Wikia Details Plans for Search Rival to Google

The ever expanding, and potentially lucrative, market of search engines may soon be welcoming another player into the fray. Last Friday, at OSCON in Portland, Oregon, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that his commercial startup, Wikia, had just acquired the distributed-computing web crawler Grub from LookSmart Ltd, and that he is currently putting the building blocks in place to create a community-developed search engine rivaling those of Yahoo and Google. The new search engine, thus far unnamed, will reportedly combine computer-driven algorithms with human-assisted editing, allowing for better results; for example, in the case of the word "palm," humans would be able to distinguish whether or not the word referred to the tree, the handheld computer, or the human body part, much better than any current algorithm. After indexing sites with Grub, search results from the new engine would be generated by the open source project Lucerne.

"If we can get good quality search results, I think it will really change the balance of power from the search companies back to the publishers," said Wales. "I could be wrong about this, but it seems like a likely outcome." The search engine plays part in a broader push by Wikia to promote the spread of free content publishing on the web. Wales hopes to create an entirely open search engine, making explicit the editorial judgments involved in all modern search engines, whereas companies like Google hide key aspects of how their search engines work to prevent abuse. Though the engine is still in pre-conception, Wales certainly has high hopes for his new project.

View: Full Story on Reuters
View: Wikia Search Labs

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One thing that could help them beat Google is to have uh, less commercial searches (for lack of a better description). Anyone who has tried searching for say, a computer monitor by name and model will get about 3 pages worth of online stores before you get even the manufacturer's website. Add the word "review" to the search query and it's 3 pages of links to the same online stores and their "reviews" (usually oneliners like "I got this monitor, it's great, it's the only monitor I've ever tried.").

It used to be that all those crap and useless searches were found on other search engines and that's why Google was good. Now we could use a search engine that lets us filter that stuff out easily, letting us choose if were looking for the best price or just some info.

RhythmFlirt said,
Why don't people understand that it's very tough to get rid of Google are wrong...its tough to get rid of google...but it isnt impossible.

Remember Yahoo & yahoo chats once?....same may happen if some good sites & innovative search engines pops up.

Yeah, what shifted the search engine business in Google's favor was superior search algorithms and uncluttered fast loading pages. The thing is that I have still not seen a competitor that was better and still failed, so I still haven't seen signs that it's tough to outdo Google.

Google has also not improved their core algorithms much lately either, so I wonder if they're just holding back something or they simply don't think it needs improvement. Maybe it's a problem with lack of good competition so they don't get motivated. And no, things like Microsoft Live! Search! is not really good competition in my opinion. It has good features around the engine, but not a good engine.

I'm hoping to see new leaps in search engine technologies, because Google's is deteriorating with more and more crap sites that abuse their algorithms and annoying uninformative blogs. :-/ Thinking about it, when PageRank was innovated, I don't think blogs were at all on this scale so maybe they didn't take the massive crosslinking that goes on there into account.

Jugalator said,
Maybe it's a problem with lack of good competition so they don't get motivated. on there into account.

That and being they've been on top for so long they probably feel there can be no competition to them. Look at IE as an example or Windows for that matter. The [quite possible] problem is that these companies don't see beyond their nose and end up getting over taken by someone else. Yes, it hasn't happened yet, but it will. It always does.

Surely though people will try and exploit that(much like wikipedia is sometimes used) to promote their own sites, how they going to combat that?

I am fully agree, "regular" search engines, social bookmarking other link list, either commercial sites are at the top, the commended contains only senseless infos, or I found some P*** site. And all of this mistakes decrease with the popularity of the search engine/bookmark site.

Interesting.... I like the way that a lot of things are moving towards an open platform, this is a great idea, it would be interesting to see how well they pull it off, if at all though.