DuckDuckGo has partnered with massive collaboratively built how-to site Wikihow to offer permanent top-level results for how-to searches on the site. DuckDuckGo is aimed straight at Google, going as far as buying a prominent billboard in San Francisco condemning Google's data tracking practices. Wikihow is aimed right at eHow, content farm Demand Media's massive how-to site of questionable quality.Innovative web search engine
The twist to the story is that the founder of Wikihow, Jack Herrick, actually sold eHow to Demand Media in 2006. Herrick chose the wiki method of collaborative editing over the bulk freelance model of eHow. "It's like eating a McDonald's burger vs. a wonderful, home cooked meal," he told ReadWriteWeb in 2009.
Wikihow, which has raised no money at all, now sees 30 million visitors each month. The company says that no money changed hands between it and DuckDuckGo as part of this deal.
DuckDuckGo has been mentioned in the same breath lately as search challenger Blekko, which banished 20 alleged content farms from its search results this week. We questioned Blekko's decision to do that, on the grounds that one person's content farm might be another person's more easily-read, accessible content. One site on Blekko's list, shopping review site Buzzillions, contacted us to complain that it was put on that list unfairly. A brief visit to the site makes me wonder if Blekko's users, who called the site spam by clicking on a link on Blekko, ought not speak for everyone. I like Blekko, but at first glance I like Buzzillions too.
Some people don't like Wikihow and think it smells like a content farm! (It looks pretty good to me.) Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta says simply that his users voted Buzzillions into the Top 20 spammiest domains and they didn't vote that way for Wikihow. He just does what the users tell him on this, he says.
DuckDuck go's approach of pinning high-quality content, which is easily edited collaboratively, to the top of its page of search results - is more appealing to me than Blekko's strategy of banishment. Blekko's slashtag feature, the creation of topically limited collections of quality sources on a topic, is very useful but feels different.
What do you think of Wikihow, DuckDuck go and the prospect of a favored source like this?