Rushmore DriveApril 10, 2008
The Wall Street Journal is running a story on IAC's start-up strategy. Included in these is RushmoreDrive.com - a vertical search engine targeting the African American community. What's most interesting about RushmoreDrive is its demographic approach to a vertical search strategy as opposed to a content-centric approach. As such, it's easy to see how RushmoreDrive could easily evolve into a broader social media site - and you can even see social interaction elements on the site already.
Out of the box, it's nice to see RushmoreDrive allowing users to rank search results. As with any search engine, how they determine relevancy is a critical factor. For anybody who knows me, you know I'm an avid proponent of abandoning link-based page rank in favor of user response to search results. RushmoreDrive is using the Ask engine, but identical searches on the two sites yield different results pages. For example, a search for 'Baseball' on RushmoreDrive yields the following top 5:
The search on Ask.com returns Baseball-almanac.com, MLB.com, Baseball-reference.com, sabr.org (The Society for American Baseball Research), and baseball-links.com - in that order. Clearly RushmoreDrive is able to alter the default relevancy rankings returned by the Ask engine, and at first glance this seems to make sense. That is, for a search engine that markets itself to the African American community, prioritizing black history in a baseball query appears to be logical. What I'm unclear about is how well this type of search result reflects the user intent.
In my mind, a search for 'Baseball' is a generic search - no matter where it's submitted. If RushmoreDrive were attempting to curate results and return only those believed to be of interest to its user base, that would make sense. But in this scenario, the same results returned by Ask.com are available, just pushed down the list a bit.
I'm on the fence on this one. Hopefully as the site gains some traction, the voting mechanism will catch on and the users will influence relevancy. It will be interesting to check back in a few months to see how these rankings may change.