Wikia Search bites the dust, fails as a Google alternative

It was the brainchild of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Wikia Search, Jimmy Wales' long-shot attempt at disrupting Google's search-engine dominance, is closing on Tuesday.

Wales, the Wikipedia founder, made the announcement in his blog, saying that Wikia Search, which launched in January 2008, failed to earn the expected levels of popularity.

"In a different economy, we would continue to fund Wikia Search indefinitely. It's something I care about deeply. I will return ... again and again in my career to search, either as an investor, a contributor, a donor, or a cheerleader," he wrote.

"But for now, we will be closing the doors on the Wikia Search project -- as of March 31, 2009 -- and will be redirecting and refocusing resources on other Wikia.com properties," he added.

With Wikia Search, Wales bet that a better mousetrap could be built in search and offer a credible alternative to Google.

His approach: an open-source, community-driven search engine.

Anyone could add, delete and rate Web pages in its index. The engine was open for developers to build applications for it.

"It's all the classic things that we learned from the wiki model: basically putting all that editorial control into the hands of the community so that it's easier to do good than to do harm. That's the basic philosophy," he told IDG News Service in June of last year.

Wikia Search is a project at Wikia Inc., a commercial, for-profit company that Wales founded. It operates independently of the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia and was also founded by Wales.

At press time, Wikia Search's Web site was still available. Wales plans to focus Wikia's efforts on services that have gotten more traction, like its question-and-answer site Wikianswers.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service

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