September 27, 2007

"Wikia Search" interview and state of Wikipedia-model search project

There's a brief interview with Jeremie Millier about the current status of what he's doing for "Wikia search", which is the for-profit Wikipedia-model search project.

I'd submitted a few suggested questions for this interview, but they were all rejected. I had wanted to know:

1) Roughly, how many people will be *paid* on the project?

1b) Can you specify whether at developed vs. developing economy pay scales?

2) Do you plan to hire anyone with search engine development expertise?

3) Do you think there's a cultural conflict between Wikipedia's model of operating, where in theory nobody owns any articles, and code development, where typically specific people "own" various subsystems? Which path do you plan to try to follow?

Note understanding 1b) requires some context. It was based on how the company Wikia had decided to offshore programmers - to Poland! That's definitely not something that's talked about a lot.

"Wales said he settled on Poland in part because software engineers there are simultaneously highly skilled and affordable, a combination that he said is hard to find, even elsewhere in Eastern Europe."

[Keep in mind, all you US programmers who are tempted to fall for the marketing, you're not affordable - everyone thinks it's going to be the other guy who works for free.]

Anyway, even though the interview only covers technical topics, it's still worth a read if you're interested in some details of what's behind the hype the audience is being fed.

For summary, given my position above, I'll just quote John McCormac's list-comment

Interesting interview. I didn't realise that Grub was quite that bad.


On the search side, the Wikiasearch project (if we can call it that) doesn't seem to be doing anything beyond what hundreds of small search startups are doing. The management, bundling and repackaging aspects is, so far, perhaps the only innovative angles.

[Update: reply from Wales, clarification, skepticism]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia-search | on September 27, 2007 09:15 AM (Infothought permalink)
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Minor typo... your questions are labeled 1, 1a, 2, and 3, but the next sentence is "Note understanding 1b) requires some context."

Posted by: Bennett Haselton at September 27, 2007 02:12 PM

Fixed, thanks.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 27, 2007 02:16 PM

Thanks for highlighting the thread. I don't have time to dig that deep.

So I take it that right now the bot is in use and crawling the world (but bumping against testing limits).

I can see this bot getting banned real fast - if not already - as a story appears on a popular site and a lot of users dump that url into its start search here now sequence.

How many users are they expecting to run this for them?

If the major blog hosters block it, it will be of no use for searching blogs.

I can just see yahoo and microsoft allowing it run over their sites as well.

So without major news sites, ms knowledge base, blogs, what is left that will be useful?

Sites like cryptome would probably just ban it (or worse) because of the abuse they already get from bots.

How much useful content is left?

Maybe a lot and maybe there is a niche for search engine that search everything except major sites and "highly linked"/authoritave pages.

My contribution to the search eco-system lately has been trying hakia and giving them some feedback - just because I like to see competition in the markets.

I don't think wikiasearch will be it.

Posted by: tqft at September 29, 2007 06:11 PM

Yes, the bot's in use - but how useful it is, is a different question!

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 30, 2007 02:57 PM