Lime, Rice, and Matt Cutts: Introducing Mahalo


Let's grab some VC money, repackage the web in a stale aging link list format, call it web 2.0, and watch it fail. Introducing Mahalo, which is:

  •, without topical expert guides
  •, without popular votes
  • Wikipedia, with paid editors and rarely updated guides
  • only focused on popular crap

When relevancy is this poor, why show any results at all? And as Andy put it, why bother spamming it, when it won’t gain enough users to send any real traffic?


Read the messages dude...

Um, did you catch the fact that there were NO RESULTS, therefore no relevancy to your query?

Oops! We haven't hand-written a result page for "seo" yet.

Wait until they get something about SEO on the page before you bash them although I can see how their display was really misleading, it basically sucks.

the ONLY value I see isn't to users

It's to the owners who have disguised their high end spamsense scrapers as a search engine.

Notice how the All-SEOs-are-assholes-King made sure that all his "search query pages" have easily indexible URLs and plaster Adsense everywhere. What a joke!


So why are you promoting it here then?

calling something crap and

calling something crap and promoting it are two different things.

I just wish that piece of crap had stock I could short.

Is google creating doorway

Is google creating doorway sites now?

Why bother spamming it?

Links. Google will trust the links.

The links have been verified by humans as being of resonable quality, and they've been categorized. The target site is what it says it is, and someone (presumably responsible) has verified that fact. Money hasn't changed hands.

DMOZ left the vacancy open.

Is there such a thing as...

'bad press' ?

Mahalo sucks big time.

It's very objective seems to be making money from paid edits.


Notify me when Mahalo creates a result page for "porn"

Darn, there's no such thing as porn. Maybe I'll check out the related pages recommended:

# Crayfish
Crayfish Recipes, Where To Buy Crayfish Online, Crayfish Blogs, Forums and Fan Sites, Crayfish News and Articles, Crayfish History and Trivia, Crayfish Cookbooks, Crayfish Merchandise...

Mahalo - Get crabs whilst surfing for porn.

Overall, Mahalo aims to

Overall, Mahalo aims to cover 25,000 top search terms. About 4,000 have been created already, and the goal is to do 500 per week scaling up to 1,000 per week.

I think Jason's going to have a hard time turning this into a competitor without volunteer editors, 4000 terms is nothing really and most of the terms I searched for weren't there. The English Wikipedia alone has over 1,808,097 articles. Even if you search something generic like 'cars' you notice the holes:

Did you mean: Cars, the movie?

Why yes I did, ah no link...OK thanks.

Early days

I wonder how many people laughed at Brins lego printer?

DMOZ left the vacancy

DMOZ left the vacancy open.

I'd say Wikipedia filled that vacancy a long time ago. IMO the problem with DMOZ was that it didn't scale. Loads of the links were out of date there. These days you need user content to get to that level, 40 (or even 100) people doesn't cut it. It seems very odd to me that Jason didn't pick up that lesson from Wikipedia and harness all that free labour out there.

Are people really going to use a search engine that only returns results on a few terms?

Wasn't there a statistic

Wasn't there a statistic that every day Google sees (something like) about 10% of searches that are completely new? How can Mahalo keep up with that?

Its All About Jason

Apparently more people search for him than do for Big Brother

The Mahalo strap line should be changed to:
"We're here to help me. Jason x"

Our current goal is to

Our current goal is to hand-write result pages for the top 10,000 search terms

Heh - yes, because they always stay the same.

As evilgreenmonkey suggests they should at least get a listing for 'porn' that's a fairly safe bet. :)

I tried "sex" (nothing),

I tried "sex" (nothing), "star wars" (about 70% complete, according to the blurb - are these guys paid bonus at 70% completion?) and via the "star wars" page writers bio "Lindsay Lohan". That last entry says that "Lindsay Lohan is an actress and singer, known best for her roles in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls." I thought she was known best for hanging around with Paris Hilton, and "accidentally" flashing her bits now and then - even Wikispammier managed to work it out...

Glorified Scraper Site

Just having humans do the scraping.

Who is funding this?

Who is funding this?

Who is funding this?

As for funding, if the Google AdSense units currently on the site don't cover costs, Calacanis says investors ranging from News Corp. to AOL's Ted Leonsis have given him enough money to run the company for at least five years.

Yep surprised no one has mentioned that already. Maybe Jason really is relying on the attack hook to get this off the ground with links. I hope people are appropriately no-following this (the site looks distinctively scraper like to me anyway).

Seriously though, I think Ralph has a point. This has to be a play for a buy out.

Wasn't there a statistic

Wasn't there a statistic that every day Google sees (something like) about 10% of searches that are completely new? How can Mahalo keep up with that?

Udi Manber said the number was closer to 20 to 25%

Try a search

Try a search for "search engine marketing" at Mahalo. Apparently Thomas the Tank Engine is highly relevent, it shows up as the first result.

Nothing more than a link

Nothing more than a link farm built to manipulate Google (and other) SERPs on a large scale. One man's battle against the SEO industry. Pathetic.

Yep Bill, they don't have a

Yep Bill, they don't have a results page there.

This is the real problem though isn't it - their related results *are* going to be seen as their SERPs (in anything but those lucky 4000 queries). It's a good job they spent so much time on the 'related article' algorithm though...

Try a search for "search engine marketing" at Mahalo. Apparently Thomas the Tank Engine is highly relevent, it shows up as the first result.

Ah ok - maybe they didn't. There may still be time to check the 'related posts' plugin from WordPress for inspiration...

Although how you can ever make every search relate to that tiny 4000 article sample is beyond me. Almost every user will get this as their experience.

This thing is so badly thought out, it hurts.


This thing is so badly thought out, it hurts.

For Jason maybe, personally I find it rather humorous.

the algo is juvenile

# We will link to:

1. ... sites that are considered authorities in their field (i.e. Edmunds for autos, Engadget for consumer electronics, and the New York Times for news).
2. ... sites which create original, high-quality content on a consistent basis.
3. ... sites that have been operating for over one year. Sites under a year will be considered, but most will be placed in a "member-submitted" section at the bottom of the page until they hit the one-year mark.
4. ... sites that have clean layout, design, and a modest amount of advertising.

What no Hawaiian shirts?

You would think a Hawaiian themed whatever would have a section for Hawaiian shirts, how earth shattering.

Re: What no Hawaiian shirts?

Or at least Hawaii ;)

Oops! We haven't hand-written a result page for "hawaii" yet.

adding a bit to Jason's comment...

From Danny's article:

"....They strayed from being a guide to the web to being a landing page," Calacanis explained. "We are not going to do of the rules we have is 'Don't compete with the destination'," he said. ...."

So, he could no follow/no index his pages so that they aren't picked up in Google... seeing as how he doesn't "want" to compete. Or is he using SEO to his advantage in order to get his pages listed in Google?

Maybe add a robots.txt file? Lol, even wikipedia has one:

Somebody had to pop the bubble

Sequoia is either really really smart (invested to make goog look even BETTER) or really really stupid (well, they did hire this guy right?)

This site is like a squidoo wannabe after a bad coke binge - skinny (with content) and diseased (with terrible ideas and aweful relevance).

I wish I could justify the time to write all the reasons this is such a horribly pathetic idea, and I generally like to try to stay positive or just ignore this man - but I would LOVE to dogpile on this one for someone who has it coming so badly.

Can someone please explain how anyone expects that paying people peanuts on a mass level will generate expert content and relevance? The least they could do is try to do some sophisticated stuff with arbitrage to generate SOME revenue. Oh, but that model (which was actually a pretty good one) is slowly dying too.

Can't wait to see the burn rate. Someone had to pop this no revenue model having web 2.0 bubble. I can't say I'll be disappointed to see you know who as the modern day version of the sock puppet. Please encourage him that he needs superbowl ads too.


Why would anyone use this over Freebase?

I don't really see the point of Mahalo especially in light of Freebase which will actually let you build using the data - check out Soundline. FYI: If anyone wants a peek inside Freebase, send me a PM

@ Stuntdubl - Re: Mahalo is

like a squidoo wannabe after a bad coke binge - skinny (with content) and diseased (with terrible ideas and aweful relevance.

Wow, funniest comment I've read in a long time. I just spit out my juice on my keyboard... Thanks ALOT!

re:robots.txt file

Wow, turns out that Mahalo doesn't even know how to serve up a proper 404 error. Just checked the server headers for a page that doesn't exist on the site and it's not a proper 404 error. Pages that don't exist on that site deliver 200 OKs in the server header? What's up with that?

Wouldn't it be a shame if pages like this one got indexed in other search engines.


They don't even have 301 redirects in place for non-canonical URLs. It would be a shame is someone were to link to

I like the choice of "/main_page" over the much over used standard of "/" as the home page.

Quote: I'd say Wikipedia

I'd say Wikipedia filled that vacancy a long time ago.

Depends how Google values Wikipedia's no-followed outbounds. If Google doesn't, the vacancy is still open. Google has issues determining which links are worthwhile.

I still can't see how he's going to get round the DMOZ link-rot and scaling issues, tho'...

Original Idea?

Does this guy ever come up with an original idea anymore?

The problem with this is it's just not scalable. Sure you'll have fun for a few months, but editors get bored, internal conflicts start brewing, and the once fun idea of a people powered search engine turns into an incomplete project. The results look like information sites, and for that, I'm not sure why you'd go outside Wikipedia. These results will turn stale after awhile and irrelevant for anyone searching with 3-4 keyword phrases.

But the biggest problem they run into is actually becoming succesful and obtaining traffic. Traffic opens the door to corruption, and everyone trying to find ways to get a piece of the pie. You'll have editors being paid under the table, conflicts of interests, and a constant barrage of people claiming the site to be bias. It will be DMOZ on steroids.

Fortunately, the idea has been done before, and failed. It will be a graveyard in six months. And for a guy who despises building sites for the search engines, he sure seems to have invested in making sure his site is built for just that.

If anyone missed Brian

If anyone missed Brian Provost's article on this - it's absolute gold.

Mahalo: That’s Hawaiian for 8 Visitors A Month

Good Humour

Did anyone notice that JC responded to that article with good humour unlike the aggressive, unpleasant, non constructive backbiting that goes on here a lot of the time. At least the guy is having a go. Do I see a little of the green eye peering at him?

No Green Eye Here

Sorry for the rant, seeing money being thrown at poor business models always winds me up. Not only are there more deserving projects out there but this encourages a bubble that is no good for any of us in the industry.

Besides all that though you can't have missed all the attacks that JC has made on this industry, refuted well by Danny

Or even his reaction when Neil gave him free consultancy that increased his traffic over 20% in 30 days.

And lets not forget Jason's prediction of the effect of Mahalo:

Jason: it's all moot... after 7/14/7 SEO will start the long slow death it deserves...

Jake, intrigued, asked:

What happens then?

Jason continued to be coy, saying:

mark it on your calendar... it's the day SEOs became irrelevant.

Well OK - he's launched a poorly thought out MFA site. I'm the first person to encourage a 'guy just having a go' but he's set himself up for this.

I just dont get it

So why launch a site that's not complete? Surely they could have pre-populated the site with more content than it currently has. 10k articles for the top 10k search terms, with 50-60 "hand jobs" a day would have only taken 6 months to hand-tweak 10k articles. Heck, with even 40 employees it would take only a month or two to get that work done.

really, what was he thinking...

I'm trying to see the point to this but all I see is something that could be fully automated but isn't. Ok, they are going with editors instead...but I can't find the editors adding one bit of value...anywhere.. wtf?

maybe it could best be

maybe it could best be described as a manual scrapper site (mss) that suffers from the mssa syndrome.

I have seen scrappers that were more real than this joke.


If this misguided project is supposed to be the end of SEO... It looks to me like SEO is here to stay...

As if there were any doubt... :-)

SEO has opened the door for

SEO has opened the door for much better tech than what is being shown today.

5 years ago you could do a web crawl, gather a few million documents and over 60% would have useless titles ("New PAGE 1", "Untitled Document"), file names, etc. making machine sorting/ranking an iffy proposition. SEO changed all that and its easier today then it ever has been to apply IR principles to an "unstructured" web.

This is kinda like rolling out a new word proccessor thats been stripped down. Why its getting press is the question.

Attack hook intentions revealed...

Well, he didn't jump into the lions den, and post here, so please forgive the linkdrops:
as well as on Brian's site:

The true intentions of his attack hook towards seo's is finally revealed....

Also, think about this. If an SEO, or SEO’s client, has a problem with a search result what can they do? Well, they can try and figure out how the search engine works and game it. You can’t talk to anyone at Google, Ask, Yahoo, or MSN about the search results, but you can talk to the Guides at Mahalo about the results. We will listen to you too. If we make a mistake we will fix it, and if you have a client with a much better site we will recognize them.

This will save millions of wasted hours of SEO a year. SEOs could move from optimizing for the algorithm and start optimizing for humans!

Wow...he's absolutely right! I think we should probably all jump on board with this now, and volunteer some time and effort to help! All of that hating on our entire industry, getting free work done, and calling our hardwork shit was just to get our attention, so he could show us the light!

*bends down on one knee
Thank you oh Lord - for sending this great man to save us all time and energy. Please forgive us for doubting his greatness, and commitment to humanity, and thinking that he is only out to profit despite any head he steps on. We forgive the pure tripe that spewed from his mouth, and now know that we should never ask him to shut up again. We will always again take his word as gospel, and know that every speech is deliberately crafted for the greater good of humanity.


By the way - my clients in the mortgage, cheap airfare, and hotel niches are by far the best, and I'm sure your editors will agree. Please place them at the top of your results page. It's very convenient that you can be reached. Thank you in advance.

Soon we will have 10,000, then 25,000.

I suppose it could be done with that many profitable phrases if the model is more than adsense, the promotion is more than google rankings, and the content is more than scraped garbage and a few links added by an underpaid "expert" editor.

This guy is still just a jerk for the sake of publicity, though I have to credit him for being extremely good at THAT.

Calling it linkbait doesn't make you less of an asshole (it makes you even more of a dick when you don't just fess up to baiting when you are)

Heh you should check out his

Heh you should check out his comments at CenterNetworks.

Don't you technically need two people to play good cop/bad cop?

Those Comments on Center Networks

are out of order and worse than when he called SEO Bull @ SES. Can we all now see that he will never be a friend to this industry and stop feeding his ego?

>, without topical

>>, without topical expert guides

Well, we do have topical guides actually. We are building groups around topics like travel, health, technology, news, autos, etc. This very similar to what we did at Weblogs, Inc. with Autoblog, Joystiq, Engadget, TVSquad, Luxist, Gadling, etc. It worked really well at Weblogs, Inc., and I think it will work very well at Mahalo. Of course, these are not blogs these are SeRP (search engine result pages for those of you not in the biz).

>> *, without popular votes

Well, we actually do have a section where folks can suggest links. If you take a look at my blog post today you'll see I mention that folks are suggesting great links already.

>> * Wikipedia, with paid editors and rarely updated guides

We're not trying to be Wikipedia--that would be a silly idea! Why replace something that is working so well? We do, however, do "Fast Facts" on the top right hand side for those searchers who just want to know the basic facts--which in our user testing turned out to be 15-25% of searches (i.e. the price of a car, the date of mothers day this year, what channel a TV show is on, etc).

* only focused on popular crap

Well, the popular searches are the ones with the most pollution and where users need the most help so we're focusing on that first. Type flatpanel TV, LCD TV, ipod, paris hotels, etc. into Mahalo and compare those pages to Ask, Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. I think you'll see that we beat them hands down. We have no spam, we are better organized and we fit more links into less space.

Mahalo for all the great feedback so far... we're going to keep listening to folks during the ALPHA and I think when you come back at the end of the year and see 10,000 pages completed you'll feel a lot differently about the product.

This is a very big, risky project... i'll admit that. However, If we make it work it will really help people a lot. A lot, lot.

best, Jason

SEO slimebuckets

Yep you see the problem Jason has is that Mahalo is getting universally dumped on at the moment. So what else can he do but try and whip up some anti-SEO feeling to get people on side?

He's already tried to explain to people that 'human is better' but that doesn't go down with geeks too well - neither does saying his results are better than Google.

/sorry Jason, did you say something?

Nick: if you look at the

Nick: if you look at the feedback it's the SEOs who are panning the idea, and with good reason. if we can make human-powered search work it takes away the need for the majority of what SEOs do (and 100% of what blackhat SEOs do). Our humans are not going to be tricked by SEOs very often.

Did I come on to strong with SEOs in the past? Perhaps. It was calculated and it wasn't for any other reason then to express how I feel: SEO is a waste of time. Why should people be optimizing for Google/Yahoo/Ask/MSN's algorithm? Think about how absurd that is: optimizing your site for a machine! Aren't we supposed to be making the sites better for HUMANS! As in our customers.

I think that Mahalo will free many SEOs and their clients from the millions of hours and dollars they waste trying to game the algorithms.

However, I've learned (mainly from the level-headed Danny Sullivan), that SEOs and their clients are left with NO CHOICE but to game the algorithms. If you don't play the game you won't get listed is the sad truth as he has explained to me many times over the past year. You can't call Google, Yahoo, or MSN and discuss the results on a page--they will simply tell you to "talk to the algorithm." Well, I'm making a promise right now that you can talk to Mahalo any time, and that we will look at every one of your clients pages when you submit them and give you feedback on why they are listed or not. We'll even tell you what to do to clean them up to the point at which they will get listed.

Consider this the olive branch from me to the SEO industry.... I hope that some of you take it because it's gonna be better for everyone: clients, SEOs, and searchers.

Mahalo for the feedback,



so let's see you bash us in the past and then offer an olive branch when you want us to help you promote your new project ... is it any wonder you're having a hard time finding people who have good things to say about your project?

Quote:We're not trying to

We're not trying to be Wikipedia--that would be a silly idea!

Yes you are. You're project is built to replicate the success they've had in the search engines. Just as Wikipedia shows up for virtually every search, you're hope is that Mahalo shows up for every search. It's why you've gone through the trouble build your site SE friendly, to interlink every page you can with anchor text. Your site is as worthless as the DMOZ directory without substantial search engine help.

Well, the popular searches are the ones with the most pollution and where users need the most help so we're focusing on that first. Type flatpanel TV, LCD TV, ipod, paris hotels, etc. into Mahalo and compare those pages to Ask, Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. I think you'll see that we beat them hands down. We have no spam, we are better organized and we fit more links into less space.

They are also the most profitible phrases. You're in this to make money, not "clean up search". It's a good strategy, but lets not mask the real reasons you're doing it.

We have no spam, we are better organized and we fit more links into less space.

You also have no traffic. With traffic, comes spam. If your flatpanel TV page ranks in Google one day, how long will it take before your editors start getting financial offers? How long till spammy links start showing up? When the site needs to throw ads up, will those who advertise on the site receive priority in Mahalo? I see your editors link to many large stores like Best Buy, but don't seem to link to any specialty stores?

I'm not one of those "blackhat SEOs" either. I'm just a guy who really doesn't see how this is going to take off. Without offering hundreds of thousands of possible search phrases, you'll never get people coming directly to you for their searching. Your traffic relies completely on ranking high in Google, and while you might, it takes one flick of the switch at the big G to eliminate a competitor.

Maybe I'm missing the big picture here. It's a unique idea and I give you credit for taking on the daunting task of a human powered directory/search engine. Personally though, without covering a few million search phrases, I don't see how you're going to do much but leech off of SE traffic (just like those blackhat SEOs).


Think about how absurd that is: optimizing your site for a machine! Aren't we supposed to be making the sites better for HUMANS! As in our customers.

It's rather SEO 101 to conclude that you can do both. It's a matter of understanding the medium in which you are working.

How come Mahalo has not only Adsense but Google results plastered on it. Wasn't that the Yahoo model a few years ago -- resulting in bringing the attention of zillions to Google?

I think Jason setting up Mahalo as a gatekeeper for links. DMOZ, essentially.

It will work in the sense that it will make money. But it will suffer the exact same problems as DMOZ if it can't get round the problems Mr Tuner outlines above.

That's my point, Peter. They

That's my point, Peter. They could either set up a real search engine, or do a DMOZ plus Adsense plus Google SERPs.

Wikipedia Entry

Just noticed that Mahalo now has its own Wikipedia page that stuck:

I guess someone found it 'worthy enough' to get its own wikipedia page. Turns out that there's some history with this:

Calacanis himself "requested" that someone add a Wikipedia page about Mahalo. He then complains that "the SEOs keep deleting it". He later goes on to say, "any wikipedians who can help it would be appreciated. thanks"...he then publicly thanks "AndrewP" for the page. A view of the page shows that editing is essentially "disabled".


I love this quote "SEO is a waste of time."

This guy is joke on so many levels.

Now he wants to make nice with all the evil SEO's, that waste peoples time and money.

I'm giving odds that this rather poor attempt of his will die a fast death as soon as the initial funding dries up...

What I want to know is where the hell these investors are from? I need some real stupid investors with a lot of money... I'm looking to start a crawler based engine and I want to call it Pupuka {Hawaiian for Ugly)... It will be just like google... but different. ;-)

haha Brian got first dibs on

haha Brian got first dibs on "mahalo sucks", but Todd's got the PR

At what point does "Mahalo

At what point does "Mahalo Sucks" become one of the 10,000 most popular queries for them to "curate".

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