Tina’s recent articles on Google and search engines has made me think about how much search engines play in our daily online lives and in particular how much we rely on Google to do that searching for us. Google’s share of the search market accounts for as much as 60% , which competitors such as Yahoo and Microsoft probably pretty much consider insurmountable (leading to Microsoft’s ridiculous schemes such as Live Search Cashback, which many people have dismissed as nothing more than bribing people to use Microsoft’s search engine).
So considering the state of affairs with Google’s dominance over search, it’s nice to see some creativity and “out of the box” thinking still going on with regards to search. That is why I am fascinated with Wikia Search and whether it has the potential to go far in the long term. I am a big believer in user generated content on the internet so this project is right up my alley. I highly encourage you to get involved. It’s your chance to get involved in the building of a search engine from the ground up.
Wikia Search is the pet project of Jimmy Wales who also created Wikipedia and he is applying the same philosophy to Wikia Search as he did to Wikipedia. That is, anyone can help to create Wikia Search and anyone can edit it. We’re all in it together and let’s see what comes out at the other end (fingers crossed). Some people might consider that a perfect recipe for anarchy and total chaos but I consider it web democracy in action where anything can happen. Exciting isn’t it?
Basically (in case you haven’t worked it out yet), Wikia Search is a search engine. They use a web serviceto crawl the web and you can apparently download Grub yourself to make it go faster (although this is not required if you don’t want to do this). I am not an expert at this kind of thing so my understanding of the technical side of things is a bit hazy. If anyone who understands this better wants to clarify it in the comments, please feel free.
Anyway, the main part of the project is to go to the main page of Wikia Search and start typing in search terms and see what comes up. Now this is where you start to run into the first start-up problem of Wikia Search – the speed (or the lack thereof). The pages load very slowly. I really hope Wikia Search solves the speed issue very soon as I can see people with slow internet connections giving up really fast.
Once you type in a search term and results come up, you can then start to modify the results if you don’t like what you see. For example, if you type in a domain name and the domain name isn’t one of the results then you can use the “add to this result” box on the right hand side of the page to add the domain to the results.
So to use an example, I have a website called “Camelot Online” and after typing it into Wikia Search, it didn’t come up. So I typed it into the “add to this result” box and clicked “add” :
Just like Wikipedia, your edits are instantly added to the page. and as you can see from the screenshot, a RSS feed is instantly generated. So if someone came along and removed my domain from Wikia Search, I will know right away in my RSS reader. So don’t mess with my stuff!
Just as you can add URL’s to Wikia Search, you can also delete pages that are there if you consider them irrelevant (but bear in mind that pages you consider irrelevant may be considered relevant to others so cue lots of online feuding!). As you search on Wikia, you will find a lot of spam and adult material cropping up so you can delete those pages if they don’t apply to that search term. To delete a page, just mouse over the result and a “delete” link appears. But of course someone else can immediately come along behind you and reinstate the link. Such is the nature of a web democracy!
It remains to be seen how successful Wikia Search becomes and whether it becomes a serious rival to Google. My argument has always been that the Google algorithim is good but only to a point – a computer algorithim cannot detect websites that are a scam or websites that are showing inaccurate facts. Only human users can do that. That’s why I love Stumbleupon so much – because human users vote websites up and down and that in turn influences the search results. If Wikia Search gets its act together, it has the potential to do the same and that could seriously influence Web 3.0 when it comes.