Wikia’s open-source “social search” alpha is up

Wikia‘s an open-source search engine that uses community feedback to improve search results, an approach referred to as ‘social search’, and they released their alpha version today. I briefly discuss the social networking aspects of this and my initial experiences on the Tales from the Net blog and linked out to some initial reviews and discussion. In South Korea, Naver dominates the market via a social search approach; when I was at Microsoft, I strongly lobbied for the company investing in this to complement its algorithmic approaches and try to leapfrog Google rather than catching up, so I’m a big believer in the possibilities if it’s done right.

There’s an interesting debate about Wikia’s intent to be transparent about its search algorithms and implementation: will this give the advantage to people trying to hack the system to put their site on top? Or — because the community as a whole and responsibly-behaving web site owners all have an interest in getting the users high-quality search results — will it instead create a system where search engine optimizers and marketers (SEOs/SEMs) are above-ground participants, and overall results are better? Hard to know … if Wikia starts to get some traction, with luck, we’ll find out.