A few weeks ago, I reviewed an early beta search engine called Mojeek. Well, Mojeek hasn’t gotten a huge amount of press, so that article pops up pretty easily in a search – and Marc, the creator, ran across that article and dropped me a line. In the conversation which ensued, he gave me access to a test account for his personal search – which I am now going to delve into in some depth.

Personal search accounts are currently only available in Beta testing, and must be requested personally – visit Mojeek Personal Search (Beta) for more information!

Mojeek Personal Search: Functionality

Mojeek’s personal search gives you the ability to create a set of preferred sites to search. You can list as many as you wish, as far as I can tell, provided that they have already been indexed by the Mojeek crawler. This is a similar functionality to that provided by (now defunct) Lushe.net. Where Lushe.net manages a database of your preferred sites but uses Google’s search engine, Mojeek centralizes these functions into a single site.

One additional feature offered by Mojeek is the ability to exclude sites from all Mojeek web searches. If you know that you NEVER want to read documents from, say, Fox News, you are able to exclude that site from your site results. While you are logged in, the option to add to your personal search or exclude from results is provided as part of all search results.

The personal search option is welcome and still relatively unique, but there are a number of ways in which it could be improved.

Combined with the flexibility of Mojeek’s alternative algorithm search options (still rudimentary), this personal search could have great potential. However, it would be very valuable if Mojeek could add a Lushe-like bookmarklet to add sites to your site search. I’m also concerned by the fact that you can’t add unindexed sites to your list – as I commented in my previous article, the Mojeek index was far from being the most current available, and one site I tried to add (this one) was not yet indexed. Granted, the site is only a month and a half old, but I could hope! A highly useful service would be the ability to request a crawl of sites which were not in the index.
Finally, it would be very useful to be able to establish more than one personalized search. At the moment, it appears that one user is associated with one personalized search – but I would consider it quite reasonable that I would want more than one personalized group of sites.

Mojeek Personal Search: Interface

In general, the interface for Mojeek Personal Search is simple and straightforward, just like their main search interface. The first view on logging in is of your basic personal information. There are only five other options of places to go: your personal search home page, three editing pages: personal information (optional, can be public or private), edit listed sites (sites to be searched by your personal search), and edit excluded sites (sites not to be searched by web search), and help. The phrase "Edit Listed Sites" isn’t crystal clear to me, as it doesn’t specify the purpose for the listing – perhaps "Edit Personal Search" would be more clear. However, it’s far from being a major point of concern.

The one thing I would want to change about the interface is that you cannot access your personal search from the main Mojeek home page. When logged in, you have the option to switch between searching the web and searching your own selected sites on all other pages – but on the home page you have no such choice. A minor thing, but something which would make the site that much more user-friendly.

Other Comments

It’s also worth noting that one advantage of the Mojeek personal search is the ability to use it as a site search tool. If you selected only your own site as the selected site, it will act effectively to search your site. However, this tool will only becoming truly useful if the indexing rate speeds up sufficiently to keep a current index.

The search engine continues to have great potential – between the personal search, site search, and alternate algorithm selection there are some useful tools available. The suggestions above, I believe, could allow it to build even further and possibly gain some footing in the search world. User-controlled search factors is likely to be one of the most valuable developments in search technology in the next generation of search.

For more information on user-controlled search factors, read Adding more factors to Microsoft’s sliders, by Bill Slawski. Microsoft is taking a different approach to user modified searching than Mojeek which may also have interesting repercussions for search.