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Yahoo offers SearchMonkey experiments

It's now easier for programmers who want to gussy up Yahoo search results to get their ideas into circulation.

Programmers who might not make the cut for Yahoo's official SearchMonkey gallery now have a new experimental option for propagating their ideas for augmenting Yahoo search results.

"Starting today, even if an app doesn't meet all of the gallery guidelines, it will still be quickly approved as an experimental app provided the basic functionality operates as designed and we don't initially see any other major issues with it," said Nick Cox of the Yahoo search team on the Yahoo Search blog Friday.

SearchMonkey embeds selected search results into more elaborate packaging. For example, a restaurant appearing in the search results can change from a name with a Web site link into that plus an address, phone number, map, and customer reviews. Programmers create SearchMonkey applications that present the fancier results; SearchMonkey apps are enabled by default from Zagat, CitySearch, Yelp, LinkedIn, and Yahoo Local.

With the experimental option, Yahoo expects the early-adopter crowd will help programmers refine their SearchMonkey applications faster. "We think the early feedback that these users can provide will be extremely helpful for developers," Cox said. "This also gives users who opt-in an even wider variety of apps from which to choose."

SearchMonkey, part of Yahoo Open Strategy, is one element of Yahoo's attempt to make its site more useful and more used. Also in search, Yahoo offers BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) that lets others repackage, reorder, and remix Yahoo search results--with revenue-sharing or Yahoo-supplied advertising if the service gets popular.