Swickis now offer community answers to results, as well as a new ad product.
Personalized/social search provider Eurekster has added several new community-based features to its swicki platform. The new tools enable users to ask and answer questions within their communities, and those results will be added into search results conducted by other users through the swicki.
Eurekster has also launched a swicki Ads service, which allows advertisers to buy ads on multiple swickis individually. Later this year, Eurekster will add a channel-based capability for advertisers to make category-based buys across similar groups of swickis.
Swickis, which combine search algorithms with wiki-style collaboration, have until now focused on empowering site owners to create a customized search engine, said Steve Marder, CEO, Eurekster. But the company realized early on that the real value is in engaging users at a community level and leveraging their interactions, Marder said.
"We've been very focused on end-user behavior, as a key driver of determining relevancy. We realized if we could leverage community actions and expertise, and provide a tool set to publishers to capture that, that would be really interesting," Marder said last week at the AlwaysOn Media conference.
A Eurekster swicki uses index data from Yahoo, Ask, Feedster, and other specialized search engines. It adds value with behavioral re-ranking and collaborative filtering, to create results that are more relevant to a given community. It previously did this through implicit factors, using click stream analysis to analyze user behavior, which is reflected in search results and the "buzz cloud," a display of recently searched keywords weighted by popularity.
Today's launch adds explicit factors to the mix, engaging users to come in and contribute their expertise in a Yahoo Answers-type of way. Users can also write their own answers into the search results; these will be displayed once they are approved by the swicki owner. And they can vote on the relevance of answers, which will give it a boost in the results, but will not be the sole factor, Marder said. Future iterations of the service will incorporate user reputation, but at launch the service maintains data for each answer separately.
"In a Wikipedia world, we're not betting the farm on everyone coming in to contribute. We know most people will never contribute, but the ones that do will bring value to the community," Marder said.
Site owners can monetize their swickis with contextual ads from a provider of their choice. Eurekster has preferred relationships with Yahoo, Ask, and Business.com. Swicki templates provide a space for site owners to sell their own ads, if they wish.
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Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.
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