Rabu, 02 Januari 2008

Can Social Search Take Down Google? (NewsFactor)

Jimmy Wales Wikia Search will open to the public next week with an eye toward improving search by letting users tweak search results in a fashion similar to how users edit entries on Wikipedia.

Wales, the founder of Wikipeida, announced that the project would enter public beta on January 7. The goal, he said, is to reduce the "bottleneck of two or three firms really controlling the flow of search traffic."

The public release should be considered alpha, Wales said. "We want to run over the system with help from people to complain about what is broken."


Wikiia Search was originated in July, when Wales announced that his company, Wikia, had acquired a distributed-search project called Grub and was releasing it under an open-source license.

"The desire to collaborate and support a transparent and open platform for search is clearly deeply exciting to both open source and businesses," Wales said in July. He said Wikia would work to "free the judgment of information from invisible rules inside an algorithmic black box."

Analysts questioned whether the user-edited model that has proved so successful with Wikipedia would scale to the demands of consumer search engines. Wikia Search will launch with 50 to 100 million Web pages indexed, while Google indexes billions of pages.


"I think he doesnt really understand the scale of what Google has to handle in terms of the queries from around the world and the amount of traffic that flows to it and the attempts that are made to try to manipulate it," said Danny Sullivan, editor of the Web site Search Engine Land.

Jordan McCollum, writing on the Marketing Pilgrim blog, said the projects list of must-index sites makes the usefulness of the project dubious, as it includes such little used Wikipedia-related sites as Wiktionary and WikiNews alongside e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon.

"Jimmy has long stated that 3 to 5 percent of the search engine market would be enough to sustain Wikia Searchs business model. The real question is whether or not theyll be able to get even that," McCollum wrote.


Wikia Search is not the only attempt at social search. On Monday, a startup called EarthFrisk.org launched a so-called "meta-social-hybrid" search engine that combines user ratings of search results with algorithmic attempts to collect the best results from the major search engines.

"Over time we expect the community aspect to overshadow the best results were generating now," Michael Lodispoto, managing member of EarthFrisk.org, said. "Search results are based on links, but were going to go beyond that."

Lodispoto called the project a "real alternative to the major search engines." He emphasized that EarthFrisk would do a better job than Google or the other major search engines at filtering spam from legitimate search results. "Filtering as millions of eyeballs commenting and voting can beat any algorithm of any company," he said.

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