An MSN help wanted ad runs:
When all else fails, and the ranking algorithms do not pass the confidence threshold, we fall back to delivering handcrafted results. Working on a team of approximately 132 other handcrafters in 26 worldwide markets, you will receive a user query, use all the available search engines to quickly scour the web for results, pick the top 10 results for this query, and send it on to the user. Successful handcrafters can typically find top 10 results for a real-time user’s query in less than 3.8 seconds. This is an opportunity to truly connect with customers, because the queries that get routed to you are precisely the ones that the engine cannot answer well. We will have adequate staffing to allow generous coffee and bathroom breaks. If you are an expert at using at least 3 different search engines, well versed with American English/colloquial usage, and can type at > 149 words/minute as measured by the Simia-Lico method – come join us and delight users real-time!
In his commentary Danny reminds us that MSN are not new to Executive Relief, and that Y! and G have tossed off a few in their time themselves. He sums up:
Overall, I'm fine with hand-crafting, hand manipulation, hand jobs or whatever you want to call it as long as:
* It improves search quality
* It's not done to favor an advertiser by rigging the editorial results
Does it scale, does it work, do we like it?