Amazon Gets into ‘Social Search’


LiveSide blogs about a new “invite only” beta search tool/service that reportedly will compete with Yahoo! Answers and Microsoft QnA called Askville. Yahoo! Research scientist Cameron Marlow blogs more about particulars of the service (including its “incentive” [virtual currency] system) and its relationship to another, yet-to-launch site (formerly “Questville” and now “nownow“).

Will A9 be folded into this and will this be a stand-alone service/engine off the Amazon site? The answer to the latter question is: I’m sure. I would also imagine that A9 will play some role in the background.

But, given its recent retrenchment around A9 and this new service, it appears that Amazon is placing bets around this new brand and A9 will likely disappear over time.

Without seeing or using the service yet it’s hard to make any kind of assessment or prognosis. Amazon was an early pioneer of social/community features and collaborative filtering. Given that legacy it’s quite possible that Askville could become an effective competitor in “social search.” But it also could be a bust in the way that A9 has been, without sufficient promotion and too much complexity for users.

Incentives in communities are a mixed bag. They can help generate content more rapidly, but one must also have quality controls to guard against too-thin, bogus or incorrect content written purely to get the reward or otherwise “game the system.”

Wikipedia built a kind of information empire without offering anything to users beyond the ability to display their knowledge and contribute to a larger collective resource.

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