Red Herring reports on a social search engine that has launched called PreFound. Like others in this growing space — led most notably by Yahoo! (Flickr, MyWeb, del.icio.us etc.) — its success will depend on gaining a critical mass of users to do all the tagging and indexing on which a social search model is based.
The challenge is that such users are currently made up of a small early adopter crowd, and there are only so many of them to go around among the growing numbers of start-ups in the space. Competition from a Web giant such as Yahoo! exacerbates this challenge.
From the article:
In an interview last week, PreFound's CEO Steve Mansfield said the site was looking for experts to become featured finders on the site. To do this, these experts must upload groups of links on a topic that they've tagged and organized on the web.
It sounds like this means it will rely less on the "masses" of users than on a smaller segment of experts on certain topics (sounds a lot like About.com, which isn’t necessarily social search). This means it could be less under the pressure of gaining the critical mass of content contributors mentioned above because it will be more of a niche offering of knowledge and info in certain categories.
Unlike some of Yahoo!’s efforts in the social search space that will rely on users’ intrinsic desire to share and tag content, PreFound will incentivize contributions by sharing AdSense-generated revenues. So it will come down to a question of whether or not the company is effective at attracting these contributors and if it’s a compelling enough experience for users of the site.
We’ll take a closer look at PreFound and the social search space in an upcoming White Paper.