In a bid to grab a share of the competitive search market and take advantage of the growing reliance of Internet users to search engines, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced plans of building a search engine that will challenge Yahoo! and Google.
“Challenging” might sound too ambitious but with Wikipedia’s popularity, the outcome of this plan might turn into another innovation in the works. Wikia Search, Wikipedia’s commercial counterpart, plans to corner 5% of the lucrative search traffic.
Often citing Wikipedia’s success and labeling Google and Yahoo! as “black boxes” for failing to disclose search algorithms:
“The idea that Google has some edge because they’ve got super-duper rocket scientists may be a little antiquated now,”
I thought Google did some favors when its entries are on top of search results that a joke circulated recently that “I feel lucky” button on Google Search be replaced with “Wikipedia result”. The idea of collaborative search technology is believed to change the power structure of the Internet. That means empowering average Joe even more and enabling him to have a say on the quality of results. Could it be a recipe for abuse? Possibly yes. In fact, with abuses popping out of headlines on a routine basis, Wikipedia already started to police its ranks more strictly, requiring some writers to disclose their identities.
So instead of hiring geniuses worldwide and pampering them over at Googleplex, the plan is to tap programmers and users around the world, attempting to apply open source coding in search engine technology. The plan also says that Wikia users can also fix search results if they provide less useful information.
Founded in 2004, Wikia hosts group publishing sites on wide ranging topics. While it offers its tools for free to users, sites that are built using its resources are required to be linked to Wikia, which makes its money mainly through advertising. With new plans bared by Wales, funding has been flowing from Amazon and “Angel investors”.
One point of confusion could arise when Wikia, whose name does not indicate it as a search tool, might be construed as WikiSeek, Wikipedia’s search engine. I’d prefer the new search engine be named WikiSeek but I guess that won’t pan out.
If open source search engine plans of Wikia Search pushes through, what impact could it bring to search engine optimization industry, now that search results can be “corrected” by humans and does not rely solely on machines algorithms?