A while back I signed up for a beta account for Sphere , which, in its “about” section, defines itself like this:
Sphere is a new kind of blog search engine that uses an advanced algorithm to discover high-quality, relevant, and timely blog posts.
Well, today I received an invitation to check out their service. That I did. Being the egocentric that I am, I searched for “stormgrass”, which rendered the impressive result of two postings (both of which were quite recent). There’s also a link which, when clicked, makes them display everything else they’ve got from my site. Which were six posts. Which is not exactly impressive. But alas, I guess there are not too many relevant postings on my site. Hey, it’s quite impressive I’m in there at all, considering that I tend to blog about Döner Kebab or huge Schnitzels in Budapest restaurants.
Sphere also features a “blog profile” of every blog. If you’ve found a blog (i.e. mine), and you want to know a few things real quick, click on the “profile” button, and a little window will appear, telling you a few things about the blog; update frequency, average number of words per post, number of links per post, etc. Which is actually quite a nice idea, and well implemented (apart from the fact that the little window seems to be semi transparent, making it really hard to read the URL of that one blog that linked to me recently). Because the whole thing is still in Beta, I won’t hold it against them that my blog’s profile says I only post once a week. I think that during the last year I posted at least twice a week, every week. Which leaves me wondering how they calculate their average numbers.
(by the way, I noticed that some blogs are apparently posting “0” times a week, leaving me wondering how the hell these posts get up there…).
If you’re searching for a blog other than Stormgrass, there’ll most likely be a “Related Blogs” thing in the sidebar, telling you which blogs are related to the blog or the keyword you’ve searched for. They also serve up news articles related to the query in the sidebar, and they give you the option of searching for a specific phrase or word inside a blog or a blog’s domain. Quite handy really, all that functionality.
The whole thing seems very polished, although a bit buggy with numbers and dates (my Microsoft live.com update wasn’t posted two days ago, for example). It’s a good start in the right direction, although I’m always a bit wary when it comes to elitist decisions about relevance. Sure, there may be a complicated algorithm behind it all, but in the end it’s quite probably about who links to whom.
PS: Where’s their blog?