The Jimmy Wales Strategy: Just Add Wiki (This Time To Search Engines)
from the one-way-to-do-things dept
It seems that the talk of the tech world over the weekend came from a Times Online article about how Wikipedia founder was preparing a wiki-based search engine, called Wikiasari. The project aims to create a better search engine, using open source search engine projects Nutch and Lucene, which have been around for a while, but not much has been done with either. The Times Online piece speculated about Amazon’s involvement in the project, which would have been interesting given their flopped attempt at a search engine in A9. However, Wales later denied that Amazon had anything to do with the project. Update: Folks from Wikimedia have chimed in to clarify that this project is actually not called Wikiasari and to make it clear that this is a Wikia project, not a Wikimedia project.
Either way, it’s got plenty of people thinking about whether or not this kind of “user-generated” search engine has a chance to reshape the space. It’s an intriguing idea for a variety of reasons — but one that has some tremendous hurdles. One of the problems in the search engine space (mainly Google) world these days is that of search engine spam. While there certainly are some legitimate “search engine optimization” attempts out there, there are an awful lot of questionable sites who play all sorts of tricks to get listed higher, knowing that the almighty Google drives traffic and traffic is the key to making money online. At a first pass, you would then think that a wiki-based solution would be a problem — since it makes it even easier to spam (or vandalize, as the Wikipedians would say). However, there is one major difference: each of the changes is recorded and can be watched. In other words, each of the attempts to spam such a system would be a lot more transparent and noticeable and correctable. Now, of course, as with Wikipedia, some of the mistakes will get through, and that may cause many to automatically assume (incorrectly) that the whole concept is busted. Still, there’s a big difference between having a system that can create user-generated results and one that actually can do it better than Google or Yahoo. Getting that far is a really big challenge. It also may be worth noting that perhaps comparing this to Google is the wrong way to go about things. It may be more accurate to see it as a much, much, much more advanced version of the old Open Directory Project — which is why it’s interesting to hear that Jimmy Wales is also interested in getting his hands on what’s left of the AOL-neglected Open Directory Project.