Wikia social search engine set for launch

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 7:59 PM | 0 comments »


Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales

A new collaborative approach to the field of search and potential rival to Google will be launched next week by the founder of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says the goal of Wikia Search is to let volunteers improve search technology collectively, the way Wikipedia lets anyone add or change entries, regardless of expertise.

"That reduces the sort of bottleneck of two or three firms really controlling the flow of search traffic," said Wales, chairman of Wikia Inc., the for-profit venture behind the search project.

Wikia Search will be opened to the general public on January 7 after weeks of invitation-only testing.

Wales has said that current search engines - such as Yahoo and Google - are opaque services that don't explain how results are arrived at, IDG News reported.

AAP reports: Wales said taking the site won't dethrone Google Inc. or another major search engine - at least not soon.

Engineers at Google and other search companies continually tweak their complex software algorithms to improve results and fight spammers - those who try to artificially boost the rankings of their own sites. Search companies have not disclosed many details to avoid tipping off competitors and spammers.

Wales' approach would open that process. Initially, participants will help make such decisions as whether a site on "Paris Hilton" refers to the celebrity or a French hotel.

Wikia Search has assembled the basic technologies for a search engine, including a search application, search algorithm and Web crawler, according to IDG News.

The Search Wikia Labs website states that the future of internet search must be based upon transparency, community, quality and privacy.

Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the industry Web site Search Engine Land, has his doubts. Finding all the web ites to index and staying ahead of spammers are huge undertakings, Sullivan said.

"I think he doesn't really understand the scale of what Google has to handle in terms of the queries from around the world and the amount of traffic that flows to it and the attempts that are made to try to manipulate it," Sullivan said.

Wales said the project would launch with about 50 million to 100 million Web pages indexed, a fraction of the billions available with major search engines.

Even as Wales tries to challenge search, Google has announced a project that could challenge Wikipedia. Google's version, called knol, will differ from Wikipedia by identifying who wrote each article and giving authors a chance to share in Google's advertising revenue.

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