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June 30, 2005

Your Place on Yahoo! Maps

There's so much geographical data out there...now it's possible to overlay it onto Yahoo! Maps. Many of you told us you'd like the ability to post your geographical data on our maps -- be it a store, an open house, a garage sale, earth quakes, geo-cached treasure or newsworthy events. And you want it to be SUPER easy to place your content within our maps to get a real world perspective. In response to feedback, Yahoo! now offers an open XML API. It's free, stable, and backward compatible.

One of the main goals of this API is to lower the access threshold so that anyone can use it without having to program. For example, we accept street addresses in addition to lat/long inputs. So no need to hack -- we do all the hard work for you. We also provide space on the page for developer attribution, and links to go back to the referral page. Check out a couple of cool examples that have already been posted using the API: bay area traffic cams and a tribute to Sideways.

The Yahoo! Maps open API is based on geoRSS, a RSS 2.0 with w3c geo extension. For more information check out developer.yahoo.net/maps. We also offer API support via a group forum at yws-maps. We welcome your feedback. Yes, it is just that simple!

Norman Shi
Yahoo! Local

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Where is Ian Turner?

SEO and WebmasterWorld moderator Ian Turner was last seen in New Orleans at the WebmasterWorld Conference. We'd like to help spread the word to try and locate him. Nick W over at Threadwatch has additional information including Ian's picture.

Tim Mayer

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June 28, 2005

Search, with a little help from your friends

Almost two years ago, one of our engineers was interested in buying a plasma TV and tried using web search to find a good site for reviews --- a quick search revealed that there were hundreds of sites offering to educate him on plasma TVs, yet short of visiting all the sites, it was difficult to figure out which site exactly was the 'best' site. So he did what millions of people do every day – asked a friend, who recommended two excellent sites for plasma TV reviews. He never ended up buying a TV (things just got too busy with search), but this was the moment of inspiration that lead us to build the product we are introducing today – a social search engine that enables people to search the expertise of their friends and community.

The Limits of Web Search

After years of development, and especially since the introduction of link counting and anchor text, web search has gotten amazingly powerful in its ability to surface nearly any kind of information within the billions of pages that comprise the web. However, as powerful and large as today's web search engines are, they are still limited in their ability to deliver key services to their users including:

  • Answering "opinion" queries – The definition of the best plasma TV review site, best dry cleaner in Palo Alto, CA, or most useful source for information on skin cancer depends on a user's tastes as well the opinions and recommendations of the friends and authorities they trust. Web search engines don't have the ability to deliver the right answer because they don't always capture the trusted and valued sources for that user.
  • Personal results – The answer a web search engine delivers is what it believes is the correct answer for the majority of users – often referred to as "the tyranny of the majority". For example, when you search for 'apple', the first result on most search engines is Apple Computer. But you may have been searching for information about the fruit or Apple Records.

  • Serendipity – Today's search engines can deliver great results, especially with very specific queries, but typically do a poor job of connecting you with new items that might be interesting, timely, and personally relevant. Your friends and people who share common interests with you are better sources for this information.

Introducing Social Search

To address these kinds of limits of today's search experience, we are releasing an early beta version of My Web 2.0 for a limited number of users. It is a new kind of search engine – a social search engine – that complements web search by enabling users to search the knowledge and expertise of their friends and community in addition to the web. Here's some of what we think is interesting about My Web 2.0:

  • The trusted web – Anyone can save, tag, and share knowledge with their community. Any page on the web with your comments and insights. Your community can do the same. The result – a new search experience that combines web search with what your trusted community has tagged and shared. Users can build their community by inviting their contacts via email or by importing existing social relationships from Yahoo! Address Book, Messenger, or their 360° community. My Web 2.0 then leverages the Yahoo! 360° personal network platform to enable people to manage their search community.

  • Personalized search – My Web 2.0 is powered by Yahoo!'s new MyRank Search Technology, which provides personalized search results based on the shared knowledge of the people they trust. Personalized search is also supported by our My Search History capability, (launched in My Web 1.0 ). Over time, you will see us integrate MyRank technology across other Yahoo! applications and services.

  • Control over what is shared and with whom – Each page saved and tagged can be shared with the world, just with friends and their friends, or kept private.

  • Structured tagging – The internet is about much more than web pages – key dimensions like time and location can be as important as the content itself. With user-provided structured tags like "geo:[location]" applied to pages, search results can now can include maps to locations in addition to the web page.

  • Open APIs - Through the use of My Web 2.0's XML and RDF APIs , a whole host of new applications can be built – like what the folks in the Stanford University TAP project are working on.

How Is Social Search Different?

Social search complements web search, which is driven by publishers and web sites, by providing a better search experience that is powered by people and communities. Flickr is a great example of this power applied to photos and image search.

Much like links and anchor text enabled major improvements in web search by becoming a new source of authority for search engines, people and trust networks are now an additional source of authority for social search engines. In the same way that blogs and RSS are empowering individuals to participate in publishing, individuals and communities can now participate in search, using tools like My Web 2.0 that let them define what is valuable to them and their community.

Over time, we envision communities using My Web to build their own search engines to capture and make accessible the knowledge of their community – search engines populated with the collective experience of a group of medical researchers, a community of PHP experts, a bird watching club, or members of a structural engineering consulting firm.

More to Come…

My Web 2.0 is still very early in its development. To keep you abreast of how My Web will evolve, we decided that since it's a social search engine it needed its own blog and My Web blog to learn more about what's coming next.

In the meantime, if you would like to see any other new features, please let us know, and we encourage you to share your thoughts on the My Web discussion group.

David Ku, PhD, Technical Yahoo!, Search
Eckart Walther, VP Product Management, Search
And the Yahoo! Search team

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June 27, 2005

Searching in Times Square

Curiosity is natural, whether it's online or off. In fact, curiosity fuels many of the searches we perform. We all love to know what the people around us are doing and thinking. On a daily basis, we examine these little bits of knowledge through the powerful prism of search. We bring them to you in a number of ways -- Yahoo! Buzz keeps an eye on trends in the world of search, while popular video and image searches reflect what's hot amid rapidly growing content available on the Web. Well, now we've brought the world of popular search to what's known as "The Crossroads of the World" -- Times Square in New York City.

Earlier this month we launched our Top Search Challenge on the Reuters Sign in Times Square. We're showcasing live query streams from cities around the country while challenging visitors and passers-by to test their knowledge of top searches. While standing in Times Square gawking at the 23-story presence of Yahoo! Search, you can dial in from your mobile phone to go head-to-head with the enormous electronic billboard.

If you happen to be in the Big Apple, head on over to Times Square and take a shot at our search-based challenge. This Tuesday, we narrow the focus of the challenge to questions on the subject of New York City top searches for one day only. If you think you're an NYC know-it-all, come check it out at noon. We know you're curious.

Erik Gunther

Yahoo! Buzz Index Editor

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June 20, 2005

Second Weather Report: Yahoo! Launching New Search Index Tonight

This is our second weather report. We will be making changes to the index tonight so you should be seeing more of your pages in the index as well as some fluctuations in the rankings of results from previous searches.

I will be traveling to New Orleans later this week to speak at the Webmasterworld Search Conference . It promises to be hot, humid and rainy down on Bourbon Street. I will be doing a morning Q&A with Brett Tabke and then the search super session with the other search companies in the afternoon. Jeremy Zawodny will also be speaking on blogging and podcasting on Wednesday and Thursday. Hope to see many of you there.

If you have any feedback for us about the new index please email: ystfeedback@yahoo.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Tim Mayer
Yahoo! Search

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June 16, 2005

Popular Image Searches

So you're an avid image searcher. On Yahoo! Image Search, you caught a glimpse of Michael Jackson's trial, dreamt of your summer Yosemite camping trip, and scoped out the latest playstation psp to see what the craze is all about.

Ever wonder what other people are searching for on Image Search?

Wonder no more: You can now peek into the hearts and minds of fellow searchers on the image search homepage. In our "Popular Image Searches" module, you'll find image search terms that are commanding the most attention, topics that are likely to strike your fancy as well. Think of it as the TV guide for image search-look up recent favorites, including batman comic, land art, and fushigi. (You can try this also on video search.)

As an aside, the size/color toggle that a number of you had previously requested is now up on the image results page. Check it out, and keep the great feedback coming!

Kaigene J. Jau
Product Manager, Image Search

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June 15, 2005

Expanding Your Web Searches to Include Deep Web Subscription Content

When I was in college, our university library had access to over 650 digital information sources, from broad-based sources such as the Oxford English Dictionary and InfoTrac to focused sources such as Women and Social Movements in the United States. Generally, these sources of knowledge were built and maintained by other institutions or companies, and the university would work with those companies to purchase a campus-wide subscription to their digital knowledge. Everyone on campus found these resources very useful, but eventually the librarians were faced with a problem—each of these great digital knowledge sources was a standalone product. If a student wanted to research a particular topic thoroughly, she/he would have to sit down in front of several different computers and perform several searches, each time using a different interface and searching different texts.

We know that millions of you have subscriptions to very valuable information sources that are password protected or otherwise inaccessible to Web search engines. Some people refer to such content as part of the deep Web. Since this content isn’t in Web search engines, you have to visit each site individually and conduct multiple searches to have a truly comprehensive search. We set out to address this problem by partnering with several popular deep Web content providers (Consumer Reports, Forrester Research, FT.com, the IEEE, the New England Journal of Medicine, TheStreet.com, the Wall Street Journal Online, the ACM, Factiva, LexisNexis, and Thomson Gale) to build Yahoo! Search Subscriptions. Now it’s easy to include results from a number of popular subscription sites in your everyday Web search experience. You still need a subscription to the sites if you want to access their content, and since all Yahoo! users aren’t subscribed to the same sites, you can select the sources you want to search by setting your personal search subscriptions preferences.

What we’re releasing today in the U.S. and the UK is only the beginning of larger efforts to help you find more of the information that’s useful to you. Just like everything else we do, Yahoo! Search Subscriptions will continue to improve. We will expand the list of content sources globally (feel free to suggest a publication or if you are a publisher and would like to join this program contact us). So please give it a test drive and let us know what you think. You can get started at http://search.yahoo.com/subscriptions or http://search.yahoo.co.uk/subscriptions.

John Riccardi
Product Manager
Yahoo! Search

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June 14, 2005

Last Chance to Impress Us (and win some cash)

Just a quick reminder... The deadline for entering the Y!Q Challenge is just around the corner--Thursday evening, in fact. Can you say "$5,000 spending money for the Summer"?

Seriously. Play with HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and maybe win some cash. What's not to like about that?

Anyway, there's still time left... but not much. So get on it.

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Search

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June 03, 2005

Yahoo! Search on the Road in June

I was just looking at the conference schedule and realized we're going to be out and about quite a bit this month. Here's quick (possibly incomplete) list of where we're going to be:

If you're planning to attend any of those, be sure to stop by and say hello.

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Search

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