Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, is ready to release a new search engine for the Internet; properly named “Wikia Search” , Wales plans his new search engine to one day be a contender to Google and Yahoo. However, the real news lies in the fact that Jimmy’s strategy has changed over the last year, and in a not so user-friendly way.
Wikia Search, formerly named Wikiasari, is an open-source search engine run through Wikia Inc., a for-profit corporation that Wales seeks to allow programmers, over the Internet, to help in the development and testing of this new search engine.
In a statement that some may consider a direct statement to Google, Wales said, “The essential core principles are that I think search is now a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the Internet and it’s really fundamental to society as a whole and therefore as citizens of the world we should be concerned about it being a secretive black box.”
Jimmy’s “black box” statement most likely refers to Google’s secret algorithm, which has been kept secret for a very good reason; Wales is planning to publish his web crawler’s algorithm, but doesn’t seem to realize that too many will abuse this “open source information” to manipulate the results of Wikia Search. Wales does, however, acknowledge it by saying, ”If published algorithms make it too easy for spammers to game the system then we’ve got a real problem and my whole idea won’t work.”
Well, Google works, and they have certainly been on their game in Web searching. Take a tip from Google, Wales; don’t publish your algorithm.
The most troubling news here is the sudden change of Wikia Search. When this project was first announced as Wikiasari, last year, Wales himself said that “Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgments, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way.”
Wikiasari was going to be the people’s search engine. It was to be powered by you and I, determining which pages are good, and which are bad. This ‘voting’ solution proved to be successful, as similar methods like this are used on popular sites like Digg; however, this is no more, it’s all out the window now, and is being replaced by a computer.
“We’ll give away all the technology, all the data. Release everything under a free license because in my view the idea has been very solidly proven wrong by Wikipedia that in order to out-compete on the Internet you need to have a walled garden of special content no one else has. Wikipedia gives everything away. You can download the database and put up a clone of Wikipedia tomorrow. All that means is that more people find out about the brand, more people drive traffic back,” Jimmy said.
Now, Mr. Wales is relying solely on the people to create a “black list” of websites that would not be listed in his new Wikia Search. Web sites, especially spam sites, come and go by the day; it would take a wealth of consistent effort from a tired community to keep a black list on all the ‘bad’ sites.
Wales’ project is still in the developmental stage, and we should expect a test version by the end of the year with a really big warning ‘It sucks, we know it sucks.’