Nitin Karandikar – What is a search engine?

Criteria for defining a Search Engine:

1. It enhances findability of relevant web content for the user
2. It searches the entire web or a large subset thereof (this excludes publisher search engines that search only a single site or group of sites)
3. Searches are specified using a keyword, phrase or question, or using input parameters, without the need for undue navigation (I don’t consider pure directories like dmoz to be Search Engines)
4. It provides search results on demand, not periodically
5. It provides some kind of unique or special processing of its own: either in the search algorithm, or in UI improvements, or both (this excludes pure Rollyo or Google Coop-based search engine subsets)

Essential Features for the future:

Personalization (but without storing personal info )
Social Input / Wisdom-of-Crowds (which has its pitfalls )
Semantic Processing: of both, the query AND the content (will this let the Search Engine find Answers that we never knew we had?)
Parametric Input: including freshness, source and domain-specific
Rich content types: audio, video, images, news, blogs, …
UI enhancements: better visualization of results
Findability support: notifications of interest, a database of intentions
Follow-up: results clustering and drill-down
Repeat queries (as Greg Linden points out )
Trusted sources: e.g. a slider to select the level of trust, from high to low

Source

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