Wanted: Search Engine Fuel. Must Tag a Lot.

After a nine-month beta period, iLOR gave official birth to its Prefound.com community-oriented search engine today.

The site lets people find, tag, and share information including multimedia such as video, MP3, and podcasts with each other. Prefound.com is designed to deliver targeted, relevant results for any search based on what others have already found on any topic.

“We saw an opportunity in the community search and index space to offer something that’s easy for anyone to use,” Steve Mansfield, co-founder and director of Lexington, KY-based ILOR, told internetnews.com. “Today there are a lot of good indexed sites but they are fairly vertical in areas like technical news, and not that accessible to the everyday user.”

Prefound.com has a standard search bar at the top of its page that anyone can use to get tagged relevant results to the search request. Beta testers and the company’s own development staff have been populating the index since April, but Mansfield says it can only get better with more traffic which started with Tuesday’s public launch.

Prefound.com considers one of its strengths that it won’t give you the thousands of results that a big search engine site often does, but the results you do get are pre-selected or “pre-found” by other users and are therefore, theoretically a better match. Each group of links in the result returned has been gathered by an individual user or groups of users during previous Web-wide searches. Those targeted results are then arranged by popularity within the PreFound.com community. The results are also checked for accuracy by iLOR staff.

“Community search will never replace traditional search like Google or Yahoo,” said Mansfield. “If someone’s looking for the closest pizza place, use one of those, but there are tons of things that community search is better at, that’s why we encourage people to visit us first.”

Search results are grouped so, for example, video and audio files links can be accessed quickly. The optional registration to Prefound.com is free and adds the company’s patented PFfinder tool. When users mouse over a link, regardless of where they are on the Web, a small box appears to keep track of links the user selects. Searchers can keep the information, share it with friends or upload it to the rest of the PreFound community at PreFound.com. The default setting is not to share, so the user has to take action to share, which is done anonymously, with others.

Mansfield said the plan is to make the site’s results available for free and without registration. It also encourages people to register and help build the index of results. Perhaps the sentiment is best stated at Prefound.com’s blog, where the slogan is: “We’re the search engine, You’re the fuel.”

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