start.com – what I like, and what I want


In reply to my “Start.com rocks” post, Dragos asked me the other day:


>>> what is it that rocks if we compare it to google/ig for example? Or if we compare it to a web-based rss reader for that instance, since it plays a strong substitution role?


1) It’s extremely minimalistic view (yes, by default it brings all these additional views but I usually click the “hide” link, and I get a very clean search portal. That’s what I like most about it. Yes, I know that google.com has this for a long time, but now start.com is even thinner :-)
2) google.com/ig (or other similar portals like my.msn.com or my.yahoo.com) require a login. For simplicity, I want to skip that part. I just want a quick search portal that is easy to use from any machine (and I am using a lot of machines at work or at home). For me it’s important to bring the portal quick: type “start” and press Ctrl-Enter.
3) The new stickiness model, where you can “save” the search results and start a new query on the same page. (Bug: this doesn’t seem to always work – in some cases I get “no results”?)


>>> I liked it very much in the very beginning when they were still in beta, I still love their concept, but still it is far away from what (I think) it should be. Hint: try to import an opml file. Even Neogen’s (http://new.neogen.ro/)works better (no, I am not affiliated with it whatsoever).


I don’t use the RSS reader part. But indeed, the OPML import doesn’t seem to work. (I hope the start.com team is listening.) And while we are here – a wish list item for the start.com guys: can you please add a “cached link” to the search results? And a longer text snippet in the search results (not just one line, but two lines, like search.msn.com). And – the ability to search images. And integration with virtual earth. And… no, I don’t want a little pony :-)


I personally agree that it has lots of future potential but it’s a beta of the very first version after all. We’ll see how it works…

Comments (3)

  1. Start.com shows a complete lack of understanding of what people use an RSS aggregator for. It is not useful for anything at all as it currently stands. The thing that completely boggles my mind is that msn.com does exactly what start.com should be doing, just for RSS feeds instead of news selected by MSN.

    When I subscribe to RSS feeds it is for the content. I do not care where the content came from other than as an aside. To that end start.com should present the newest articles from all of my RSS feeds in a single newspaper style view with the headlines in bold, the content below, and a small note that is a link to the source. The headline should be hot of course to go to the full article. The list should be in date order descending and have nothing to do with the feed that it came from (unless for some inexplicable reason the user wants to set it to sort by feed)

    Go take a look at Onfolio.com and download it. It is one of a very few that actually get it right and allow you to put it in date order instead of feed order. (it should be the default, but hey…) Even bloglines.com doesn’t get this right and forces you to read all of the content in the feed.

    Consider how people read news papers and how people watch cable news channels. It’s the top stories of the day, and then they might have occasionally a themed section based on “entertainment” or what have you, but most of them simply group by importance, which is almost always based on how old the story is. The newer, the more coverage and the more prominent the coverage is too. This is the concept that start.com needs to learn. This is also the concept that the IE 7 team needs to learn with their RSS functionality, which right now is completely and utterly pointless. I could just go to the site’s home page for what they have done with the RSS functionality. (ditto with Firefox which does exactly the same thing…)

    Until then start.com’s only use is as a prototype of AJAX and nothing more. It doesn’t do anything well and is an absolutely horrible feed aggregator.

  2. Ben Askins says:

    I’ve posted a comparison of start.com and google.com/ig on my blog.

    http://teamaskins.net/pivot/entry.php?id=101

  3. Razvan says:

    Acum…romaneste vorbind despre lucruri romanesti mi se pare culmea nesimtirii sa spui ca o copie de 2 bani ca ceea a neogenului sa o compari cu originalul.

    Si apropo…nu am folosit niciodata optiunea homepage in browsere dar acum start.com ii default 😉