Lycos Community Guides Get Comeuppance

Lycos Community Guides Get Comeuppance

From The Search Engine Update
April 30, 1998

Lycos introduced its Community Guides at the end of last year, but users could be forgiven if they missed them. They were mainly available to those browsing through the Lycos Web Guides, discovered only after several clicks into the site.

Now the Community Guides have been catapulted onto center stage. In response to some general searches, users now receive a matching list of guides, then matching web pages.

The Community Guides look like any other directory. Sites are organized into categories, though listed in terms of quality, rather than the usual alphabetization. The top score is 100, and sites appear in descending order.

The directory is unique in that it is created automatically, using agent technology from WiseWire. (And Lycos just announced today that it acquired WiseWire for a $40 million stock swap).

An editor starts the process rolling by creating categories and assigning important keywords and concepts to them. WiseWire then displays what it believes are the best documents from those it has found by crawling the web.

Next, Lycos users get a say. Clicking on a link in the directory loads the listed web site within a frame. Options at the top of the frame then invite the user to vote whether they liked the site.

Positive votes help a site rise to a top, but these work in conjunction with the computer generated ratings. Additionally, WiseWire examines the top ranked documents and uses them as a model for other pages to retrieve. Meanwhile, sites that are disliked fall to the bottom of the list or disappear entirely.

Lycos says it currently has over 4,200 subjects and plans to expand them to 20,000 over the coming year -- that's 1 to 2 million sites, in all. The beauty of its system is that it combines the advantages of both humans and machines to build lists of decent quality.

Naturally, webmasters will want to be listed within the guides. Unfortunately, there is no way to suggest your page, at the moment. This is something that may come later in the year, Lycos says.

The good news is that the WiseWire spider is very active. I constantly see it appearing in the logs of various sites I review. If you have links to your site, it should eventually find you. That doesn't mean your site will necessarily be included in a category, but at least you have a chance, if you've been indexed.

You should certainly watch appropriate categories to see if your site appears. If so, cast a vote for yourself. There's nothing wrong with this, as you certainly are entitled to an opinion on your site being best. Furthermore, anything that gains a vote stays on the list. You may not get a high rating, but at least you won't disappear.

Should you vote several times? Lycos says it shouldn't make that much of a difference, because so many people overall cast votes. For a single person to have an impact, they would likely need to go to excess. Editors also watch for unusual activity in relation to top picks, and they have the ability to exclude sites, if necessary.

What about Top 5%, the other directory Lycos operates? That service is being restructured over the next three to six months, and submissions are no longer being accepted or processed during this period.