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August 29, 2006

FUSE in Education

Long-time readers of the Yahoo! Search blog have seen the acronym FUSE a few times already. FUSE comes from our vision for search: Find, Use, Share, and Expand all human knowledge.

As I watched the 20 minute video of Richard Baraniuk's presentation at TED 2006, I realized that the Connexions project he spoke of (and his larger vision for how technology can improve education) is a fantastic example of FUSE in the world of education.

If you have 20 minutes to spare, check out the video. Starting with Apple's "Create, Rip, Mix, and Burn" slogan, he paints a compelling vision for the future of education and open technology.

More videos from TED 2006 are being posed on the TED Blog and on TED Talks.

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Developer Network


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August 28, 2006

Searching for Mortgage Rates and Real Estate

Hi folks, we just launched a redesign of Yahoo! Real Estate. As part of this you can now find up-to-date local mortgage rate information directly within web search. Go to Yahoo! and search for '[your city] mortgage rates' (ex: Santa Clara mortgage rates).

Mortgage DD 8.22.png

The new shortcut displays three of the most popular loan types along with their daily rates and the week-over-week trend. The shortcut also has links to view nearby individual lender rates as well as state mortgage rate trend graphs. If you're looking for a mortgage type that is not displayed, you can click the 'More mortgage rates' link for additional loan types. You can also select the 'Calculate payment' link to figure out your monthly payments and amortization schedule for your desired loan amount.

Now seems like a good time to bring you up to date on some additional Yahoo! Real Estate search shortcuts such as the home valuation shortcut and local real estate search shortcut for ‘[city] real estate’ queries (ex: ‘san Francisco real estate’). This shortcut helps users narrow their search and easily access local homes for sale by linking directly to MLS listings in the area in which they are searching.

SF Homes Shortcut 8.22.png

The newly launched site also features a brand new design that leverages the Yahoo! Maps API with satellite imagery, and the Yahoo! Local API, both of which are available to the public.

With the new design, you can easily browse homes on a map and plot nearby points of interest such as schools, grocery stores, parks, and restaurants; many of which feature user reviews from Yahoo! Local. The site also allows you to research local market conditions such as an area's housing inventory, median price, price trends, mortgage rates, and rate trends.

We hope these new features add breadth of service, usability and value to the more than 3 million home listings and existing real estate services Yahoo! offers. If you are looking to do some research, buy or sell, check out the new site and let us know what you think!

Vivek Gupta
Senior Engineering Manager, Yahoo! Real Estate

Carlos Teran
Product Manager, Yahoo! Real Estate


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Local and Maps Update on Flickr and Upcoming

Mixing and matching unique content and technology is a defining aspect of the current Internet environment. And when it comes to mixing in location, maps and local is at the center of it all.

Today we are unveiling two new features that really highlight what local context can bring to social software. The products and services of two of our team's favorites - Flickr and Upcoming - have been enhanced via integration with Yahoo! Maps and Yahoo! Local.

First is a new GeoTagging feature on Flickr. Using Yahoo! mapping and geo-tagging platforms, users can drag and drop photos to associate them with a location, and view and discover photos on an interactive map. Now, users have a whole new way to search, browse and save photos on Flickr. Give it a spin and let us know what you think!

Also, our journey to offer the most vibrant social events platform on the Web takes a big step forward today. A slew of new event content now appears on Upcoming, via Yahoo! Local event feeds. There are some new design changes we think you'll like, as well. With these changes, we think you'll not find a more active and engaging online event destination than Upcoming.

Of course, in the spirit of sharing and expanding knowledge, there are APIs for outside developers to remix their content or technology with Flickr, Local, Maps and Upcoming.

For additional details on today’s news, take a look at posts from Stewart and Andy.

Paul Levine
GM, Yahoo! Local


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August 25, 2006

Weather Report: Yahoo! Search Index Update

As some have noted, we rolled out a new search index. As usual, you'll see some changes in ranking along with what is in the index. We've heard webmasters like you love the communication, such as weather reports from us. We are trying to connect with you more directly and enrich our interaction even further through Site Explorer. Please authenticate your site in Site Explorer and join the conversation on the Site Explorer forum.

For other feedback or support issues, please refer to our webmaster resources page. We love hearing from you.

Thanks
Priyank


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August 24, 2006

It’s a Flickr Moment!

We’ve all had moments in our lives when we wished we had our cameras around to capture a perfect sunset, an amusing cloud shape in the sky, or a candid shot of our friends, family or pets. That’s why Flickr is so great. It is full of these moments - as seen through the eyes of the world. Whenever I go looking for interesting images on Flickr, I’m always amazed by the diversity. Some are outright funny; others are serene, moving, or striking.

Now you can find this experience through Yahoo! Search. Try searching for funny photos and you’ll find hilarious and wacky Flickr photos of animals, kids, and signs. Searching for things that people think are funny is a good example of a query where combining what the community knows (and tags) with what algorithms can compute can lead to better search results.

If you are looking for striking photos, try searching for interesting photos. Sifting through these images makes me wish I could take a few months off to travel the world and just take pictures. Or, I guess I should finally go take that photography class I’ve been thinking about. For now, I’ll continue to appreciate the collection of images from various photography groups on Flickr. Try searching for travel photography, nature photography, or black and white photography.

I hope you enjoy getting lost in this experience as much as I do. Let us know your thoughts and ideas - we aim to expand this in the future.

Lingxian Ding
Yahoo! Search


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August 22, 2006

Q&A with Raghu Ramakrishnan

Earlier this summer, Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan joined Yahoo! as Vice President and Yahoo! Research Fellow. Raghu joins us after 20 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a professor of computer science and a co-founder of the Data Mining Institute. We sat down with Raghu to talk about his thoughts on joining Yahoo! and his mission to advance social search.

On Joining Yahoo!

Q: Did Yahoo! find you… or did you find Yahoo!?
A: I was at the University of Wisconsin for 20 years, only taking a brief sabbatical to start my own company called QUIQ. I have known Usama Fayyad for years, so he talked with me about joining Yahoo! Research when he heard I was considering leaving Madison. I spoke with colleagues at Google, Microsoft and IBM, as well as some other universities, but in the end, Yahoo! was an easy choice for many reasons.

I wanted to continue doing research, and I have also been interested in the web and online communities for a while. Yahoo! provided a natural fit for both my expertise in managing massive amounts of data and my interest in web communities. It's also nice that a company like Yahoo! is willing to embrace new ideas and invest in a world-class research organization, and then has the enormous customer-base and resources to execute on the ideas that emerge. At Yahoo! Research, you can take an idea and build around it, hang your shingle on the web, and get people to come try it out, all the while studying the underlying principles rigorously and addressing the challenges of building dynamic, scalable online systems ... this is not easy to do at a university.

What I really liked about Yahoo is the overarching philosophies about developing a community-centric business. Yahoo! has Mail, Groups, del.icio.us, Flickr and others that clearly are an integral part of the overall corporate strategy. But at the end of the day, throughout the interview process, the dynamics were good. It's nice to be at a web-oriented company, and Yahoo! has a most-impressive research group.


Q: What can a database and data mining expert bring to a social search team?
A: Search should do more than connect a person and a web page. Search should reflect how people use the web to live their lives online, whether they are sharing photos, participating in groups, researching restaurants or swapping ideas. I think the next big step in search functionality will come from enabling users to share what they know, and Yahoo! already facilitates sharing in a myriad ways. The key to social search is taking this shared activity to the next level by using it to improve ranking of search results, and to connect people with others who are authorities on certain topics.

Where does data management come in? A social ecosystem is growing on the web, so we need to build the apps that facilitate it; managing the information and relationships is a central challenge. Where does data mining come in? Learning from shared activity is a key to effective social search. Equally important, data mining research can suggest ways to detect and prevent breaches of privacy - trust is central to online communities.


Q: What is your #1 goal for the first six months on the job?
A: My main goal in the first six months is to get a clue as to what is going on at Yahoo! This is a big company with a lot going on! I want to connect with folks in community products like Answers and Groups, and engage with teams developing computing platforms. I also want to get going on research, and start building the team in the new Community Systems group within Yahoo! Research.

Q: What was your first impression of the Yahoo! campus?
A: Cool: free coffee! (Raghu starts his day with a double macchiato or a double cortado)


On Social Search

Q: You have a vision to "make social search natural to users." How will you make this happen?
A: I think social search is a core concept that should be woven into a number of applications that people use to search, to share, and in general to get things done online. At the end of the day, people should do what they enjoy, what they need to get done, and the applications (including search) should simply become more effective, thanks to our ability to analyze shared information and use it to help them connect to what they are looking for. The key insight behind social search is therefore to amplify the human element of information sharing by using it to enhance algorithmic search, and vice-versa.

On Random Thoughts

Q: You made a big move from Wisconsin ... what has been your biggest surprise about California living?
A: I didn't know you had things like heat waves here. I knew about earthquakes, but this heat is un-cool.

Q: Will you miss the snowy winters?
A: No, but my kids will miss the snow and ice. I thought the California winters would be a bonus to moving here, but they are really disappointed about leaving the skiing and skating, which is a way of life in Wisconsin. (And no, driving 3 hours to Tahoe doesn't make up for it.)

Q: So tell us, is the cheese really better in California?
A: This is a loaded question. I’ll just say that the cows are happier in Wisconsin, and I have not gotten around to trying the California cheese yet!


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August 18, 2006

Your Yahoo! is Showing

There's been some reports about how Google is trying to stop people from using the term, googling. When I heard about it, I was like, "Hello, gift horse, mouth!"

Most companies, including ours, spend a great deal of time trying to turn our brands into household names. In fact, we just kicked off a marketing campaign called "Your Yahoo! has changed" that is meant to encourage people to have fun with our brand by creating their own commercials.

To catch the spirit, I've been thinking about replacing words in famous songs or sayings, for example, using Yahoo! as the keyword in the famous King Missile song:

...as I walked down Second Avenue towards St. Marks Place,
where all those people sell used books and other junk on the street,
I saw MY YAHOO lying on a blanket
next to a broken toaster oven.
Some guy was selling it.
I had to buy MY YAHOO off him.
He wanted twenty-two bucks, but I talked him down to seventeen.
I took it home, washed it off,
and put MY YAHOO back on. I was happy again. Complete.

That may not be what the brand guys wanted me to come up with (or is it?), but nevertheless, it's what I thought of.

People don’t often do what you want them to do, and brands are more about what consumers think, than what companies want. We're ok with that. You want the yodel? Have it anytime you want (just mouse over the ! on the front page and click). Is Yahoo! a verb, noun or exclamation? Maybe it's all of them.

We leave that to you. You can Yahoo! to your heart's content, any way you want to. Heck, you can even build your own Yahoo! Search engine.

Tara Kirchner
Yahoo! Search


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August 16, 2006

Rollyo Rolls On, Powered by the Yahoo! Developer Network

Over the past few weeks, we at the Yahoo! Developer Network have been working with our Yahoo! Search colleagues to launch a couple of enhancements to our search-related developer offerings: version 2.0 of our Search SDK and new functionality for our Site Explorer API.

While we love pushing out new capabilities to developers using the Yahoo! Search platform, we love the applications they build even more. We especially like it when developers continue to build new functionality on top of our core APIs. Rollyo, the "roll your own" search engine and one of our earliest partners and users of the Yahoo! Web Search API, recently rolled out (pun intended!) a new version of their product with a batch of new features, including a new homepage and a dashboard that allows you to manage your Rollyo experience. As the Rollyo FAQ says, "Yahoo provides the engine and Rollyo puts you behind the steering wheel" -- and the new model of the powered-by-Yahoo! Rollyo car handles quite nicely, thank you very much.

If you're not familiar with Rollyo, the core of Rollyo is the "Searchroll," a personalized search engine that provides results from a collection of user-selected sites about any topic of interest. The topics of the Searchrolls range from "Everything Star Wars" to "Modern Furniture" to "Celebrity Gossip" -- and everything in between. Users can also share any of the over 100,000 existing Searchrolls with each other. Even better, any user can make a copy of any Searchroll they like and tweak it to make it their own, and then share the new Searchroll with others. You can also use the new Rollbar bookmarklet to search any site you're visiting and to access or edit Searchrolls from anywhere. And you can add any of your Searchrolls to your Firefox search toolbar.

Congrats to Dave Pell and the Rollyo team on their relaunch. We're looking forward to helping accelerate the efforts of more developers like Rollyo with web-scale search (and other) services from the Yahoo! Developer Network. If you’re looking for inspiration and the tools for your next big idea, be sure to keep up with what we’re doing at our blog.

Chad Dickerson
Yahoo! Developer Network


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August 15, 2006

Yahoo! Answers API Now Available

Since we launched Yahoo! Answers, we've seen some amazing growth. In July, Comscore recorded us at 14.3 million unique users in the US. Those users have written over 38 million answers so far, and that number is growing each and every day. We're all about sharing all those questions and answers with the world, and the latest way we have of doing that is with the Yahoo! Answers API, now available on the Yahoo! Developer Network.

A few months ago, we created a Flash Answers badge for to show off your questions and answers. Now, it's your turn to create your own badge or custom Answers application with the new Answers API. The API is a set of developer tools to help you build applications that use Yahoo! Answers content.

Using this API, you can access Answers content by user, search keyword, or category. These API's are almost identical to what Yahoo! properties use, and we hope that you’ll think of new and interesting ways to view and use all the info on Yahoo! Answers. We’ve also set up a Yahoo! Group for you to get tips, share your ideas and even brag about your applications.

We've used this API to build Messenger plugins, flash badges, and all kinds of nifty integrations within Yahoo!, but we know there are a lot of great ideas out there. We'll feature cool applications on our blog and in the Yahoo! Gallery, and we're looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Quy Le
Product Manager, Yahoo! Answers


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August 10, 2006

In the Lion's Den

Today we’re pleased to bring you a post by Jan Pedersen, Chief Scientist for Yahoo!’s Search and Marketplace. Jan began his career at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he managed a research program on information access technologies, and then went on to work with Verity, Infoseek, and Alta Vista, purchased by Overture.

Today, Jan is a very familiar sight around our campus, often in the company of the search industry’s leading minds – folks that work at Yahoo!, like Andrei Broder, as well as many others from IBM, Google, Microsoft, and major academic institutions here and abroad. The role these scientists play in advancing the search industry and raising the game for all of us cannot be underestimated. Jan is also on the board for the Association for Computing Machinery special interest group for information retrieval, SIGIR.


The 29th annual meeting of the SIGIR is currently taking place among the picturesque buildings of the University of Washington in Seattle. Though last year's was in Brazil, this year’s conference is very well attended indeed; more than 700 hundred academics, industry scientists and other search aficionados have gathered together to hear the thoughts of the very select 20% of submitters who cleared the tough referee bar this year. The winning papers range in topic from web search (of special interest to us, although fairly new to this audience) to papers addressing the backbone issues in machine learning, efficiency and system evaluation.

My current favorite, which also happened to win the best paper award at the conference banquet last night (here are some photos), describes how through clever sampling techniques one can dramatically reduce the editorial cost of a comparative search engine evaluation. Another interesting paper by the folks at Microsoft describes how they might incorporate user click behavior and other feedback into their search engine ranking.

Speaking of Microsoft, their presence at the conference is large and impressive, not only because of the conference’s proximity to the Redmond campus this year, but also because the various Microsoft research groups are hogging the limelight with twelve papers, around 17% of the total program, an unprecedented showing. Yahoo! is presenting three papers (all of extraordinary quality...) and Google is presenting two. But to twist the lion’s tail, too bad search share isn’t in the same order ;-)

Mixing with colleagues I haven’t seen for years is of course a key dimension of these events. Would you believe it – we search scientists know how to party! The conference banquet was quite an event, a luau-like salmon dinner with the required (but thankfully brief) display of dance performace, and the ferry ride across Puget Sound in the evening with the Seattle skyline laid out before us was extraordinarily beautiful. Of course the Yahoo! reception Tuesday night at the Science Fiction History Museum set exactly the right tone -- Yahootini’s were had by all.

Jan Pedersen
Chief Scientist, Search and Marketplace


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Pointing Webmaster Queries to Site Explorer

A lot of webmasters use Yahoo! Search to get page and inlink data about their site, using 'site:', 'link:', 'linkdomain:' queries. Starting last night, we are redirecting all queries of this nature to the Site Explorer results pages, so that you can benefit from this tool's additional features.

To reiterate, the following types of queries will be redirected:

  • site:ysearchblog.com
  • link:http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000341.html
  • linkdomain:ysearchblog.com

All other queries, such as the ones below, will not be redirected:

  • ysearchblog.com
  • ysearchblog
  • site:ysearchblog.com webmasters (looking for ysearchblog posts mentioning webmasters)
  • link:http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000341.html Danny Sullivan (looking for links to the article mentioning Danny Sullivan)
  • linkdomain:ysearchblog.com site:yahoo.com (looking for links to ysearchblog from within yahoo.com)

Site Explorer, since its launch last year, has had various features geared to serve webmaster needs for data about their web site, such as data downloads in TSV format and more accurate counts of results. On Tuesday we launched an upgraded version of the Site Explorer with several new features.

For those of you who will be seeing Site Explorer for the first time, we hope that you will find that these features make your lives easier.

If you want to extract this data programmatically, please use our Web Service APIs. The APIs provide the same data and will be more stable and easier to parse than our search page, which we regularly change to make user experience improvements for our users.

A hearty thank you to the many webmasters who have tried out Site Explorer's new functionality since the Tuesday update. If you haven't visited yet stop by to register your site and let us know your thoughts on Site Explorer in our forum.

Priyank Garg
Product Manager, Yahoo! Search


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August 08, 2006

Site Explorer Update

We opened a little window into Yahoo! Search last year, when we launched Site Explorer. We hoped it would be useful to webmasters--providing you with information about the links to and from your site, neatly categorized and displayed in an easy-to-use interface. We've listened to your feedback, and are now ready with the next version of Site Explorer--our biggest update since December.

We're now organized around sites you'd like to track. You can explore these, and add feeds to each site. Once you authenticate your site, you can see much more information about your URLs as you explore your site, and monitor feeds you've submitted.

So what's new?

  • More information about sites you own, including:
    • Last Crawled Date and Language for your Site URLs
    • Subdomains of your site
  • Feed submissions are much smoother. You can submit RSS, Atom and URL lists, and manage all of them from one place. For authenticated sites, you can also track when they were submitted and processed.
  • UpdateNotification Web Service to notify us of feed or site updates, part of the suite of Site Explorer APIs you already know and love. Since these return the same data as the tool, we recommend using them for automated applications.

We hope you'll like our new interface, with a lot of little details sprinkled all over, such as the expandable results to reduce clutter, the ability to download more URLs from sites you own, and robust authentication. Share your comments through our feedback form or see what others are saying on the new Site Explorer forum.

We welcome you through the doors, and hope you'll forgive our tacky metaphors! :-)

Amit Kumar, Priyank Garg
and the entire Yahoo! Site Explorer Team


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August 07, 2006

BlogHer Revisited

I'd be lying if I told you that the mood in the blogher-sphere following the second annual BlogHer conference was one of love, consensus, and kumbaya. This past week, coverage of the two-day event has run the gamut: complimentary, contentious, provocative, bitchy, grumpy, high-minded, strident, creative, insightful, defensive, forward-looking, apologetic, apoplectic, chaotic, well-reasoned, thoughtful, tolerant, intolerant, inconsistent and impassioned.

Personally, I think the noisy aftermath is a testimonial to the extraordinary range of people who participated -- their skills, goals, lifestyles, origins, gender, politics, and professions -- and their commitment to conversation as a vehicle for personal change and social action.

The scaling problems and other growing pains have been acknowledged. Blogher's founders Elisa Camahort , Jory des Jardins, and Lisa Stone, have responded frankly on their blogs to the criticisms and complaints. That in itself is unique and commendable. Fact is, three "chicks with credit cards" launched a grassroots conference in 2005, and in 2006 turned it into a remarkably affordable and inspiring two-day event for over 700 women and men, from Europe; Asia; Australia, and North America ( including attendees from 41 U.S. states).

I have no doubt that this year's BlogHer theme (How is your blog changing your world?) will continue to engage women and men, technologists, activists, and diarists of all orientations. I have no doubt that wireless connectivity at BlogHer will be better next year. I suspect that social media-savvy sponsors from inside and outside the tech industry will be back. And people will blog their way, I hope, to a better understanding of each other's points of view.

It was Yahoo!'s second year as a sponsor, and once again, we were happy to be there. We applaud Blogher's mission: "To create opportunities for women bloggers to pursue exposure, education and community." Yahoo! slipped a purple pen and notebook into the schwag bag. We dressed the pool deck in purple and served plenty of our famous Yahootinis at the closing night cocktail party. "Divine lemony goodness with purple sugar," wrote blogger Tiffany B. Brown.

Yahoo! employees participated on a variety of panels. Others, like longtime blogger Susan Mernit, posted their observations. We were there as ourselves, sharing knowledge and experience:

  • Heather Champ, Flickr community manager, and photoblogger extraordinaire, did a workshop on digital photography for blog publishers.
  • Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake joined Marnie Webb, and Pyra Labs (home of Blogger) co-founder Meg Hourihan to talk about Web 2.0 and what's next in tech.
  • danah boyd moderated a panel discussion titled " Outreach Blogging is not for the faint-hearted." Panelists discussed blogging sensitive topics like mental illness, eating disorders, and addiction. They explored issues of secrecy and honesty, and described listening and responding to cries for help from readers they'd never met.
  • Mecca Ibrahim is a UK-based product manager for Yahoo! 360, who blogs pseudonymously as Annie Mole on the London Underground. On a panel about growing and changing as a blogger called "Next Level Naked," Mecca talked about techniques and workarounds for burnout, and described how the London underground bombings of July 2005 connected her with her readers in unexpected ways.

I've been trying to articulate some of the changes since last year's conference, which felt more tech-centric, and included passionate discussion about the visibility of women bloggers, and why there were so few females among the "A-list bloggers." This year, the A-list seems altogether less important, less invincible, as blogging becomes more mainstream and pervasive.

So much attention is moving toward what Technorati's Dave Sifry calls "'The Magic Middle' of the attention curve" -- a place on the long tail of content where "interesting and influential bloggers and publishers are ... writing about topics that are topical or niche ... and in some cases are radically changing the economics of trade publishing."

But, it's not just, as Robert Scoble notes, that women talk about those things like "mothering, cooking, sewing, and soft stuff like feelings, sex, relationships, along with broader things like books and movies... "--more than guys do at tech conferences. It's that women across the blogosphere are doing more than finding their niche and monetizing it. Much like teenagers and young adults in new online social superspaces, they are also pioneering new community structures built on changing fundamentals of time, space, presence, and ubiquity.

Women bloggers and the communities they form are developing and inhabiting spaces where many-to-many conversation can flourish, where safety and solace can be found. Ideas are transmitted, experiment is tolerated, and new genres of exchange can be explored.

Havi Hoffman
Yahoo!


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Announcing Yahoo! Search Builder

Look Ma, My Own Search Engine!

It’s always great to help a friend. A friend of mine who is a diver wanted a specialized search engine for his website focused on diving. At around the same time, an engineer at Yahoo! built a prototype that made building specialized search engines a snap. Now, whether you have a blog or website about diving, gaming, crafting, or anything in between you can create a search engine tailored for your users.

With Yahoo! Search Builder you can create a custom Web search engine by selecting a set of trusted sites to search across or you can tune the search algorithm to the topic of your choice. Beyond Web search, Search Builder includes Site search and News search.

Then generate the code you’ll need to add your search engine to your site. You also have control over the look and feel of the search box and search results page. Voila! Instant search engine!

Managing your search engine

We’ve created a basic suite of tools to help you understand your search traffic. With the popular search module, you’ll discover hot searches your users are interested in. With user and traffic reports, you’ll be able to monitor the growth of your search engine.

We look forward to your comments and feedback. Let us know what new features you would like us to add.

In the meantime, check out these cool search engines on diving and gaming. Try searching for "caves" on the diving search engine and you’ll find great spots for cave diving. Similarly, try "NFL" on the gaming search engine and you’ll find the new NFL game.

Lingxian Ding
Yahoo! Search


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August 03, 2006

What's cooking at del.icio.us

delicious.42px.gif It's been a busy few months for the del.icio.us team -- building new features, scaling-up our infrastructure to meet growing demand, and working with our Yahoo! and MyWeb colleagues to share ideas and integrate our technologies. We hope you like what you've seen so far, and our thanks to all of you who use and enjoy del.icio.us. We wanted to take a moment and fill you in on our latest thoughts and tinkering.

del.icio.us started out as a tool for helping you remember interesting things you find on the Web, but it quickly grew into something more: a unique online community where the actions of individuals provide very real and immediate benefits to others. When you use del.icio.us to bookmark and tag a Web page, you're also automatically helping other people find that page, and you're also contributing to a cooperative effort to make the Web more understandable.

As the del.icio.us community has grown, what we've found is that it's not just the bookmarks that are interesting – it's the people, too. del.icio.us is filling up with people who are building collections of really interesting, relevant, timely links on a huge range of subjects. These people and their collections are every bit as interesting as the links themselves. Imagine if you could find these people as easily as you find links by searching del.icio.us or the Web.

Lately, we've really started to explore the possibilities. You may have seen the news about the network feature we launched a few months back, which lets you connect to other del.icio.us users. Today we're taking things a step further. We’ve just rolled out a new network badge that makes it easy to tell people about your network from your own Web site or blog. It also gives your readers a fast and easy way to add you to their own networks. This lets del.icio.us users start using their network as a kind of online reputation, and it nicely complements our existing tagrolls and linkrolls. As of today we are also supplementing our typical tag suggestions with suggested users. Now when you visit the page for any active tag (for example, /popular/news), you will see a list of "active users" who are the people who are saving the most links using that tag.

Between these two features, we are continuing our efforts to make people and connections more central to the del.icio.us experience. We have quite a bit more planned in this regard, so stay tuned and keep letting us know what you think.

Joshua Schachter and the del.icio.us team


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August 01, 2006

And The Answer Is...

Over on the Yahoo! Answers blog, the news is out that
Dr. Stephen Hawking’s question on Yahoo! Answers, "How will the human race survive the next 100 years?", was resolved today
, and the best answer is a thoughtful essay by Semi-Mad Scientist, a level 5 Answers user and self-reported avid geocacher. Congratulations!

Dr. Hawking also provided some of his own thoughts available on Yahoo! Video (and yes, outer space is in there).

Here’s the full transcript of Dr. Hawking’s thoughts:

How can the human race survive the next hundred years. I don't know the answer. That is why I asked the question, to get people to think about it, and to be aware of the dangers we now face. Before the 1940s, the main threat to our survival came from collisions with asteroids such collisions have caused mass extinctions in the past, but the last one was 70 million years ago, so the likelihood that we will need the services of Bruce Willis in the next hundred years, is very small. A much more immediate danger, is nuclear war. America and Russia, each have more than enough warheads to kill everyone on Earth, several times over, and the same may now be true of China. The world came perilously close to nuclear annihilation, on more than one occasion in the last 50 years. With the ending of the Cold War, the threat has become less acute, but it has not gone away. There are still enough nuclear weapons stock piled, to kill us all, and their use might be triggered by an accident that convinced a country that it was under attack.

There is now a new danger from small and potentially unstable countries, acquiring nuclear weapons. Such minor nuclear powers might cause millions of deaths, but they would not threaten the survival of the entire human race, unless they sparked a conflict between the major powers.

These dangers of asteroid collision and nuclear war, have now been joined by a host of other threats to our survival. Climate change is happening at an ever increasing rate. While we are hoping to stabilize it, and maybe even reverse it, by reducing our CO2 emissions, the danger is that the climate change may pass a tipping point at which the temperature rise becomes self sustaining. The melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice reduces the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space, and so increases the temperature further. The rise in sea temperature may trigger the release of large quantities of CO2, trapped at the bottom of the ocean, which will further increase the green house effect. Let's hope we don't end up like our sister planet, Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees Centigrade, and raining sulphuric acid.

There are other dangers, such as the accidental or intentional release of a genetically engineered virus. Each time we increase our technological powers, we add new possible ways in which things could go disastrously wrong. The human race faces an increasingly dangerous future. There's a sick joke, that the reason we haven't been visited by aliens, is that when a civilization reaches our stage of development, it becomes unstable, and destroys itself. In fact, I think there are other reasons why we haven't seen any aliens, but the story shows how perilous the situation is. The long term survival of the human race, will be safe only if we spread out into space, and then to other stars. This won't happen for at least a hundred years, so we have to be very careful. Perhaps, we must hope that genetic engineering will make us wise and less aggressive.

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Thanks all!

Tara Kirchner
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