Similarr is a new search mashup that turns search results into highly targeted discussion forums. The site mashes search results from Live.com with a customized version of the open source phpBB forum to create a search engine the encourages discussion about its results. There is certainly room for improvement, but as a concept, Similarr might actually make some sense.
Similarr displays search results taken via the Live Search API and creates a forum for each search. The forum is displayed alongside results. For example, a search for "NASA" would automatically create a "NASA" forum. If anyone had previously searched for the same topic and a left a message, the forum would display with those previous discussions already there.
For a power user, whose searches generally take a form like "term" + "quote" -term site:something.com it may seem silly to try to create a forum for every search term -- surely there won't be enough overlap to create stimulating conversations. For many terms, there probably won't be, but recall that when Jason Calacanis launched Mahalo last year, he said that the top 10,000 search terms account for about a quarter of all searches. With that in mind, Similarr makes more sense.
Similarr also has intent on its side. Google taught us that text ads on search results work because the searcher is showing intent by seeking out information on a specific subject. That concept could work in Similarr's favor -- people may be more apt to join a discussion about a topic they are specifically searching for information about. But in the immediate future, the site faces a chicken and egg problem. While people may be happy to join a discussion already in progress, not many people are likely to want to initiate discussions on an empty forum. Like Mahalo, Similarr may need to pay contributors to seed discussions on forums for top searches.
One thing the site should do, is figure out a way to combine -- or cross post -- to forums for similar topics. For example, a forum for "Tiger Woods" should probably show posts for the search "Tiger Woods injury" or "Tiger Woods knee surgery" as well. There is a lot of overlap in the list of the top 10,000 searches, slight discrepancies in search terms but people are generally looking for the same thing. Similarr needs to figure out how to combine alike searches into a single forum, which will not only be useful to users of the site, but will also automatically seed content in forums for less common search terms that fall under the umbrella of a more common term.