Would You Like A Slashtag With That? Blekko Begins Powering Topix Search

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Topix, the largely under-the-radar platform for local news, information, and influence, has been aggregating local news and community discussions for nearly 7 years. Over this time, the platform has quietly grown to over 13 million monthly visitors, according to Quantcast. It’s now aggregating local content from more than 50K sources and offers more than 360K edited news pages.

Topix has become a respectable web property, which is why today’s announcement that it will be partnering with young search engine, Blekko, seems like an interesting move. Blekko only launched publicly back in November of last year, so the human-curated, slash-tagging search engine is still very much an unestablished entity.

I think many would agree that search is need of some de-spamming and a fresh take, and Blekko is certainly that, but the road before them is uphill to say the least. Blekko has made a laudable effort to crackdown on spam, eliminating 1 million spammy links from its search results in March.

What’s more, Blekko does not accept paid traffic, it uses humans on top of algorithmic search functions, and it’s getting more social — all great things. I applaud how ferociously Blekko is attacking the current problems in search, hey, it attracted 575K unique IPs in March, so people are checking it out.

I just worry that the search engine’s crusade against spam may result in the elimination of legitimate sites as well, and it can be slow to crawl smaller sites, and update name changes, and so on. Right now it indexes 3.5 billion URLs, which is just no match for Bing and Google, which are both way over 15 billion.

That being said, I am very intrigued to see how Blekko integrates with Topix, which averages over 1 million searches a month. With a more focused set of data to index, I think Blekko could start turning out some great search results. From testing it out a little bit today, it’s worked great, but I’ll have to dive deeper to know for sure.

But obviously what really keeps this from being a shocking development, or a surprising risk for a sizable platform, will not come as a huge shock to those familiar with the two companies’ histories. Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta and Blekko Marketing VP Mike Markson are both co-founders of Topix.

So, while Topix was presumably predestined to add Blekko search at some point, no surprise there, it is interesting to see that the Blekko team now finally feels that its search engine has been tuned (and tested) enough to make this implementation launchable.

“It is rather unprecedented for a search start up to be able to power search on a site of scope and scale as Topix,” Skrenta said. “We have a long history of collaboration and camaraderie with the Topix team so it’s a thrill to be working together again in bringing a new search experience to Topix users.”

Is it working? Chime in with your own experiences.