Human-based search engine looks to hire would-be searchers

Mahalo now hiring human search engines

Mahalo, a search engine that uses people to come up with search results, said today it has begun taking applications from people who want to be paid for researching queries.

As part of a project it calls Greenhouse, Mahalo -- which launched an alpha version of its site two weeks ago -- is looking for people to help it research queries from users that, upon acceptance, will be posted on the site. Applicants then will be paid from US$10 to US$15 per search result, depending on how many search results Mahalo has accepted.

Unlike automated search engines, Mahalo (Hawaiian for "Thank you") uses people it calls guides to ensure that search results will not include spam sites, phishing site or sites that have deceptive or "overbearing advertising." In addition, the results will not link to sites that post content from other sites without giving credit and sites of unknown origin, the company said. Instead, Mahalo aims to link to sites that are considered authorities in their fields and that create original content.

Mahalo said it is looking for part-time guides who have previous experience at Wikipedia, a well-known blog, a social news site or a social bookmarking site. Extra consideration will be given to applicants who have online followings on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace.com or a personal blog.

Those who opt not to be paid can donate their fees to the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia. Mahalo has set aside up to US$250,000 donations to Wikipedia for this year.

When it launched late last month, Mahalo said it already had in place the results for the Internet's 4,000 most popular search terms. The company plans to reach 10,000 search terms by the end of the year, the company said.

Mahalo is backed by lead investors that include News Corp. and Sequoia Capital, which has worked with Apple, YouTube, Yahoo, Cisco Systems and Oracle, among others.

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Heather Havenstein

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