While John was hoping for an early retirement, the deal unfortunately fell through, so he’ll still be the predominant writer for John Chow dot Com. That only makes sense (and thousands of dollars in John’s case). Despite this, Mitchell Harper and I will still be around to do guest entries every once in a while, like this post, where I’m doing a ReviewMe review of Younanimous (pronounced like “unanimous”), a social search engine that aggregates the results from the powerhouses in the industry and then improves on it.
Who Needs Another Search Engine?
Good question. With so many to choose from already, what would make you want to jump off of the Google bandwagon and take Younanimous for a spin? Well, just as you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the Adsense basket, you may not want to rely solely on Google for your searches as well. Where Younanimous wants to set itself apart is that they aggregate the information gathered from Google, Yahoo! and MSN, and combine it with user-provided information to give you not the most numerous results, but rather the most relevant.
In addition to the usual short excerpts attached to each result, this social search engine gives you the Google, Yahoo!, and MSN ranking on the side, as well as information regarding the site’s Alexa ranking and Google PageRank. There are also several links to social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious, so that you can immediately add the desired page to your collection.
The Social Aspect of Social Searching
The process is still in beta — according to the Younanimous FAQ, it’s more accurate to say that the entire site is in “alpha” — but later on, they also hope to implement both a passive and an active “voting” system, wherein actual users, and not just spiders, tell the algorithm which results are actually the most relevant. This helps to bury the spam and minimize the effects of evil link-baiting schemes (we should all know the power of those by now).
When Younanimous officially launches, you’ll be able to get a free account to save your settings, voting results up and down. In your settings, you can blacklist pages or even entire domains from showing up in your personal listings. You can also tinker with the relative weight given to the three different search engines, what types of files shouldn’t be listed, and what extra information (Alexa, etc.) to display.
For the passive side of things, Younanimous installs a cookie on your computer that tracks which results are actually useful to you. How does this work? Let’s look at the example offered by Younanimous itself.
You do a search for “Social Search Engine” and you click the first result. It’s not what you were looking for at all, and is therefore not a useful result for your query. You press the back button and try result #2. Voila! You found exactly what you are looking for. But it’s more than that. Yournanimous is analyzing these results and has cast a vote for you automatically, saying that result #1 wasn’t what you wanted, but #2 was.
More Than Just Text
I can really appreciate the ultra-minimalist approach that the developers of Younanimous took in the aesthetics of the site. There’s no useless clutter to fill your computer screen, just like the main page of Google. It’s everything it needs to be and nothing more than that.
Also just like Google, you can click on over to look for images, in addition to the “normal” search engine results. And because it’s a meta search engine, you’re getting the widest range of relevant results. In the future, Younanimous plans to add another tab to let you search for videos, presumably from sources like YouTube and Google Video.
To conclude, my primary complaints are that 1) you’re limited to just a single page of results at this time (though that should change when they get out of beta) and 2) getting results can be slower, because they’re grabbing information from several sources. I’m not talking about an eternity, but it can take about a second and a half. Based on these early impressions, though, I’d say that Younanimous has a very good thing going. Check out their blog for the latest developments.