Jimmy Wales’s, founder of Wikipedia, has announced that his user edited online dictionary is set to launch a search engine. Previously reported on by ineedhits in December 2006 the search engine behemoths of Google and Yahoo! will have a new competitor come December 2007.
Wales has down played the initial launch, denying any immediate Google killing blow. He does believe that in a relatively short period, the yet unnamed search engine can rival the top search engines.
Besides the dominant position of Google in search, initially there is little to discredit Wales’s stance that Wikipedia cannot successfully compete against the larger search engines. Wikipedia has a huge online presence with regular first page listings for all kinds of keywords – but how well will the large user list and popularity convert with a search engine?
The answer lies in how it will rank pages. Google ranking is well documented with SEO practitioners trying a myriad of techniques to achieve a high ranking. Where as Google relies on a complex secret algorithm, the Wikipedia search engine will rely on users to rank pages. From Times Online Wales explains why the engine will use that particular ranking system,
“If you consider one of the basic tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision: ‘This page is good, this page sucks.’ Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgment, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way, but we have a really great method of doing it ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that.”
In a perfect world, “a community of trust” would work but whether users would take advantage of the ranking system to promote their site while discrediting another’s is yet to be seen. Soon it will be known how the new search engines performs, with a probable outcome being the ranking system being too open for abuse and the Wikipedia search engine establishing a niche position without making any serious challenge to the dominance of the major search engines.