In our Blogma team's quest to compile timely, interesting and representative samplings of hot technology-related topics, we've become quite familiar with search tools such as Technorati, Google Blog Search, Feedster, IceRocket, etc.
And although we each have our favorites--and ones we've outgrown--they are all far from perfect, which is why we were excited to learn about Monday's launch of : Sphere.
Sphere, founded by Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, Steve Nieker and Toni Schneider, is based in San Francisco and promises more "relevant" blog search results uncluttered by blog spam. The group has reportedly received millions of dollars in fresh capital from Hearst Publishing, Trident Capital and About.com founder Scott Kurnit.
We used Sphere to find out what the blogosphere is saying about the new tool and were particularly impressed with both its profiles and stats on each blog listed, and its "Sphere It" link search tool, which lets you see what bloggers are saying about any given article or online discussion.
But for various reasons, some mentioned below, we still haven't found blog-search utopia.
Blog community response:
"Personally, I am not overly impressed with the tool. It is nice that they provide up to 7 lines of copy from the related blog in search results, but I did not find that the posting were relevant enough."
--The Search Engine Marketing Weblog
"Sphere has lots of promise, and has earned a place in my toolkit for the 'Sphere It!' feature. It seems unfinished, but that doesn't mean that you can't get a lot of value from what's there already."
"It's missing several key features - authority rankings, mobile search, tag search and the ability to sort through results in different languages...Still, I like Sphere a lot and I am wholeheartedly recommending it. It's drop dead simple to use and it has some nice features. If it adds a few more it can be a serious contender to T'Rati. The key here is going to be speed. How fast is Sphere vs. T'Rati. I see no way to ping them, which is not a good sign. We should run it through some benchmarks"
"And after trying out Sphere, I think I like it, but it does have some of the disadvantages of those blog search engines that index entire pages instead of just RSS feeds...My biggest problem with Sphere was the fact that it apparently indexes full sites and not RSS feeds only. This means that occasionally you'll get a result, go look at it, and see that it's on the bottom of a long blog page. Or you'll search for a blog name and find zillions of instances of it, but not as post mentions, but as inclusions on a blogroll. Setting narrow timeframes for the search results (a week or ten days) seems to tone down this problem some.
"The primary galvanizing force behind 99 percent of blog posts is whuffie search. Bloggers want to be well-known and recognized. It's okay, nothing wrong with that. Just like there's nothing wrong about going to the gym. It's vanity with plausible deniability. Sphere's blogger profiles could become a very good indicator of a blogger's position/respect/mindshare in the blogosphere."
--Steve Bryant's InterMedia