Much hype has surrounded the first ever human powered search engine. A search engine the creator claimed that could take on the search engine giant Google. However, it proved to be quite a letdown.
Search Wikia, a search engine developed by Wikia Inc., was launched in the alpha state last January 7. The uniqueness of the search engine stems from the fact that it is open source. Users are free to modify and adapt the software, search results, and other content compiled by the search engine. It allows users to vote upon individual results using 1 to 5 stars, and to flag results that the user finds inappropriate or irrelevant to the query, streamlining the search results even further. Also, it incorporates a social networking system alongside the search engine. It ties information about users and his friends along side search results.
Now let’s look at the itty gritty facts.
Looking at the “human powered” search engine, Search Wikia is quite a disappointment right now. A simple search such as “Arachnophobia” yielded only 212 results. You actually need to go down to 9 places before you get a result from a trustworthy site. The results from Search Wikia pales in comparison with Google’s 546,000 search results. With something more complex, Search Wikia fails to return any result at all. A search for “Oneirophrenia” returned zero results in Search Wikia, despite the fact that a website named www.oneirophrenia.com is available. Clearly, the search engine needs a lot of work right now.
Then there is the issue of the search engine being open source. Due to the transparency that they are offering, the ranking algorithms are visible to anyone who wishes to see it. The threat of spammers and hackers breaking the code and gaming the system is in the air. Not good if you are aiming to topple down Google in my opinion.
As for the social networking system, it’s just like every other social networking site out there. It asks for your profile, your interests and so on and so forth. Think of a really watered down social networking site crossed with a search engine, and you have Search Wikia.
All in all, it was an ambitious project. But the question remains, will it live up to the expectations that the hype created? Perhaps, but it’s certainly not today. Right now, when you need to search on something, Search Wikia would be at the bottom of your list. And you wouldn’t really use it right now for social networking. It needs a lot of work, especially in the indexing department, before anyone would even attempt to search something using it. They need to provide something new to the users before they adapt Search Wikia.