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Wikipedia Gets Plug-In Search Engine

"Wikiseek" debuts with money from Google's original VC firm, but the site will pump all advertising dollars back into the foundation.

The Wikipedia reference site is getting a new and improved search engine from Searchme, which announced the development Wednesday.

Called Wikiseek, the search engine was financed in large part by Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm that financed Google, Searchme representatives said. The fledgling search engine will be available both as a beta destination Web site as well as a Firefox extension inside Wikipedia.

To avoid the perils of too many false hits, Searchme said user feedback will be used to update Wikiseek on a continuous basis. The process will result in a relatively low incidence of search engine optimization spam. Searchme also noted that Wikipedia editors will approve "authoritative" pages. The announcement predicted that the service will grow in value over time as Wikipedia blossoms and as more links are added.

Unlike most search engines whose business models rely on sponsored links, most of the Wikiseek site's advertising revenue will be donated to the Wikipedia Foundation, which operates the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

"It just makes sense to donate the advertising revenue to the Wikimedia Foundation since our search results are enabled by the work done by Wikipedia volunteers," said Randy Adams, Searchme CEO. "Every time somebody edits a Wikipedia page, our search engine gets better."

The Wikiseek site can be accessed from multiple browsers, which often feature keyword ads. However, the Firefox extension version, available under open source licensing, carries no ads.

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