Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is all set to start a new project called Wikiasari. Slated as a search engine service, Wikiasari aims to take on the likes of Google and Yahoo! in the future. The search engine is expected to be launched in first quarter of 2007.
Wikiasari will have the backing of Amazon and use the same user-based technology that powers Wikipedia. As for the unusual name, Wales explained that ‘Wiki’ meant quick in Hawaiian, while ‘asari’ meant rummaging search in Japanese. The search engine would be managed by Wikia Inc.
He added, “Google is very good at many types of search, but in many instances it produces nothing but spam and useless crap. Try searching for the term ‘Tampa hotels’, for example, and you will not get any useful results.”
“Essentially, if you consider one of the basic tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision, ‘this page is good, this page sucks’. Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgments, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way. But we have a really great method for doing that ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that,” explained Wales.
He, however, admitted that taking on giants like Google, Yahoo! and MSN would be a tough challenge.
Wales’ reason for developing an alternative to the big search engines was that he spotted problems with some searches that were being carried out. He noticed that the use of an algorithm and displaying results by rankings didn’t always return the links and information an individual was after.
Wikiasari would work differently, and much like Wikipedia, would be community driven. Wales hopes to combine free software and thousands of people to help sort through the good and bad information out there, making searches more trustworthy and to the point.
Besides Amazon, funds are being received from several Silicon Valley investors.
In order to take on the likes of Google, Wikia will have to keep its advertising simple and focus on making Wikipedia’s neutral point of view policy work for search rankings as well. If that happens, Google might have some real competition on its hands.