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Wikia Brings Own Brand of Open, Social Search

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-01-07 Print this article Print

With Wikia Search, co-founder Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia sets his sights on the search giants.

As expected, Wikia Jan. 7 is launching Wikia Search, a socially driven, open-source alternative to top-line search engines from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Wikia Search, forged from the floundering Grub distributed search project Wikia bought from LookSmart July 27, lets users filter sites and rank search results, and lets them see how the search results were arrived at.

Wikia co-founder Jimmy Wales told eWEEK that Wikia Search will let people sign up and enter a profile like any social network. Users then list their interests, which essentially serve as keywords for the search engine, and can link to friends and invite other people interested in the same topics.

There is also a mini-article feature that, similar to the collective intelligence method of Wales' Wikipedia zeitgeist, lets users come in and edit the top section of the search results page.

For example, entering a query for the White Stripes rock band will yield results like any other result return, albeit with social input at the top and a list of people on the right interested in the band that a user can contact.

Wikia Search is starting small, with between 50 million and 100 million pages indexed. Wales is banking on the fact that users will then be able to rank the relevance of the algorithmic search results returned from Wikia Search on a scale of one to five. That data can be fed back into the search algorithm as a part of the review process.

This notion is largely anathema for major search vendors Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which guard the secret sauce of their search algorithms.

"We're anticipating there will be a lot of interesting creativity around what the community decides to do with that from things like disambiguation [the Wikipedia process of resolving conflicts in article titles that occur when a single term can be associated with more than one topic] to little mini-articles defining terms to best links," Wales said.

Read the full article at eWeek.

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