Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Yahoo gets social with MyWeb

A big day of announcements for Google, and Yahoo appears to have some announcements of their own.

Yahoo just announced the launch of MyWeb 2.0, "search with a little help from your friends." The idea appears to be that you tag a bunch of web pages and search results, share them with all your friends, and everyone in your social network gets better results.

A lovely idea in theory, but I think it has some problems.

First, this is a hell of a lot of work. Not only do I have to list my entire social network at Yahoo, but also I have to manually tag vast numbers of web pages. Who has that kind of time? The benefits would need to be absolutely extraordinary to convince people to devote this much effort to seeing improved search results.

Second, as Chris Anderson said, social networks don't work well for personalization because "the assumption that there's a correlation between the people I like and the products I like is a flawed one." Personalized search should find like-minded people from the entire community who can help you find what you need.

Third, as John Dvorak said, any mainstream tagging system is "doomed to failure" because it will succumb to "vandalism and spam." I've already seen people talking about manipulating del.icio.us to drive traffic to their site. This problem will become much worse if tagging systems become popular.

I admire Yahoo's innovative work and their attempt to build on the early success of services like del.icio.us, but I think this one is going to be a hard slog for them. Yahoo MyWeb 2.0 might win some converts in the early adopter crowd, but it isn't a system built for the mainstream. Grandma won't be coming to Yahoo MyWeb.

See also reviews from Chris Sherman and Michael Bazeley.

Update: Good comments on MyWeb 2.0 from John Battelle.

Update: Danny Sullivan follows up with two long articles, "Yahoo My Web: An eBay For Knowledge" and "Yahoo My Web Tagging & Why (So Far) It Sucks".

Update: Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake rebuts my post on the Yahoo MyWeb 2.0 Blog. Caterina certainly knows what she's talking about, so make sure to give her post a read.

Update: Five months later, I ask, "How is Yahoo My Web 2.0 doing?"


Hashim said...

maybe Yahoo only needs early adopters to use this so they can improve results across the board. Perhaps there's another motive they aren't telling us

Amit said...

You can already see the effect of del.icio.us spam if you visit sites like http://populicio.us/newlinks.html