The people behind the public encyclopedia Wikipedia have launched 'Wikia', a project to develop a search engine, crawlers and other indexing tools through a collaborative, open-source process.
Contributors will likely include graduate students as well large companies that want to include search functionality in their products but don't want to pay royalties to a search company, according to Wikia CEO Gil Penchina. Another constituency will likely be smaller search companies that don't have the time or money to do everything required for a complete search service themselves.
"Everyone has to crawl the Web, but it costs a lot of money," Penchina said. "There has been a lot of interest in academia for better tools."
The concept is being promoted largely by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Jabber founder Jeremie Miller. The ultimate goal of the project is to bring "absolute transparency, collaboration and human intelligence to complement search algorithms," according to a press release.
"Jeremie is a brilliant thinker and a natural fit to help revolutionize the world of search," Wales said in a statement. "I believe Internet search is currently broken and the way to fix it is to build a community whose mission is to develop a search platform that is open and totally transparent."
Not mentioned in the press release is the fact that Wikia
is a for-profit venture. The complete business plan has yet to be worked out, but profits and revenue may be derived from advertising or services, Penchina said. The intellectual property behind Wikia, however, will be freely licensed under standard open-source mechanisms.
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