Posted July 30, 2007 10:38 am by with 8 comments

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales would like you to help him build the revenue for his new “for profit” venture Wikia. Wikia has acquired the distributed crawler Grub from LookSmart and Wales plans to make it open source. He’d like to invite the community to line his coffers.

In case you need a better understanding of Wales’ plans, he explains his motives:

“Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken,” Wales said back in December 2006, when Wikia launched Search Wikia effort. “Why is it broken? It is broken for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability, lack of transparency.”

Of course, Wales forgets to mention that Wikipedia wouldn’t have anywhere near the success if its content didn’t appear in the top 5 of Google for just about every generic keyword you can imagine. It also slipped his mind that he has a track record of not exactly giving back to those that helped make it a success – they’ll happily “assimilate” your web content, just don’t expect a link back in the process.

I wish Jimmy Wales the best of luck, but if he really wants to change the world, why not improve the non-profit Wikipedia? If his plans involve Wikia – which means he’s in this for the money – spare us the sanctimonious spin.

  • Why is this just doing the internet rounds now? The interview was in netmagazine a couple of months ago

  • @Glen – because they just made the acquisition.

  • It will be interesting to see if Wales can really get any large group to help him make his profit off of search. Wikipedia works because people feel good about contributing to a collective knowledge that has no strings attached. Working for free to help Wales make his tech stardom pay of in actual dollars is another matter.

    We debuted our human-powered search engine Bessed just before the initial news reports about Wales’ search effort came out. My initial reaction was that competing with such a project would be difficult, but now I think the project will be more of a mess than anything else.

    I’m not always a fan of Jason Calacanis, but at least he jumped in by paying people to contribute to his project. Jimmy Wales seems to think his reputation as some sort of Zen master will cause people to do his company’s work without questioning why he’s making money off of their labor. It will be interesting to find out how many disciples he actually has.

  • I read about it yesterday on Digg. It’ll be kind of complicated, you know what Agent Smith from The Matrix says: never count on a human to do a machine’s job. 😀

  • Great post,

    Yesterday one of the biggest business newspaper also wrote an article about it in Norway. The first time I read it was in march 2007- Then the journalist wrote that Wikia was hoping to get 5% of the searchers. I mean, 5% how is that possible. My bet would be that Google, Yahoo and MSN will take actions against both Wikia and Wikipedia if they try to compete against them.

    It is also woth mentioning that at the time being, 70% av visitors to Wikipedia goes through the big three.

  • But how accurate is the information that Wikipedia supplies? A set of nerds who think that they know everything but where there is no authoritative reference. i.e to a qualified and highly experienced/respected authority (with 50 years on his or her back at least) et al leaves the information totally open to abuse. This is the greatest danger for the world-at-large, accepting what Wikipedia says without question and where if history is rewritten, future generations will just not know right from wrong. A terrible state of affairs for all future generations to come. The same thing will probably equate to the equivalent of Google. I would steer completely away, for the ramification for the future generations are grave to say the very least.
    Dr. David Hill Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation Charity
    Bern, Switzerland Registration no.CH- – 11th July 2005, in the Canton of Bern

  • As Dr. Hill mentions, Wikipedia has flaws but so does the Encyclopedia Britannica at least according to a study comparing the reliability (or accuracy) of the two. As far as Search Wikia goes, he’ll have to do a lot to make the site relevant — the search engine shake out indicates that the strong are already on top and improving all of the time.

  • Dr. Carl Edwin Lindgren

    Wikipedia is at best garbage. The following remark appeared on Wikipedia – “What I’m seeing is a lot of puffed-up titles with little backing or significance, employment at something one step up from a diploma mill, and no sign of real academic notability (or for that matter real-world notability as measured by major media attention). —David Eppstein (talk) 08:04, 15 December 2008 (UTC)” The ‘professor’ was referring in part to American Military University. AMU has over 30,000 students and is regionally accredited. When does this rubbish stop? I believe this is libel at best. Few academicians ever use Wikipedia. Try looking up the terrible job done on “chivalric orders”.