Wikia spearheads ‘people-powered’ search

4 Jun 2008

When is a search engine result relevant? When you tell it that it is, says Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who yesterday added some killer features to his open source search engine Wikia Search.

The first version of the human-ranked Wikia Search was launched on 7 January this year but came as a disappointment to many with its lack of options: users could rank results up or down but did not seem to be able to do much else apart from add and edit articles that sat on the top of the results page.

However, the newly unveiled Wikia Search promises to impress because users now can edit search results to reflect what they deem to be a more accurate description or add notes to clarify.

The user can now also earmark results they find most relevant or even delete entries but this will all be tracked via ‘recent changes’ and watched by a community of moderators to prevent false results or tampering with the system.

Essentially, Wikia Search users will have the same abilities as Wikipedia users.

While this is an interesting approach to search, Wales does not expect a mass migration from Google over night, saying in January that the service was not going to be a “Google-quality experience” on launch.

In an interview with Forbes, Wales said that since its public launch in January Wiki Search has gained 25,000 mini articles with 60,000 edits in total, and the registered users number roughly 20,000.

It will be interesting to see how Wikia Search pans out because as a venture from non-profit organisation Wikipedia, it stands in contrast to search engine giant Google which relies on advertising for much of its revenue.

By Marie Boran