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Apr 22 2008   9:11PM GMT

Overheard: Is Wikipedia’s magic repeatable?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

searchwikia.jpg Distributed computing is a highly unusual approach to indexing, but it’s also consistent with Wikia’s participatory model. Regardless of whether or not Wikia’s search engine succeeds, the company’s willingness to experiment with unconventional approaches could spur innovation and change the landscape of the search engine market.

Ryan Paul (July 2007), Wikia acquires Grub distributed search indexing system

It’s been awhile since Jimmy Wales announced the purchase of Grub, a distributed search engine from LookSmart. I thought I’d stop by SearchWikia today and see how they’re doing.

Guess what? They haven’t seemed to have made much progress harnessing the wisdom of the crowds to improve search. The results are still awful. I picked something easy to query. “Oceanic six.” (In case you’re not a Lost fan, that’s the name of the six people audience members already know were somehow rescued from the island. I thought it would be a gift.) Here’s the garbage I got:


It comes back to the same conversation I keep having over and over again — why did Wikipedia work — and can its crowdsourcing success ever be repeated? Looks like the answer for distributed search is “not likely.”

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