Search Engines… Oh, The Humanity

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The struggles to Search Engine Optimize a website continues. As Universal Search (aka blended search) continues to proliferate the organic search results, and as Google dances and futzes with algorithms and other neat stuff that freaks out anybody and everybody who builds a website, Jimmy Wales (the guy behind Wikipedia) has rebooted his own search project, Wikia Search.

Here’s what CNET‘s Rafe Needleman had to say about it on June 3rd, 2008 in his news item, Wikia Search Launches The Hackable Search Engine:

"Starting today, if you do a search on the engine and don’t like the results, you’ll be able to change them. Your changes will apply not just for yourself, but rather for everybody.

The engine will launch with a smallish subset of machine-indexed pages, about 30 million, which will form the baseline that Wikia Search will let users go to town on. It’s ‘hardly a full crawl’ of the Web, admits Wikia (and Wikipedia) co-founder Jimmy Wales, but it’s a start.

The editing you can do on Wikia Search is extensive. If you think a result on a search result page is too low or too high in the listings, you can influence its position by rating it. You can delete entries entirely or hand-write new ones. You can also rewrite the text of a search result, including adding code to the result (to insert, perhaps, a site-specific search, like Google’s search-within-search)."

I gave it a shot. I liked what I saw and, as usual, I’m frustrated that I didn’t think of a search engine that works like this.

No, it’s not the Semantic Web we’re all waiting for, but it’s a nice hybrid – it blends the technological code of search, but empowers individual’s to add, criticize and fix.

So, should you be scared that it’s going to become fully polluted by the evil doers of the Web? I’d like to think that there will only be some malicious activity (ok, there will probably a lot) , but if the same good group (generally) who helped build Wikipedia dig in deep and expand the circle of friends, this could well be a project we should all keep our eyes on.

You can check out Wikia Search in action. Wales put together a video demo. Click to view.

For the record, check out the video… it will blow you away. People, let’s use this amazing tool for good (not evil)… Please.

Search Engines are getting more and more human… it’s a good day for fans of the Internet.


  1. I whole-heartedly agree Mitch. I’m hoping that this will be used for good but some of the feedback so far isn’t great.
    Having no knowledge of wikipedia’s history, I’m not sure but am thinking that it took some time for it to get past some of the ‘evil’ doings.
    Hopefully, crowdsourcing will prove to be a great success with this one too!

  2. Wikia Search isn’t the first product like this. Both Swicki and Sproose are very similar products.
    I think where Wikia Search has the advantage, however, is that there’s already an established and active user-base. This kind of user-edited search engine needs something like the Wikipedia community behind it, and I think that lacking that kind of user-base is why similar products have never made headlines.

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