The folks behind the much maligned Wikipedia Web site are gunning for a piece of Google's search pie, according to a press release at Earth Times. Founder Jimmy Wales says Wikia is working on an open source search engine.
Search results, as well as all the technology used in the engine, will be made freely available. Wikia will provide the resources necessary to fully test the search algorithm, Wales says in the release. Inability to make the large hardware investment required for such testing has brought previous open source search engine efforts to premature ends.
Yes, Wales acknowledges that competing with Google is a big task that will, no doubt, be made more difficult by the clones that are bound to pop up once the source code is released. That, however, doesn't seem to bother him. Wales says the clones will ultimately drive traffic to the original Wikia search engine. And what if 5 percent of the market is an overly optimistic goal? No big deal. Even 2 percent to 3 percent is "a pretty decent little business."
Never mind the fact that the company wants to compete with Google -- that's a completely separate blog post. What we find interesting is that the company would launch a new project in the midst of the PR disaster that is hammering Wikipedia now.
If the company can't be trusted to check out its contributors' credentials, are users going to take its project and the resulting product seriously? Or are its officers and management smarter than we give them credit for being in that they are planning to leverage the extra publicity to "sell" the new product?
This is one we'll keep an eye on.