Google isn't content being the most popular Internet search engine -- it continuously tinkers to create a more immersive user experience. Sometimes it fails as PC World outlined in this article. And Google's SearchWiki, a user-edited search results feature unveiled yesterday, in my opinion is Google's latest bad idea since, well, since Lively.
SearchWiki allows you to edit and customize your search results pages. You must be signed into your Google account for it to work. Once signed in, if you search for "fantasy football stats" religiously and think the result should appear in a different order, you can rearrange search results to your liking. You can also delete unhelpful results and even comment on the page's usefulness.
When you rearrange, or re-rank, Google search results you affect only your Google account -- so don't expect your reorganized vision of the Web to impact other users. Comments, however, are universal.
Once you get involved in SearchWiki's features, it becomes frustratingly meta and throws chunks of logic out the window. You can comment on other user's comments. You can add your own URLs to your searches. How does that make sense? If you're searching for something, you shouldn't already know the destination URL, and if you do, why are you searching? And if you're continuously seeking the same exact thing, why not just bookmark the site?
What surprises me the most is that the feature is turned on by default within search results for all Google users (the feature is being phased in by Google and is not yet widely available). It's my guess that most average Googlers will be confused by what this tool does and struggle with why they should use it. Ultimately, it feels as if Google is working against its winning design formula of keeping things uncluttered and aesthetically clean.
There are reports the option to opt-out of SearchWiki by refusing to hit the "Yes, Continue" button on a screen explaining the program. Others, like me, were not given this option and are now seem stuck with it (no word on Google's official blog announcing SearchWiki on how to turn the feature off). At this moment there is no method I can find for turning SearchWiki icons off.
The beauty of Google was its simplicity. A logo, a search bar, and two buttons: Google Search and I'm Feeling Lucky. From there, users could quickly and accurately access billions of pages on the Internet. Adding unnecessary features only complicates the process and perverts the sole reason of Google Search's existence: to search. The concept is so elementary I cannot understand why Google bothers messing with it. At the very least - how come Google doesn't make it easier to configure your Google account to make WikiSearch clutter go away.