Blekko Nov. 1 became the latest startup to challenge Google with a search engine that lets its users customize and refine searches to can some of the spam.
Machine-generated search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing take users' queries and search for these digital needles of information in an increasingly expanding haystack of billions of Web pages.
Blekko tries a crowd-sourced approach to search results to help users better pinpoint answers. Any user may test the Blekko beta with a feature called slashtags, which group the search queries people define on Blekko within the search box.
Slashtags, which users may try here, search only the sites users want, cutting cut out spam. The tools are not unlike the hashtag feature (#) that lets Twitter users group tweets around a particular topic, such as #world series.
Users can create their own slashtags, allowing them to set up directories of information in a few vertical areas so that they can come back to them later and let other people see them.
"Use friends, experts, community or your own slashtags to slash in what you want and slash out what you don't," Blekko explained on its Website. Users may also search from these boxes and jump to other verticals.
Search Engine Land has the most detailed run-through of Blekko here.
Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta offered an example of a logical Blekko use on his personal blog Nov. 1.
Skrenta was looking for a 2 percent cash-back credit card. A search for [cash back credit card] produced spammed results on Google and Bing, so he made the blekko /money tag [cash back credit card /money] with the top 100 personal finance bloggers and received great results.
Noting that search requires a lot of relevance data to help algorithms grok the billions of Web pages worldwide, Skrenta said that he wanted to use the crowd-sourced approach to make the "search engine better" instead of following Google and Bing's lead of hiring hundreds of contractors to refine relevance data.