Jason Calacanis’ Mahalo – How To Build A Biased Self Propaganda Machine?

MalhaloI know Jason Calacanis has only just launched Mahalo, but you would have though he would have taken care to ensure that everything was 100% “above board” on the day the site would be under the spotlight.

Ah well… as the saying goes, start as you mean to go on!

1. Keyword Stuff Your Meta Keywords

Real cute 1990s SEO… on your home page

Stuff your meta keywords with terms unrelated to the content of the page

<meta name="keywords" content="Main Page,50 Cent,Air Conditioner,Al Gore,American Idol,Apple,Asthma,Beer,Bill Gates,Britney Spears,Cadillac Escalade" />

The words do often appear on the page, but it is hardly content. If Mahalo is a search engine, it should use keywords link “malhalo, search, search engine”

2. Suspicious Terms and Conditions

This might be something totally legitimate, but it certainly looks suspicious to me.

I ran the Terms and conditions of Mahalo through Copyscape. It seems they were written by the same lawyers as Etsy…

Copyscape Results for Etsy

Etsy Terms of Service

They are even more similar to the terms of service for Odeo

Copyscape Returns for Odeo

Odeo Terms of Service

Those are both New York based startups, so there is a good chance they are using the same legal team.

Mahalo is based in California as I believe Jason has been for some time (he did originate from New York), and though he could be using the same legal team, you would expect him to have someone draw up custom legal paperwork.

Damn That Is Only 2 Negative Points, Surely I can Find More?

Actually no, not really…

I could criticise it for just being just quickly edited scraped results from another search engine, but having spent a few hours digging around on the pages of lots of search results, I know for a fact that the researchers have really been doing some homework to come up with some of the results.

I could criticise it for the SEO, because the site is clearly intended to in the future rank highly in the search engines, but I couldn’t possibly because I make sites for that purpose daily.
I think I might be slightly better on internal site structure than Jason’s guys, after all, it isn’t that smart to stick nofollow on all the links on a page that is effectively your sitemap.

Mahalo Is Better Than Wikipedia (or will be)

  • Mahalo is linking to sites without a Nofollow Tag
  • When you search on Mahalo, you will still have to visit other sites if you are searching for information – Wikipedia takes other people’s ideas and research, rewrites it, and doesn’t even give a search engine followable link.
  • Mahalo currently seems to have impartial editors – seriously I don’t think Jason and his views on a particular subject are taken into consideration at all. As an example you would think the advertorial page would be heavily weighted towards Jason’s point of view. The researcher has actually taken a lot of time and even included one of my pages that doesn’t rank for advertorial in Google.
  • Mahalo has qualified researchers – these documents aren’t being written by students who think it is fun to impersonate university professors. They seem to be using real names, and you can search for them in Google and check their history.

I can see some of the search links being monetized in the future for products with the various engines, but a few I checked currently didn’t seem to be with affiliate links.

Overall – Actually I am impressed

A lot of the concerns website owners have with Wikipedia have been addressed. They are not attempting to write content, just provide relevant links.
It is early days yet, Wikipedia started out relatively harmless too, but I think a lot of the fundamentals are good, I am not worried about Mahalo taking up first position in the SERPS for information gathering.

Oh, but Mahalo will only have No2 for product search, because I definitely intend to have number one slot ahead of Jason.

It is alpha, I started off with a couple of teething problems in this first look, but overall it is looking very solid.

I wonder if Jason is staying with ThisNext, he will be competing against them for search results.

Yep, and here is a link to Mahalo – I don’t mind linking to them occasionally, even without a nofollow, unlike Wikipedia.

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    • says

      Jason’s bitch?

      If you read my overall coverage of all things Jason Calacanis the balance is still negative.

      My review started off critical because that was the mindset I had when I approached this review “going in”.

      I was looking for bias, I was looking for negative factors. It is extremely hard to remain objective with so much water under the bridge.

      I have read people who have created “Made For Adsense” sites criticise this as being purely a “Made For Adsense” site.

      From what I have read, Jason currently has 40 researchers, and they have been working since the start of the year.

      Whilst they might have 4000 pages, none of them are looked on as complete works, very few are claimed to be higher than 60% complete.

      Lets assume 250 working days a year x 40 people = 10000 working days.

      Jason looks to have 10000 pages created this year.

      If the researchers are spending a full working day (in total) on each page, and leveraging suggestions from the public, that is certainly a fair amount more work than your typical MFA invests in each page.

      That isn’t allowing for growth in staffing levels. It is quite possible Jason will increase the staff 2x or 3x this year, as he has the funding to do it.

      It is too early to say whether it is going to be successful, but it is a legitimate attempt to achieve a goal.

    • says

      Hi Glen, yes I had read that.

      It is possible to create all kinds of search mashups and have something similar.

      That link to me on the advertorial however is what threw me, and not because it stroked my ego.

      The page must have been worked on carefully because it was linked from their what is pages.

      If someone created a mashup, there is currently no way that page would currently appear for the search term Advertorial, because it isn’t optimized enough.
      I saw similar situations on other pages.

      This suggests to me that the researchers are monitoring coverage on their chosen or assigned topics, and have been for months, and will continue to do so.
      This isn’t a “set and forget” process. Each researcher is probably assigned 100-200 keywords and they continually improve the results for those pages.

  1. says


    Mahalo for the feedback, and for being the first one to read the terms of service! The TOS was “borrowed” with permission from Twitter. I email Ev and Biz over there and they were cool with us building from their template. We are cool with people building form our template. No reason for us (i.e. every web startup) to start over with stuff like that when we can evolve it together.

    For the record, I don’t like the idea of stealing folks IP so if that ever happens you can assume it was an accident.

    RE: Those meta tags in your first point those were a hangover from the first homepage we build which did have fity cent on it. Our bad, thanks for looking at our code! We will fix.

    re: “it isn’t that smart to stick nofollow on all the links on a page that is effectively your sitemap.”

    That is ANOTHER error on our part… again, MAHALO for pointing it out!

    In terms of editorial control of the site I have NONE. I hire smart folks and I give them the tools to do the best job possible. If I do something really stupid you can be sure they will put it right up on my SERP!

    Of course we don’t put NOFOLLOW on the SERPS… the people on their have EARNED their links by impressing our guides with their excellent sites. Now, the links in the suggested links from users should have NOFOLLOW–until such time as the editors move them over to the main serp.