New Wikia Search Engine Now Live
Initially, people will only be able to do general Web searches, but the plan is to add tabs for image and news searches later. Likewise, Search Wikia's index will only contain links to English-language Web sites at first, but more languages will be supported progressively. "The goal is to be in as many languages as possible as fast as possible," Wales said.
Improvements to Search Wikia will be added on a rolling basis. "It's release early, release often. We want to be constantly updating the software every day," he said. Search Wikia will be supported by advertising revenue, but it hasn't yet been determined how.
Search Wikia's software and data, including its Web crawl index, will be freely available to anyone wishing to use them to create their own engine or search application, Wales said.
"With an open-source search engine, lots of people will download and use our software to compete with the major players. We think we have a chance of actually restructuring the industry to be much more competitive," Wales said.
In the past, Wales has said that search isn't a "defensible business" because it's easy for users to switch among providers, so democratizing search is a good thing for all companies in this market. What is a defensible business is the ad brokerage that rides on top of the search engine activity, and that's where a company such as Google should focus, according to Wales.
Search Wikia and Wikipedia operate under two organizations that were both founded by Wales: Wikia Inc. is a commercial, for-profit company with about 40 full-time employees. Wales is its board chairman. The Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, is a nonprofit entity, and Wales is its chairman emeritus.
Wikia Inc. and Wikimedia operate independently. Search Wikia is one of several projects and services at Wikia Inc.