Human-powered search engine Mahalo has launched new social features to encourage users to create a profile and communicate with friends on the site.
The finance-hungry search engine relies on user participation to produce many of its search results and hopes this move will increase the amount of input.
Currently, Mahalo employs 60 full-time editors, 400 paid contributors and around 3,000 unpaid volunteers. This has enabled the search engine to add 1,000 new pages weekly.
With Mahalo Social, users can create and personalise profile pages, add friends, as well as get down to the serious business of recommending links for the search engine.
To avoid people adding spammy links, Mahalo’s team of editors will review user submissions before posting them on the site, though this will be time consuming.
Users will be able to track whether or not their links are adopted and Mahalo will explain the reasons if they are rejected.
According to Calacanis at Le Web 3:
“We don’t want to be as sophisticated as Facebook, but start to build trust relationships with contributors. On Digg, you know the people who are accepted but you don’t know who is being banned or why.”
Calacanis also told The Guardian that the move was not aimed at generating ad revenues:
“Mahalo doesn’t need to make money. Having social features like MySpace and Facebook is just a way of building pages.”
Mahalo has already raised $20m in funding, as well as seeking a further $20m recently. It is not short of critics.
But user numbers suggest it is making some progress – comScore says that the search engine has been growing fast since August and had over 850,000 users in October.