Wink – People Powered Search

Company: Wink
Launched: in Private Beta
Status: Funded by Greylock Partners
Location: Mountain View

Wink gave a brief demo at at Web2.0 last week and we were immediately hooked. Wink is still in private beta (you can request an account on their home page), but I’ve had a chance to talk with CEO Michael Tanne and I’ve been using it all week.

At its core Wink is a search engine, and they’ve intelligently layered in shared user participation to give fresh, meaningful results that, Wink argues, can’t be found anywhere else. The key user participation features are tagging, rating and sharing.

Our goal at Wink is to combine search with user participation to give you fresher, more accurate, spam-free search. You can create tags, rate results and keep track of sites you’ve visited. You can create Search Sets of tags that show your expertise in a subject, and you can make those publicly available to be shared with other people. Wink also has concepts that are created and updated by users like you, so feel free to edit existing concepts, or even write your own!

Because Wink is “people-powered”, it will only get better when people tag, rate, and share. So please make Wink your default search engine, use it everyday, and let us know how you like it. And if you help us out by contributing or giving us feedback, we’ll give you some invitations of your own to send out!

Core search results are provided by Google and wikipedia. A search query returns those results, which you can tag and rate from 0-5 stars. A zero rating help to block out spam and other bad content, eventually removing it from the index altogether.

This user-created metadata (when aggregated) helps Wink return more relevant results to the entire community. Wink has taken bookmark data to fill out their results with rich tagging content right from the start.

For future queries, tagged/rated results appear above normal search results.

Also within search results is an area where Wink users are listed that have tagged results with the query used. Clicking on any user takes you to a page that shows all of their public tags and ratings. If you find that you like a user’s tags and ratings, you can subscribe to those results via RSS.

There are a ton of other features as well that I am discovering as I use the service. For instance, you can create a “search set” (it reminds me of Rollyo) that combines links to favorite sites along with tags.

As a side note, people are realizing that user-generated metadata may be the key to improving search results. Google has taken early steps in this direction with their early bookmarking product. In our profile yesterday, one of the comments opined that Google may be experimenting in this area. Perfect timing for Wink!