Blekko: Better Search by Looking in Fewer Haystacks

If you haven’t heard of Blekko, you should check it out soon.  How are Blekko searches different?  Consider this analogy.   When looking for a needle in a haystack, it helps to look in the right haystacks, right?  I mean if a needle is in one of 30 haystacks, Murphy’s Law (or similar) suggests that the needle is in the last haystack.  What if you could reduce the search down to 5 haystacks?  That would save you a lot of looking.

Haystacks, in this analogy, represent websites.  The number of websites continues to grow rapidly on a daily basis.  But why look through every website?  Blekko executes your search, but only over specified websites. (The search may cover more websites, but the results you get are only from the specified set)

Maybe an example is the best way to explain more about Blekko.  So, do a Blekko search for OAuth.  Just above the first result you’ll see something like “1 to 20 of 4M web results….”  How are you going to look through 4 million results?  Now use Blekko to search for OAuth, but only from Azure sites I’ve defined.  You’ll see that the number of results is far more manageable.

Now, look at the text in the search box.  “OAuth /jburnett/azure” tells Blekko to search for OAuth using the restrictions defined in ‘/jburnett/azure’ which Blekko calls a slashtag. A slash tag is just a handle to a set of URLs and other slashtags.  My Azure slashtag contains:

azure.com

blogs.msdn.com/windowsazure

codeplex.com

appfabriclabs.com

sqlazurelabs.com

Not cool enough for you?  Well, I lied.  My Azure slashtag really contains:

/amt/azure

codeplex.com

Slashtags are nestable – my slashtag is re-using another user’s Azure slashtag!  When they add useful websites to their slashtag, I’ll get results from those sites, too.

Check it out, and add your own slashtags.

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