Blekko search engine takes Wiki approach

Undaunted by the experiences of Cuil, Clusty and many other hopefuls, another brave company is launching a new search engine. This time, the selling point is that it’s a crowd-sourced affair which uses real live people to filter results.

Blekko chief executive Rich Skrenta claims that fully-automated searches simply yield too much spam and are too vulnerable to search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, allowing many sites to artificially boost their rankings.

“We realized we could make web tools that let users sign up and help make the search engine better,” he says. “If we opened up the process, we could not only get orders of magnitude more people involved than we could ever hope to employ, we could also create an open, accountable process around the search engine relevance data.”

The system works by allowing users to create ‘slashtags’ – sets of web pages covering particular topics. When these are added to a search query, results are restricted to those from these particular sites. It’s also possible to stay entirely within one’s political comfort zone by adding slashtags such as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’.

Further slashtag sets can be created by the company’s algorithms, and refined through user input. There are about 3,000 so far.

“Being able to go into a spammy category like health, personal finance, hotels or even lyrics and search just the best sites immediately uplevels the results,” says Skrenta.

The company has some heavyweight backers. It’s secured $24 million from investors including Marc Andreessen, who co-authored Mosaic, and Ron Conway, who has previously invested in Google, Foursquare and Twitter.

There’s more information, here.