A highly useful and very popular search system has developed with the advent of the recent Web 2.0 technologies.
This is of course the phenomena known as social bookmarking.
When the end user is locating resources that are relevant and useful to them, they are bookmarking it which usually means that the information is valuable. Social bookmarking works on the principle that if an information resource has been bookmarked, it then has some use, and then it's value could be shared.
It works on a similar principle to the normal bookmarking systems built into most browsers. Once a user brings up a website or page that they find valuable, they then bookmark it. That bookmark however is made on a social bookmarking site, rather than on the user's PC. These sites hold vast collections of bookmarks that are shared and distributed around the world.
The bookmark is tagged, which is where some words are entered that describe what the bookmark link is about, so that the information can have searches made against it.
Social bookmarking has similarities with a wiki, because the system's users manage the tags that accompany the bookmarks. Like a wiki, inaccurate tagging information will be filtered out over time, making the bookmark collection highly relevant to the subject being searched for.
Social bookmarking has picked up a semi-scientific phrase, known as folksonomy. This is effectively a mash up of two words: folk and taxonomy.
Taxonomy is a methodology of scientific classification and identification. By combining the word folk, the idea is to allude to a system of group classification and identification.
However, when compared to taxonomy, there are a couple of problems with this community-based method.
Due to it being a collaborative system, there is no solid and determined way for defining a common language. This effectively means that the vocabulary used for the tagging is different each time for each individual user. Since each person could define each word in a different way, the search relevancy can sometimes be lowered because of the different interpretations in language.
In addition, defining the parent/child relationships can be tricky. Bookmarking a word such as "animal" and "dog" will not show that "animal" is higher up in classification than the word "dog".
Social bookmarking has also become very popular with fringe Internet users who distribute spam, who will promote potentially illicit sites by tagging them with popular keywords. The owners of the social bookmarking sites have a continuous battle with spam distributors to keep the system clean and used for its intended purpose.
Regardless, social bookmarking has found itself to be a useful method for locating relevant and humanly validated information on the Internet. This human validation alone can cause it to be a better resource than some search engines, because search engine results are validated by a computer and not a person.
Should you be a producer of legal and valuable internet based information and would like to investigate social bookmarking as a method to put the spotlight on your work, it may well be a highly valuable tool to utilize. However, it has been known to consume the submitting users time quite viciously!