Yahoo! Mindset Search is an interesting and powerful search engine for research and, strangely enough, shopping. I did a Mindset search on my name: David W. Boles. It takes a little while for the full returns to load because Mindset interactively parses each website for relevance.

Once the returns begin to load, the default search returns are fair and ordinary.  Now, if you drag the slider all the way over to the end of the — Researching — scale you can see how Mindset re-purposes the needs of your search to allegedly give each return a more scholarly result.

The first non-sponsored Research return for my name brings you right to this site: Urban Semiotic! That is an appropriate and on-point result. Then things get more interesting when you look at the second return listed in that extreme Research query: BobPage.Net. Bob is a Yahoo! employee who found an Urban Semiotic comment I made concerning Yahoo! Sponsored Search vs. Google Adwords and Bob linked back to my blog entry.

It’s curious to see how the second instance of my name in the fullest Research query on Yahoo! Mindset Search brings you to a Yahoo! employee website. Then, for even more fun, drag the slider all the way over to — Shopping — for my name and you will see how Mindset makes quantitative search decisions based on marketing trends.

For some reason my name brings up a Hebrew writing site as the first result for the non-sponsored shopping search. The second entry takes you to a Yahoo! site where my paid Yahoo! Sponsored Search advertisement appears.

Do you see an uneasy Yahoo! Mindset search trend developing where the second entry using the most extreme restrictions for — Researching — and — Shopping — returns sites related to Yahoo!? I suppose we can forgive this easy coincidence since Yahoo! Mindset is still in the beta stage. Let’s hope that issue gets fixed by the time you read this.

If, however, the trend to favor Yahoo! websites reaches the marketplace in the public release there will serious questions about unfair skewing of results favoring Yahoo! vested interest sites instead of returning the most relevant sites. I cannot imagine a scenario where a Yahoo!-specific site would even appear in the top 10 results in an end-of-scale Research query.

I understand Yahoo! created the search site to make money but the profit making sites should be clearly separated and identified from the interactive search returns and those for-profit sites should never appear in an extreme Research query because those results must be impartial and disinterested if they are to be considered scholarly enough to be used in Research. Plug your own name into Yahoo! Mindset search and see what kind of results you get.

Pay attention to the second result in your end-of-scale searches. Is it Yahoo!-related in some way? You may need to click on the link to find out. Don’t forget to enclose your entire name in quotation marks so Yahoo! Mindset Search can hone in on the one and only you.

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