Wikia Search, the Jimbo Wales-backed open-source search project, officially launches today after a year of development. Wales, a Wikipedia co-founder, wants to “do cool stuff” by launching the project, but he also hopes to make “a political statement about transparency and openness.” Ars spoke with Wales about Wikia Search, taking on Google, and the fact that even algorithms are editorial statements.
Wikia Search was announced at the end of 2006, but it wasn’t clear at the time how the system would work (the for-profit Wikia is not affiliated with Wikipedia). There was much talk about “openness” and “user control” and “transparency,” but the details were elusive. In July 2007, the project came into some focus when Wikia acquired the Grub indexing system and released it under an open-source license. But only in the last few weeks has Wikia Search entered even a “pre-alpha” state suitable for limited user testing.