PogoFrog vs. the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

(Please note that this post contains no links to PogoFrog’s domain. If you really want to find it, you can Google for it and find it very quickly, but I don’t want to give it any Google juice by linking to it.)

PogoFrog is a Google Custom Search Engine, like the Medical Library Search Engine and the Consumer Health and Patient Education Information Search Engine.

Here’s how PogoFrog describes itself:

“PogoFrog.com jumps over the layman-focused clutter on the internet to find only credible medical information for physicians.”

So…PogoFrog’s schtick is that it skips over all that pesky consumer-oriented health information and zeroes in on information intended for medical professionals, right? But if one tries searching for “Ulcerative Colitis,” one finds that nine of the ten results on the first page are from consumer-oriented sites like MedlinePlus and Mayoclinic.com.

But if you REALLY want to use Google to look for physician-oriented resources, you’ll actually get more satisfying hits in the first ten listed results if you search for “ulcerative colitis” in regular Google. You can even select “For Health Professionals” at the top of those results to refine the search to sites tagged as oriented towards medical professionals by the participants of the Google Health Co-op.

The Google Health Co-Op has its problems, too- but it’s loads better than PogoFrog.

Not “Monetizing Social Search”
Dean Giustini describes PogoFrog as an attempt to “monetize social search.”

I disagree mostly because PogoFrog isn’t social. If it was one of those CSEs that allowed users to volunteer and collaborate, it would be social. It doesn’t…therefore isn’t.

Dean writes:

“PogoFrog also appears to want physician input, essentially another kind of social search.”

Asking for input or feedback from users does not make a service social. Lots of businesses invite users to suggest improvementsExamples would include KFC, Burger King, WalMart and LibWorm, but that doesn’t make their services social.

Dean also writes:

PogoFrog searches across American .gov and .edu sites in medicine but notice that there are Sponsored links to the right of every search page.

If you have a problem with these advertisements, you shouldn’t be using regular Google either- they’re the exact same sort of contextual advertisements you see along the side of the page when you perform a regular Google search.

The only other monetization I can find on PogoFrog (which benefits PogoFrog instead of Google) is on this page, well away from search results, where links to “sponsors” of PogoFrog are listed.

I wouldn’t have any problem with this kind of monetization either…if PogoFrog was a useful tool. The TRIP database has advertising and I don’t think it detracts from the usefulness of the site (which, by the way, is a bajillion times more usefulroughly estimated to a medical professional than PogoFrog). The advertisements aren’t disguised as content and can be ignored if not of interest to the user.

So the real problem with PogoFrog is that it is a lousy tool with many superior alternatives.

5 thoughts on “PogoFrog vs. the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

  1. I don’t really understand why the “monetization” of searching is problematic. Librarians and the public benefit greatly from organizations who generate revenue by creating powerful/user friendly search interfaces. OVID’s MEDLINE is the best example I can think of…repackaging information I could get for “free” from PubMed and makes it infinitely more searchable. Google is another example, because I’d be fairly certain they aren’t in the “social search” business for our greater good.

  2. Y’know…I need more interesting and inventive ways of expressing agreement with commenters.

    I mean, to say: “Jeff, I absolutely agree” is so dang boring that it is barely worth writing- but I still want to let Jeff know that I read his comment and think he’s right on.

    So:

    Jeff, I absolutely agree.

    …so shamefully boring…

  3. Hi David,

    The question I’d like to pose is: what is social? I see it in the broader sense of digital interaction and socializing. In the context of software development, sure, there is no reason to call all interactions either collaborative or social. However, PogoFrog’s intent is social. That’s what I’m getting at – as far as I can recall since my post about PogoFrog was in September 2007.

    What’s your thought about the vortalization of medical search? Does it have a future? Dean

  4. Hey Dean-

    Let’s try turning the question around.

    What is it about PogoFrog, in your thinking, that makes you want to label it “social”? What is the intention you see and what makes that intention social?

    Of course health information vortals have a future. There are questions about who’ll make them, how good they’ll be, and how health information professionals will regard them- but there’s no question they have a future.

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