Wikia Search, the search engine launched by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, has rolled out some new features this week.
With these changes, if users aren’t satisfied with the results they get for a particular search term, they can edit the results themselves. These edited results can then be viewed by everyone who uses the search engine.
The new search engine only covers a small portion of the internet at the moment with just 30m pages indexed, a drop in the ocean compared to Google. Founder Jimmy Wales hopes that user participation will help Wikia Search grow from this point.
Users have a lot of input into the search results, and their positions in the rankings. If users think that a particular result is too high or too low, then they can influence this ranking by voting on the result.
Users can edit or even delete entire entries and create new ones in their place, or simply add a new result using the submission forms on the results pages.
This approach has worked well for Wikipedia, making it one of the more successful sites on the web, but whether this approach will work for search engines is unclear.
Any new search engine will find it hard to compete with Google on the speed and relevance of its search results, as well as the sheer amount of content it indexes.
By allowing users to edit search results, Wikia Search has opened itself up to the potential for people to try to manipulate it to promote their own websites, and move rivals down the ranking. The search engine will surely need a team of moderators to keep the results relevant.
With some good user contributions, the search engine may work well for some niche search term, as with the recently launched Mahalo, but it is unlikely that it will ever be a serious rival for Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.