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How Mahalo Works

Mahalo Greenhouse
The Mahalo Greenhouse webpage
The Mahalo Greenhouse webpage
Screenshot by HowStuffWorks

Mahalo guides build search results pages (SeRPs) in the Mahalo Greenhouse. The Greenhouse uses MediaWiki software, which allows multiple users to create and modify wikis.

Each results page must conform to Mahalo's standards, including the appearance and layout of the page. Mahalo provides guides the code they need to generate a SeRP, complete with generic headings that the employee must replace with the appropriate search topic.

The most important standard for any SeRP is that the results have to be the best content on the Internet regarding that search topic. Mahalo's standards mean that certain kinds of sites are not acceptable as search returns, including:

  • Spam sites
  • Sites with intrusive or distracting advertising
  • Malicious sites (Web pages that include phishing scams, computer viruses or other harmful content)
  • Sites that contain plagiarized material or that simply mirror other sites
  • Sites with unknown owners or content managers, meaning there's no way to see who controls the site
  • Sites that contain adult content or hate speech
  • Sites that aren't in English, or are in English but don't follow rules of grammar

Mahalo strives to include only sites that are sources of expert information and provide the user with a pleasant, helpful experience. If a site doesn't meet those criteria, it's not likely that Mahalo will feature it on a SeRP. In cases of copyright infringement, Mahalo places the site on a list of banned sites and will never feature it on any SeRP.

Other search categories, called verticals, have different layouts. Mahalo aims to group search results together by relevance and focus. For example, in travel searches, all hotel search results appear under one section, while sites dealing with air travel appear in another. The goal is to create a SeRP the user can scan quickly to find exactly what he or she is looking for, but to include plenty of other great links so that he or she can browse around to other related pages.

In the next section, we'll learn about the steps a Mahalo guide follows to create a SeRP.