Mahalo Answers – new feature with a twist.

Jason Calacanis has been active on Twitter promoting Mahalo Answers, the newest string to the Mahalo bow.  It’s a question and answer service with an added twist. You can earn some virtual dollars that can be converted into real dollars with Mahalo taking a 25% cut. Techcrunch have written about this:

Mahalo Answers throws in a twist. If someone really wants to encourage the best answers, they can offer a tip in “Mahalo Dollars,” which can be funded through PayPal and are convertible into real dollars once a member has earned at least 40 of them. For those of you who remember Google Answers, it paired questioners with vetted researchers who found answers for a fee. This is slightly different in that questions are not assigned to a specific researcher. As many people can answer it as they want and all compete for the tip. Furthermore, the tip can be rescinded by the questioner if he or she is not satisfied with any of the answers.   

Their thinking is if questioners rescind on too many tips no-one will answer their questions in future. They also offer points to people who ask and answer questions. If you provide the best answers,  add links or find friends who can better the service you get more points and can earn yourself a coloured belt, much like the system used in Karate. The higher you go the more of an ‘expert’ you are considered. The thinking is that people who accrue points and attain ‘expert’ status will be able to charge higher fees for their services. Techcrunch quotes Calacanis as saying;

If you can make knowledge into a game and help people make living, it is very powerful.

I’m sure appealing to people’s egos won’t hurt all that much either.

The clever thing about all this for Mahalo will be that they will be watching this closely and using the information accrued here to bolster the information they provide on their search pages. (Mahalo is a human powered search engine- people construct the pages you get when you search for a topic.) This can only help them to grow stronger in the search engine market. I know that I am always happy when a topic I’m searching has a page on Mahalo. I can guarantee the results are going to be worth my while.

It’s just gone live and some of the questions are a bit feeble, but others are interesting. Take a look. Maybe you can provide some answers and start earning yourself some Mahalo dollars. If I was a stay at home Mum instead of a full time employee, I know what I’d be doing. I’d give daytime TV the flick (not that that would be hard!) and I’d be extending my mind and income by contributing to this idea.  

 

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Mahalo -now here’s a search engine worth talkin’ about!

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! (Those of you who live in Australia will remember this catchcry from Marcia Hines on replay constantly from Hey, Hey it’s Saturday – really showing my age now – it’s 42 for those of you interested!)

Mahalo is a search engine worth looking at. I mentioned it recently when I wrote a post entitled ‘Big Think – Web 3.0 in action’. That post talked about the notion of Web 3.0, the semantic web, characterised by human intervention and thought processes. Part of that post read;

 a new phase of the internet – internet 3.0, where the wisdom of crowds (web 2.0) is being supplemented by another layer “of truly talented, compensated people to make the product more trusted and refined.” (Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis)  

The quote derived from Newsweek writer Tony Dokoupil and his article, ‘Revenge of the experts’.  This was where I first discovered Mahalo and was impressed with what I saw. I was even more impressed today when I was working with a group of students completing research for their International Studies project. The task was to find information on a major political figure. I remembered Mahalo and directed them to this new search engine. We now have an interactive whiteboard in our library which is just fantastic and so incredibly helpful to demonstrate new apps. They were impressed with the results we were getting and so was I. You know someting is hitting the mark when students are asking ‘what’s that’ and tuning in when you are showing it to someone else.

I really like the way results are arranged but you have to make sure your students scroll through all of the results to see the vast array of differing media returned in a search. We did a search for Aung San Suu Kyi – the Burmese political activist. It began with the Mahalo top 7, and then we had to put up with some ads by Google – I suppose this is a small price to pay for search results that have been cast over by human eyes and are appropriate.  What followed was news, background and profiles, blogs and support sites, photos, videos, a timeline, related searches and user recommended links (there were none of these yet, but as it gains popularity no doubt this will grow). It was an excellent array of results – far more useful than a page of links from Google. Another teacher joined us and wanted to do a search for the Rwandan genocide. When we got the results she was amazed to see links to many sites she had found after trawling the web for hours – quite the revelation was Mahalo for her.    

The sidebar offers many more delights. A guide note providing you with fast facts, the ability to email the page and provide a personalised message with your email, you can share the page with your social networking sites and an explanation of icons they use. Some interesting information is shared in their ‘about this page’ text box;

  • Mahalo’s goal is to hand-write and maintain the top 50,000 search terms
  • Each Mahalo page is quality controlled through a strict editorial process
  • You can contribute and earn money by writing great search result pages in the Mahalo Greenhouse

You can also subscribe to the rss feed from the page so any updates will be delivered to your reader. 

I think it looks like a fantastic resource for students in secondary schools and I’m going to start plugging it with my colleagues. If they don’t have a search results page for a topic you are searching for you can enter a request to have them get one made – they’ll email you when the page has been completed. Alternatively, you could make the page yourself and submit it to their Mahalo Greenhouse and earn yourself some cash! Today we requested a page for Anzac Day. A couple of weeks ago I requested a page for the Bayeux Tapestry but haven’t yet received an email.  

Founder Jason Calacanis is onto a good thing here -you’ve got my vote! Keep on creating those pages!