We’ve been hard on Mahalo, as we were unimpressed by the idea and the initial execution. However, over time the site has become a useful resource, which is far more than you can say for the vast majority of Web 2.0 startups in the past 18 months. Mahalo is now a vast resources, with tens of thousands of pages on popular topics and a number of well-written “how to” guides. The model may not be innovative, but at first it seemed to be working– the site took off like a rocket from launch, quickly ramping up to become a top 1,000 site on Alexa.
However, since February of this year, the site appears to have been declining or staying flat. What is the cause of this? It may be that Mahalo’s search results in Google are declining. It may be that they’ve simply run out of enough new articles to create that spur interest in searchers. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Mahalo’s top-down model creates very little incentive for users to contribute or interact on the site. This limits the power of the site to drive passionate users and build a community that promotes itself around the web.
Can Mahalo reverse the trend? Absolutely. The site has a ton of traffic, is actually useful, and has the potential to build a real community that can bring the site to new heights. The trick will be to figure out how to create a mutally beneficial relationship between the site’s users and its contributors. The site should focus on ways to create valuable content from its community at a rate that vastly exceeds the current pace.