Former Google Product Manger, Steffen Mueller, has launched Topicle, a new search engine community. The service, which went live today, uses a model similar to that of Wikipedia, allowing anyone to contribute to the creation and enhancement of their own vertical search engines.

To use Topicle, the process is simple. You first search for a search engine, using their current database of human-created engines. If you find one that fits your needs, you can use it. If not, you can create your own engine or add to an existing one to make it more suitable.

Each search engine is actually a collection of user-submitted links, and a search using that engine will only pull back results from the sites listed. For example, the Topicle search engine Mortgage Advice only searches www.realtor.org, www.fdic.gov, www.homeloanlearningcenter.com and a few other URLs. So when you select the Mortgage Advice engine and enter in a search term, you will only get results from the listed URLs.

Mortgage Advice Search Engine

Each engine is rated by Topicle users from one to five stars. The popularity of the engine comes from both the ratings of users and how many people use that particular Topicle engine. The most popular search engines are listed on the homepage, as are the newest engines and your recent engines. Some currently popular engines now include iPhone Unlock, Movie Trailers, Best Recipe Sites, and San Francisco.

Users can contribute additional URLs to improve upon existing engines or create brand-new engines from scratch by submitting a list of URLs.

Although the site is powered by Google Custom Search Engine Technology, the site is more of an anti-Google. Says Steffen, "Topicle generates more precise and useful search results with sources recommended by humans, as opposed to sources picked solely by a computer algorithm."

No mention was made of how the site will deal with link quality or manage spam submissions.

The site joins the human-powered search space, an area where Mahalo's human-powered search already dominates. However, Topicle's twist of basically putting a pretty front-end onto Google's custom search property may allow it to carve out the niche it needs in order to succeed in such a narrow space.