Hung Truong: The Blog!

Mahalo: Worst Idea Ever (This Month)

June 01, 2007 | 1 Minute Read


What’s with all these stupid startups that have been coming out recently? First Truemors, and now Mahalo!

Mahalo is a “human powered” search engine. Apparently humans can do a better job of giving search results than an algorithm can. The idea is that Mahalo pays grunts to make a personalized page for a common search term, like “iPhone.”

But let’s look at the results page for iPhone in both Google and Mahalo… First result is Apple’s iPhone page. On both Google and Mahalo. Second is… Engadget. For both. Third in Google is a link to Google News, which is probably more relevant than Mahalo’s third, which is Wikipedia. But Wikipedia is Google’s #4.

So thanks, Mahalo. You’ve done a pretty good job of giving me GOOGLE’S SEARCH RESULTS PAGE! Oh, and if the search term you’re looking for doesn’t exist on Mahalo yet, you get Google’s search results…

It’s probably just naive to think that humans can do a better job of giving relevant (up to date) search results by hand. It has to be stupidity to think that this can scale. There’s a reason that algorithms are invented. Perhaps Mahalo isn’t trying to compete with Google. But then, what is it trying to do?

Also, I liked this idea better in 1996 when it was called