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Boost to Yahoo's social search efforts

Top researcher brought on board

Yahoo has hired a high-level researcher to bolster its social search projects, it said yesterday.

Raghu Ramakrishnan, who has been appointed vice-president and research fellow, is an expert in data mining and online communities. He will help the company develop its social search services such as photo sharing and tagging site Flickr, social bookmarking services del.icio.us and MySpace and the question-and-answer search engine Yahoo Answers.

As the company continues its uphill battle against Google, Yahoo executives have said that the emerging field of social search could redefine the search engine market.

Social search sites let users participate in the discovery, categorisation and sharing of indexed websites, tapping the knowledge of millions of people and in theory providing services that deliver more relevant search results and that are easier to personalise.

These sites are seen by some as the next step in search engine services, an evolution from the search engines that rank sites based on algorithms and that create indexes with automated web crawlers. For now, Yahoo is struggling in its attempts to challenge Google in the search engine market.

"There is a lot of thinking going on at Yahoo about all of the social search products, and a lot of energy is being poured into them, so you'll see some refreshing changes and developments," Ramakrishnan said.


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