Blekko is a small but fearsome competitor when it comes to the search engines, and the last two months have seen dramatic attention for the company. Most of this stems from complaints about Google, including Vivek Wadhwa’s famous post declaring that we need a “new (and better) Google.” Wadhwa himself cited Blekko as an excellent example, and the fury of attention since has been capitalized on by Blekko.
The great strength of Blekko is their freedom from most common spam, mostly because content is reviewed both by users and in-house employees, adding a non-robotic component to search engine ranking. One of the features that allows Blekko to filter content is the ability granted to users to mark results as spam. Now, taking action against that spam, Blekko has removed the top 20 sites reported as providing spam content. The removal means more than a block. The groups are no longer even indexed by Blekko.
These “content farms” include popular sites like Expert Village, eHow, and ChaCha. Here, question and controversy are quickly raised. What precisely qualifies as a “content farm”? The general definition is a site that hires on a large number of writers to generate essentially useless content, but these sites follow a different model. Some of the banned groups incentivize users with a revenue sharing scheme, but all content is user-driven. Abuses in the system, including sites trying to farm links from these sources, have created a huge amount of useless content — but actual guides, answers, and useful data can be found in the mix as well.
Tammy Frost, a representative from Demand Media (who owns eHow, one of the companies affected by the change), stated that “we need to stand up for all of the hard work” that users put into the articles, videos, and other content. Meanwhile, user responses vary from enraged to ecstatic.