Wikia Search introduces user-generated search

Wikia Search, an open-source search engine, introduced a number of new features yesterday that allow any user to delete, add, highlight, annotate, rate and/or change the order of its natural search listings.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, publicly launched the alpha version of Wikia Search in January. At that time, only those who signed up and got an account could make changes to search results. Since then, about 20,000 people have registered on the site. Those people in turn have made about 60,000 edits to search results and written about 25,000 mini articles, Wales said when reached by phone yesterday.

Wikia Search is based on the following four organizing principles: transparency, community, quality and privacy. “Everything that we do is open source software,” Wales said. “That’s important because it kind of strikes at the heart of what we’re trying to say about search, which is that it should be transparent and democratically controlled.”

As of yesterday, however, anyone can make changes — even those who do not register on the site. Wales anticipated that the change will bring a lot more traffic to the search engine. “Already today, we’re seeing tons of activity,” he said.

Even though people no longer need to log in, Wiki Search still tracks the changes made to search results pages. “All the things people are doing are logged in the ‘wiki’ way so the community can see who does what,” Wales said. Those without a user ID will be tracked by their IP number, he explained.

Wales referred to the newly updated site as “alpha version 2.” He admitted that there will still be some “glitches and bugs” that will need to get fixed along the way.

In the future, Wales said he hoped to make additional changes to the site. “Internationalization is right on the agenda,” Wales said. “You can change the language to several different languages, but we haven’t crawled very far in those other languages and the interface needs translating and things like that,” he said.

Wales said he also anticipated adding advertising to the site. “We don’t have any specific plans, but that’s the general idea eventually. We just haven’t worried about it much yet,” he said.

Wikia Search is operated by Wikia, a for-profit company also co-founded by Wales. The company has no relation to Wikipedia.

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