Wikia Search Invites Users to Stir the Pot

Wikia Search — the open source search engine Wikia initially launched in January — got a fresh start Tuesday. The refurbished version lets users edit, comment on and influence search results.

After performing a search query on any major search engine, a user typically gets a static results page — the information it contains is determined largely by an algorithm. Wikia Search claims to add a human element to the process by allowing the customization of search results. Users can delete or hide results, rank items and add new results.

Based on their relevance to the query, Wikia Search users will be able to rate certain search results via a star-based system, which will gradually alter the order of listings on the page.

New and Improved

“For the first time, we are allowing the true concept of the wiki to be utilized,” Jimmy Wales, cofounder of Wikia Search, told LinuxInsider.

The new Wikia Search page also offers one-click links to search results on Google, Yahoo and other major search engines, allowing users to compare the open source search engine to its proprietary competitors.

Since the January launch of the search engine, approximately 20,000 members have signed up and created profiles, and nearly 66,000 edits have been made to Wikia articles, Wales said.

Although Wikia Search has not generated a significant amount of traffic, Wales expects it to increase following the unveiling of the new site.

“Because the quality of our search engine has drastically improved, I expect the number of users to increase,” he said. “[Wikia Search is] still not as good as I’d like it to be, but we’re definitely heading in right direction.”

Search Engines of the Future

The main goal of pursuing an open source model for creating Wikia Search has been to pave the way for other organizations to develop their own high-quality search engines, noted Wales. “We are hoping to see midsize organizations such as The New York Times be able to build Google-quality search engines without spending millions of dollars.”

Searching is important to the Internet community, and how a search is executed should not have to be controlled by search engines such as Google, remarked Wales.

Google Killer?

Despite suggestions that Wikia Search could be a “Google killer,” the search giant seems nonplussed. In fact, Google says it welcomes any competition that benefits users.

Calling Wikia Search “competition” may be a stretch at this point, however.

“Since January, there has not been enough traffic to Wikia Search to report any growth or trends,” Matt Tatham, director of media relations for Hitwise, told LinuxInsider. “However, since the site has opened up for editing, perhaps that will trigger some growth.”

The Wikia Search project is built using an open source protocol, and all content is available under an open license.

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