairly pointless. In a company blog, Google suggested "Maybe you're an avid hiker and the trail map site you always go to is in the 4th or 5th position and you want to move it to the top." That makes little sense as a happy user would just bookmark the site in this situation. (Source:

The second button, marked with a 'x', will remove the site from future searches. That could be more useful: for example, I occasionally search for the term "by John Lister" to check for unauthorized reproductions of my articles. This would allow me to remove popular results which refer to other writers by the same name. Again, this only affects the results you see on your own computer.

The third button, a speech bubble, allows you to make a comment about a site. A link at the bottom of each results page (which is not particularly well signposted) allows you to see how other people have ranked results for each page and what comments they made for each result. In time this could prove useful, but at the moment most of the comments appear to either relate to the comment system itself, or to the subject of the search (example: giving political opinions about 'Barack Obama' rather than telling you how reliable or biased particular sites about him are.)

At the same time as launching SearchWiki, Google has ditched SearchMash. This separate search engine sans Google branding was first used for testing out new features. Some of the ideas the company tried therein included having several different types of results (such as web pages, images and videos) appearing on the same page, or having an infinite scrollbar allowing users to look through every possible result without having to click through to a second page. (Source:

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