Wikia search engine goes live

Open source, community search engine is looking for volunteers to help build project into better alternative to commercial rivals.

Wikia Search Alpha

Just like Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written and maintained by a volunteer group of contributors and collaborators, Wikia Search is a freely-licensed (open source) search engine.

It relies on the same concept of "trusted user feedback from a community of users acting together in an open, transparent, public way," said a launch statement on its homepage, adding that the future of internet search must be based on openness and collaboration, the protection of privacy and better quality search results.

But just like Wikipedia, it is not expected to start delivering the quality of search results it aspires to until it has built up its contributing user and development community.

Registering participants can improve and extend the search software itself, using open application programming interfaces (APIs) and bug reporting facilities, as well as suggest pages for the index and evaluate and rate search results.

They will get access to a social networking environment, which includes lists of friends and updates on their activities, photo uploading and profile building features.

Wikia Search users will be presented with a 'mini article' at the top of the results list, which could take the form of a variety of media, including a photo, text definition or external link, that best matches the search term.

Below the 'mini article' will be a list of results that users can rank in terms of quality. But the numbers of indexed pages (between 50 and 100 million) will be considerably less than the billions of Google, Yahoo and Ask.com for now.

By allowing users to rank each individual search result, the search algorithms used to create results can be improved to provide more accurate results. While the community and administrators will be on hand to identify those abusing the system.

Wikia Search will only include English-language websites at first, but support for more languages is planned as the project grows, as are image and news search tabs.

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