Wikia launched today. I’m going to hold my tongue. It’s hard to compare anything to Google as they’ve generally done a stellar job to date.
Techcruch hates it. I’m not sure what Wikia could have done better here.
They did try to manage expectations:
To be fair, CEO Gil Penchina warned me it wouldn’t be a great product at launch. It’s simply a proof of concept of what can be created using open source software and little money, he says. Fair enough. But it’s time for Wales to be quiet, let this thing evolve or not, and eventually let the software do the talking.
Of course there are some obvious problems here. Searches for Viagra, Levitra, Mortgage, etc. all turn up spam.
Which makes sense. They used their crawler Grub (similar to Spinn3r) to aggregate content but they’re only using a simple term weighting algorithm.
Basically it’s search ALA 1995.
Perhaps this is just due to the rise in Apple expectations. You can’t release a product until it’s perfectly polished. No more evolutionary adaptation unless it’s in another major rev of the product.
We are aware that the quality of the search results is low..
Wikia’s search engine concept is that of trusted user feedback from a community of users acting together in an open, transparent, public way. Of course, before we start, we have no user feedback data. So the results are pretty bad. But we expect them to improve rapidly in coming weeks, so please bookmark the site and return often.
Perhaps Mahalo should recognize this as a shot across their bow and ship their own search engine?
According to Wales, Search Wikia’s primary innovation will be to tie a user’s social network – that is, information about the user and their friends – into search results. The idea is that a user and their friends share a common set of preferences and that using that information makes search results more personalized as well as more relevant. More on that in a second.
Let’s assume for a moment that Wikia can pull it off. They build this great community and prove their idea works.
Why can’t Google just HIRE these people away and have them improve the rankings of Google?