Google whacks SearchWiki

Google has dumped its unpopular SearchWiki feature in favour of a simplified system of flagging search results with stars.

SearchWiki was rolled out in late 2008. It allowed logged-in Google users to change the order of search results for frequently used queries. The ordering changes were only visible to the user who made them, but comments from other users could also be viewed.

Google product manager Cedric Dupont blogged: "In our testing, we learned that people really liked the idea of marking a website for future reference, but they didn't like changing the order of Google's organic search results."

Now users will be able to flag results they like with star icons, a metaphor borrowed from other Google services such as Gmail and Reader. Starred results are saved to Google Bookmarks and will appear in a separate tab whenever a query is repeated.

Backpedalling on SearchWiki begs the question of just how popular search personalisation is among the common folk.

Search engine optimisation specialists hate it, for obvious reasons, but Google this week revealed that as many as one in five searches are tailored to the individual user's behaviour or location, regardless of whether or not they're logged in with a Google Account.