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Critics Support Wikia Search Founder's Warnings

Jimmy Wales had warned that the open source search engine would be bad at first, but should improve over time.
Critics have complained about the quality of Wikia Search, the open source search engine unveiled by Jimmy Wales and company this week, but Wales had warned that the search engine would "suck."

When he first announced the idea, Wales said the search engine would improve over time, much like the other project he founded, Wikipedia, has.

Critics derided Wikipedia as unreliable in its early forms and universities prohibited students from citing the online encyclopedia in their papers. Since then, expert reviews have given the English and German language versions high marks for credibility.

So, even though Wikia Search doesn't have results for queries on celebrity singer and media obsession Britney Spears, users can change that. They can also lift Barack Obama's official campaign page in results rankings because the process is open.

Most software applications are released in beta form, which usually includes all planned features -- along with bugs. The version released earlier this week didn't even claim that status. Instead, it was labeled "alpha," but backers expressed confidence it would eventually become a favored tool for searching the Internet.

"This site, which we have been working on for a long time now, represents the first draft of the future of search," Wikia Search stated when it did a "soft launch" earlier this week.

Wikipedia and Wikia Search are not related except they both have Wales as a founder and they both result from the work of volunteer online communities. After several high-profile gaffes, the credibility of the first project seems to have increased over time.

The online encyclopedia tightened its rules on contributions and edits and the German version recently ranked higher than Brockhaus, the traditional 15-volume German encyclopedia. In 43 of 50 articles, experts judged the Wikipedia entries more favorably.