Human Guides, then Google results: I like this concept a lot. It's similar to 'The Mining Company' concept I liked in the pre- and bubble era, before it was converted to About.com and virtually destroyed.
In a welcome departure from the external paid guide model, Mahalo is apparently planning on actually employing their guides directly. Sweet, or at least a change that may lead to a more effective model.
Another Mahalo feature that will likely cause some trouble is user-submitted links <wince>:
Also in the right sidebar is a place for users who’ve registered with the site to submit links relevant to the query. The more users who’ve submitted a unique link, the higher it appears on the list. Mahalo will be looking for fraud in this area - if a guide determines a link to be spammy, they will ban the link, the user and the user’s IP address “forever.” However, if a link gets enough votes and is determined to be relevant by the guides, it will move over into the main search results area.
This will never rival Google, but it just may be a productive tool for the non-tech masses.
Anyone going to give this a ride?