Does “social search” make any sense?

As several people are reporting this morning, the search engine Hakia has added a new feature called “Meet Others,” in which you can see whether other people using the tool are searching for the same things you are. I confess that, like Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web, I am wondering what the point of this feature is exactly. Do social networking features make any sense as part of a search tool?

I can see that if you were searching for companionship, for example, you might want to know that others were searching terms like “lonely” or “desperate for a relationship” or whatever your search might be. But how many searches would actually benefit from having a social component? Would you want to know that others were looking for the definition of “amanuensis” or the location of a good hardware store? I’m not convinced that really makes any sense.

5 thoughts on “Does “social search” make any sense?

  1. The only way I see social search being really useful is if your trusted group of friends work as a filter for results – so if my buddy conducted a similar search to the one I’m running, it boosts the results he clicked on (hopefully making my results more relevant).

    Seeing other users doing the same searches means squat.

  2. I would agree, Bobbie — that kind of social search actually makes sense to me. Using a search as a springboard for online chat doesn’t really… although I could see it being useful maybe if you were searching for a disease and found other sufferers to talk to, etc.

  3. I am searching on how to set my mp3 dll preferences on audacity. Someone else is searching for audacity for the same thing or something similar. Maybe they can help me find my issue and I could help resolve their since I ran into that problem before.

    Why not? Its a great feature.

  4. Fair enough, Mukund. But will anyone actually do that through Hakia? Or rather, will enough people do it to make it worthwhile? It seems to me you’d be more likely to do that through an already existing community such as Slashdot or something dedicated to the subject you’re interested in.

  5. I think everyone needs to stop dictating “how people should or will do certain things”. Most folks are creatures of habit and do what they are used to. There are existing communities I am sure, but by default I use my firefox browser for search. If I type something into my search and get results with links connecting me to people that are searching for something similar, I will be inclined to connect and ask – “hey did you find what you were looking for?”. I can see how this might “possibly” reduce the # of “frustrated” search users, who keep searching and give up.

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