A New Search Engine for Wiki Users Has Launched: Wikia Search

(AXcess News) Reno – Jimmy Wales’ new Wikia Search launched today in beta, offering a new resource for the thousands of dedicated Wiki users, though after crawling around the ‘alpha’ Wikia Search site, I found it to live up to the term ‘beta’ in that the search capability is quite limited.

Ok, so here’s my browse experience on Wikia Search, I first looked up “breaking news” and found a star-rating below all the links shown, while I personally was disappointed in the pages displayed, having no rationale to their order. I was curious and followed one of these ‘star ratings’ back to find Nutch.org.

This is where Wiki search got its order of links under that search term. Lots of CNN stories, so I tried looking up axcessnews.com – nada, squat, one link to a story. So how is that? In reading about Nutch in its FAQ pages I found information about stopping it from crawling a site, but no where was there information about getting it to crawl a site. Where I’m going is its complex trails that peter off to everywhere but a straight answer. That appears to be its common theme, one that Wikia master Jimmy Wales is known for – web obscurity.

Now don’t take my comments negatively, it’s not meant that way, only in that I found Wikia Search to be proficiently poor in displaying related links – except those most popular with its cult followers who have some sort of personal control that exempts everyone else from an equal footing – open source aside.

On Wikia Search’s About Us page, they openly admit from the get go that “We are aware that the quality of the search results is low.” And to their defense, that quote is in bold text too.

I did note an open request for what Wikia Search calls “miniarticles”. In searching on Wikia Search I noted there was a link at the top of every page requesting users to post a ‘miniarticle’ relating to that search term. The only problem is the army of Wiki users who’ll cut, object and change what ever you post – unless they’re the one’s doing the posting. This to me takes away from the ‘open source’ objectivity Wales pines for online and puts it into the hands a few bathrobe-wearing 30 somethings still living in the basements at their parents house. Those objective “I’m Right” happy wiki surfers who have nothing better to do with their lives than to opine on everyone else. (This is where I duck behind my keyboard)

While I am in the “anti-Google” camp, I have to quote Wales here where he said the Wikia Search project was in the early stages of building a “Google-quality search engine” – and God bless him for that. Google needs to be taken down a notch or two and I for one would donate a slurpy (jumbo) to the cause if Wales can succeed.

Wales was able to raise $10 million bucks from Amazon in its for-profit effort to develop an open source search alternative. That is most likely going to be a good bet from an advertiser standpoint for Amazon. Wales in his wisdom says Google, Yahoo and MSN have become the ‘gatekeepers’ of the world’s information online and I believe he is more than right, he’s at the crux of what’s developing into control and privacy issues worldwide. Thank Gawd the European Commission isn’t laying down as easily as the FCC to the search giants’ quest for control and information.

“I think it is unhealthy for the citizens of the world that so much of our information is controlled by such a small number of players, behind closed doors, ” Wales said. “We really have no ability to understand and influence that process.”

My hat’s off to Jimmy boy for byting down hard and pressing the right key – control behind closed doors.

While Google, Yahoo and MSN hold their search engine underwear close to their vests, Wales is making the search engine programming code “open source” – so anyone can use it to set up their own engine. What a great idea! But the trick is making it profitable for Wikia Search, considering its heading towards an advertising model. Hey, don’t forget there was ten million greenbacks on the table from one source to see this developed. And if you think about it, it was a great idea for Amazon to invest in if it wants to break the bank of reliance on search traffic via advertising. You see, he who owns the highway charges the toll and if you have the only road, its users can become weary of its cost – sans an open source search development is a good idea.

AXcess News is a big supporter of open source development and our own backroom geek squad has done wonders in building very usable tools that otherwise were difficult and expensive to license. In fact, thanks to the open source development community we’ve actually been able to create a publishing business that’s worked for us – despite the attempts by the newswires to cut off our access to traffic via Google News, MSNBC and other, smaller directory-like news resources. We’ve already faced the search engines and don’t like the control anymore than Jimmy Wales. Hey, maybe here’s where I can persuade our editor to cough up and put some jack into Wales’ company behind Amazon. Do they accept PayPal you think?

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