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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 11:52 GMT
Wikipedia creator turns to search
Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia boss (Getty)
Jimmy Wales: Search is "broken"
The creator of the Wikipedia encyclopedia is turning his attention to search engines.

Jimmy Wales, the man behind the collaborative online reference work, is planning to create a "people-powered" search site.

The Search Wikia project will not rely on computer algorithms to determine how relevant webpages are to keywords.

Instead the results generated by the search engine will be decided and edited by humans.

The project will stand apart from the Wikipedia encyclopedia and will be overseen by Wikia Inc.

Like the Wikipedia, the search site will rely on a large community of members to create and run it.

Announcing the project Mr Wales said it was needed because the existing search systems for the net were "broken".

They were broken, he said, because they lacked freedom, community, accountability and transparency.

The Search Wikia project would aim to change this and he said it would draw on the work of search products such as Nutch and Lucene which have taken a more open approach to search engines.

At the moment the results returned to those using keywords on sites such as Google are generated by computers which analyse webpages to work out what they are about and how useful they are.

Webpage owners use all kinds of tricks to outsmart the computer indexing systems and ensure their pages appear high up in results - even if they are not relevant to particular keywords.

By contrast the relevance of results returned by the Search Wikia will be decided by the site's community of users. Those searching will also be able to edit the list of results they get.

Mr Wales announced his plans for the search project before Christmas and was now recruiting people and buying hardware to get it up and running. There is no indication when it will be launched.

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