Mahalo has just launched several new features that entwine the human-powered search engine even further into social networking and online community building. The Mahalo Follow toolbar now enables you to post links to Delicious, Ma.gnolia, Mahalo Social, and Twitter with the click of one button. The sidebar now displays quick tips when you’re on sites like Twitter and Gmail.
In addition, Mahalo now lets you create “stub” pages (much like you can on Wikipedia). Jason Calacanis assures us on his blog that he has 50 full time people watching user-contributed content for spam and will not only remove spam, but might ban the domain and user as well.
For the purposes of this article, I decided to try the Mahalo Follow toolbar. I don’t generally use Delicious, and I’ve never used Ma.gnolia, so the cross-posting features aren’t as useful to me as they may be to others. If I could add the services I do use, it might be more interesting. I also didn’t love the fact that I had to give Mahalo my Delicious and Twitter login information.
The sidebar tips are potentially useful (at least until you have the ones you need memorized), but the sidebar itself takes up a lot of space. I also recently installed the Remember the Milk add on for Gmail, which shows up as a right sidebar, and I think this may be causing the Mahalo sidebar to have a funky layout in Gmail.
I also admit that I don’t get the sidebar in general. The help page says that it shows Mahalo content that’s related to the page you’re viewing. However, when I was viewing the Ma.gnolia page, the sidebar showed me how to make a dirty martini (perhaps because it picked up the word “mixed” in the “mixed martial arts” heading on the Ma.gnolia page. When I view my blog, it shows me content about Twitter, Biz Stone, and batteries, and I suppose that looking at my recent blog posts, that’s more relevant than anything else, but still not necessarily super useful.
As with much of Mahalo content, the best results seem to be that which are hand-picked by human editors, such as the new sidebar tips.
It remains to be seen how popular the new stub pages will be. Wikipedia has proven that users can get passionately involved in creating this type of content, and in the case of Mahalo, the pages will be overseen by Mahalo-employed editors, rather than volunteers, which may increase accuracy and objectivity. It’s not clear what advantage these pages have over existing sites such as Wikipedia, though (both in terms of what would motivate people to create them and to use them).