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wynaut

Wikiasari - Open Search Engine

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Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, plans to launch a search engine code-named Wikiasari in the first quarter of 2007. Following the model of Wikipedia, the new search engine will have user-editable search results.

"Google is very good at many types of search, but in many instances it produces nothing but spam and useless crap. Try searching for the term [Tampa hotels], for example, and you will not get any useful results," said Jimmy Wales. Well, maybe the example is not very good, because I see mostly useful results.

Mr. Wales did the impossible by creating an excellent resource of information with the support of a community. Now he wants to repeat the success, but this time the project will be supported by advertising.

"Essentially, if you consider one of the basic tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision: 'this page is good, this page sucks'. Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgments, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way. But we have a really great method for doing that ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that," added Wikipedia's founder.

I think the main job of a search engine is to understand how relevant a page is for a particular query. To scale, a search engine should that algorithmically. While people have a better ability to decide if a page is relevant, that doesn't mean spammers won't try to push their sites.

But the main reason for creating a search engine is that he thinks search is broken "for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack accountability, lack of transparency." Google, for example, won't become open source because it uses proprietary algorithms, other search engines could copy its code and people could tweak their sites to abuse it.

It will be interesting to see if a search engine based only on human intelligence really works.

If it is really launched, I wonder if there will be battles between companies fighting for the top search results for products and services.

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I don't see it working to well in the long run. It will be fine at the beginning with a small community of trustworthy people but as it's popularity grows, vandalism will become rife. Spammers will push their sites as Jimbo says and malicious people will push down sites. It's not like Wikipedia where you are dealing with facts. A site's relevance is a subjective thing.

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Well, they have managed to controll vandalism fairly effectively with wikipedia. So, who knows, this may work out well. When wikipedia was launched most thought that it was impossible to have a community powered encyclopedia.

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