This idea is definetely one of those out there ideas, but I’ve been watching Digg closely and envision its ability to use the power of its users in another way besides just news.
Until the company made the correction, if you searched for the word “failure” using Google’s search engine, the first two results would be 1.) The Biography of President George W. Bush at Whitehouse.Gov and 2.) MichaelMoore.com. Why did this happen? The technology that caused this to happen is the reason why Google has a market cap of $146 billion and has offices all over the world. PageRank.
PageRank worked so well that Google became the search engine of choice over the years instead of the usual suspects: Yahoo!, MSN, AltaVista, Excite, etc. Yahoo! offered $3 billion and it was rumored that Microsoft was considering buying Google but later found out that the company was powered by Linux servers.
The way that PageRank works is that a bot checks to see how links between different websites are related to each other. Seeing as there are many people out there that associate the word failure with both George Bush and Michael Moore, PageRank picked up on it and moved those results to the top of Google searches. Depending on how credible a website is, PageRank assigns a score (1-10). Pulse 2.0 attained a score of 5/10 after writing about 4 months worth of content.
There are also other ways to manipulate various search engines by using what is known as SEO techniques and also by playing around with META tags in a website’s source code. Spam websites are out there and there is only so much that web crawlers can do to prevent them from rising to the top of search engines. What if a a large community votes for what websites are better for certain content based upon user searches?
Digg users are mastering the art of recognizing what news belongs at the top… on a daily basis. Imagine if Digg created a search engine in which users could vote the better websites to the top and the spam websites to the bottom. Actual humans will be far better at recognizing credible websites than any automatic technology.
Digg users tend to prefer receiving credit for the votes they put in (or how active they are), so voting for websites could also be counted to complement one’s profile. Its worked well for the news, so it could work for a keyword search engine.
Put a few of these things: next to the search results in a Digg search engine. The spam will have a negative number and the better websites out there will have positives. Of course it’ll be tough since a lot of the community may be biased towards certain company websites over others. For example, Enron may end up in the negatives, but Apple wouldn’t. Yet some of the content on the Enron website may be important.
The hardest part of getting this off the ground would be developing a web crawler search engine itself, but the Digg team look like they could handle it.
I just wanted to entice a little discussion. Readers, let me know what you guys think.