The Dilemma Of Socially Driven Search
In a December 23rd posting, Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales announced the re-focusing of efforts geared toward developing a socially driven search engine. Wikiasari (or Wikia for short) is poised to take a competitive posture toward the larger search engines such as Google and Yahoo, but is this really good for the industry?
Wikipedia, the enormity of the blogosphere, and news aggregation sites such as Digg immediately spring to mind when the term "social media" is uttered by many a journalist and Web 2.0 enthusiast. It's become a buzzword in the online community, the next big thing that entrepreneurs should latch onto if they want to achieve success in the increasingly growing virtual real estate that comprises the user-generated Internet.
The realm of search, it would seem, is the next platform to be encapsulated by the love fest that revolves around social media.
Search Wikia is being heralded as the messiah of search engines, at least that's how it's being presented by the founder - Jimbo Wales. Here's what he had to say about the project in his posting last week:
"Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken," says Wales.
"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. Here, we will change all that."
That's right, Search Wikia is going to break the chains of search bondage and set the captives free, a virtual exodus that inspires mental imagery of Moses parting the red sea and...
Okay, so, maybe I'm being a little facetious.
Here's the thing; I'm not really sold on anything that is entirely comprised of human input and direction, at least not in this case. Search is a realm that is dependant on precision, and one has to look no further than Wikipedia to find that user-generated content is often anything but precise.
And for goodness sake, just look at the scandalous nature of Digg, where influential Diggers have blacklisted the entire SEO community on a mere whim. Why would anyone believe that socially driven search would be any different? What's to stop me from rating a competitor's site lowly in my social search rankings for no other reason than to gain an advantage?
Social media is a wonderful marketing tool, but it's all based on opinion and popularity; neither of which are even remotely relevant to search.
I'll take a good algorithm over a Digger with an axe to grind any day.
Tags: Search, Search Engine, Wikia
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