Human-based search engine in hiring mode

Applicants with online experience are being sought

Mahalo, a search engine that uses people to come up with search results, 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 last month — 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-$15 per search result (NZ$13-$20), depending on how many search results Mahalo has accepted.

Unlike automated search engines, Mahalo (Hawaiian for “Thankyou”) uses people it calls guides to ensure that search results will not include spam sites, phishing sites 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. Sites of unknown origin won’t be linked to, either, the company says. Instead, Mahalo aims to link to sites that are considered authorities in their fields and that create original content.

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

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

When it launched, Mahalo said it already had in place the results for the internet’s 4,000 most popular search terms. It plans to reach 10,000 search terms by the end of the year.

Mahalo is backed by lead investors that include News Corporation and Sequoia Capital, which has backed Apple, YouTube and Yahoo, among others.

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