Google's SearchWiki technology is being rolled out to Google account holders today, letting you rank and comment on search results. It's an interesting approach to search, although I'm not entirely sure how much difference it will make to most searchers' day-to-day activities. Read on for a quick screenshot tour of its main features.You can't use SearchWiki without being logged into Google, and any promotions or comments you make will be visible to others. There's currently no obvious facility for complaining about a defamatory or inaccurate comment, but Google will need to grapple with this at some stage.
Google has also stated that SearchWiki results won't impact on how it does its main rankings. While it would have been tempting to add human intelligence to existing algorithms, Google's culture tends to favour engineering solutions over ones based on social input. Allowing SearchWiki to influence the main results would also be an open invitation for unscrupulous types to try and rig their rankings using multiple accounts. (Click any image below for a larger version.)
When you perform a search while logged in, each result will have a SearchWiki green arrow that lets you promote that result, or a cross to remove it. The identities of other people who have made similar changes are shown beneath the result.
You can add comments to any result by clicking on the chat icon. Note also that the feature only applies to main search results; added extras like images and news don't have the feature. You can edit and delete comments you have made.
If you remove a result, it disappears (with a cute cloud animation), but is left at the bottom of the screen. From here, you can permanently hide it.
At the bottom of each results page, you can access your own SearchWiki notes, or all the comments and notes that appear for a particular search. Over time, the latter is likely to prove interesting (just as Wikipedia history and discussion pages can reveal as much as the articles in themselves).
How useful have you found SearchWiki? Let us know in the comments.