Wikipedia Founder Shuts Wikia Search Down
Article by George Norman
On 01 Apr 2009
In an ironic twist of fate, the would-be Google search killer Wikia, the search engine developed by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, has been shut down – I say ironic because recently we reported that Microsoft is discontinuing its virtual encyclopedia Encarta and the main cause of this decision seems to be the fact that users “seek and consume information in considerably different ways,” which is Microsoft’s polite way of acknowledging that users first turn to Wikipedia for their information needs, then to other sources.

Wikia Search was supposed to be the Wikipedia of Search engines and put the competition, like Google, to shame. According to its founder, the service was meant to “fix Internet search by working to free the judgment of information from invisible rules inside an algorithmic black box”. The simple truth of the matter is that the quality of the search results was not satisfactory – despite the fact that Wikia Search took advantage of user collaboration so as to be able to provide better search results, and despite Jimmy Wales’ once upon a time statement that he must design “a Google killing search engine so I can buy a jet.”


“If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my career, it is to do more of what’s working, and less of what’s not. While I personally believe in the opportunity for free software to make serious inroads into the search space, our project, Wikia Search, has not been enjoying the kind of success that we had hoped. In a different economy, we would continue to fund Wikia Search indefinitely. It’s something I care about deeply. I will return to again and again in my career to search, either as an investor, a contributor, a donor, or a cheerleader. But for now, we will be closing the doors on the Wikia Search project (as of March 31, 2009) and will be re-directing and refocusing resources on other properties,” explains Jimmy Wales.

Tags: Wikipedia, Wikia Search, Google
About the author: George Norman
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