February 21, 2009

Wikia Search / Yahoo results confusion example

I recently noted the Wikia Search using Yahoo operational change, speculating:
"And one wouldn't want people who go to Wikia Search currently to think the results are proof of anything other than that Yahoo has a program to allow others to use its search system. It would be pretty easy to get a misimpression along the way."

It turns out at least one person got exactly that sort of misimpression:

"... I really think this Wikia search has the ability to beat Google in some key areas. I've already discovered a few searches that Wikia Search beats Google on, and I figured I'd write one down - dreamhost wiki."

But it wasn't "Wikia Search", it was Yahoo's search.

I wonder if any reporters will be similarly fooled, and write even more Google-killer hype articles. Certainly I don't see any "Powered by Yahoo" identifier on Wikia Search now. For a project that touts "Transparency" as a main goal, that's rather ironic.

I checked the Yahoo! BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) details, and they don't require attribution, so what Wikia is doing is permitted. Still, given all the free publicity Wikia garnered, along with the storyline of killing Google (a complicated matter, something of a media invention), having it silently being so much a rebadged Yahoo! Search seems like something which, morally, should be more evident. The phrase "legal, but sleazy and unethical" comes to mind.

Disclaimer: I'm a member of the "negative people and FUD mongers".

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia-search , yahoo | on February 21, 2009 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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When Wales refers to 'negative people', you would hope that he is not against criticism itself, and is here complaining that Seth is just being negative for the sake of being negative. But if you are truly open to criticism, and the possibility that such criticism may be correct, then:

a) How do you know whether someone who is regularly critical of a project is just a 'negative person', or that the project has many faults?

b) Even if someone is just a 'negative person', why is this a bad thing? Criticisms from such people can still be valid, and therefore valuable, while invalid criticisms should be easy to bat away.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that while Wales will surely say that he welcomes criticism, he has a fairly low 'pain threshold', and sought to undermine Seth - a technology journalist with a column in The Guardian - by dismissing him as a 'negative person'.

Posted by: Derrick Farnell at February 22, 2009 08:53 AM

Hah! Wales hasn't merely dismissed Finkelstein as a "negative person", he's called Seth "an idiot", directly!

Posted by: Gregory Kohs at February 23, 2009 09:22 AM

Intelligence is truly defined when those who are using the time they could be correcting/improving their weaknesses versus touting about how stupid a user is...Finkelstein is practically giving them the answers to get better. why not just take it. I know this is a different direction than was listed above but I get tired of reading the low blows (not you seth)

Posted by: bunn at February 24, 2009 07:03 PM