The Times Online is reporting the recent Wikia and Amazon partnership will result in a new search engine:
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, is set to launch an internet search engine with amazon.com that he hopes will become a rival to Google and Yahoo!
Mr Wales has begun working on a search engine that exploits the same user-based technology as his open-access encyclopaedia, which was launched in 2003.
The project has been dubbed Wikiasari â€” a combination of wiki, the Hawaiian word for quick, and asari, which is Japanese for â€œrummaging searchâ€.
Mr Wales told The Times that he was planning to develop a commercial version of the search engine through Wikia Inc, his for-profit company, with a provisional launch date in the first quarter of next year.
â€œGoogle 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 â€˜Tampa hotelsâ€™, for example, and you will not get any useful results,â€ he said.
Spammers and commercial ventures are also learning how to manipulate Googleâ€™s computer-based search, he added.
Some initial thoughts:
- I’ve run into the same situation Wales describes in terms of “hotel” searches bringing up tons of agents and folks who have gamed the search engine algorithm for their top spots. They are not necessarily useless, but they very often have a low signal/noise ratio. But it’s not clear what should come up at the top instead. Spammers will certainly try to game the “human oriented” process Wikia puts into place, just like Wikipedia is facing a big spam problem. Will Wikia have the staff/community to combat this?
- Related to this, how will Wikia get a dedicated community to create better search results? Will a grassroots community help Wikia, a for profit company, further its mission and revenue generating activity? People are willing to contribute to Wikipedia because it is a nonprofit project, spreading knowledge and free (as in freedom) content. If you try to build the same around a for-profit activity, the dynamics are drastically different.
- It seems like rather than start from scratch with another search engine, a hybrid approach of using Google’s algorithmic search, plus the external links from Wikipedia, Wikitravel, etc. could be enough to “massage” the results to become more useful. The problem with depending purely on human-oriented processes for recommending links for a search engine result, is that humans might be good for the long-term horizon, but spidering the Internet gets the fastest changing information.
- The name is rather unwieldy. Wikiasari sounds like a plural of Wikisaurus, part of the nonprofit Wiktionary project. I predict lots of Wikisauri, Wikisari and Wikiasauri typos.