Jimmy Wales is best known for his role in founding Wikipedia—and for bringing some controversy to the foundation for personal expenses and alleged payment-for-edit actions. However, Wales has also been involved in the startup Wikia, which has been operating since 2006. The idea behind Wikia is to apply community-driven services and so-called crowdsourcing to everyday Internet tasks, following the principle that the “wisdom of crowds” is going to be a whole lot better at giving people what they want than even the most sophisticated search algorithm.
Wikia Search is based on an open-source distributed indexing service called Grub, and enabled users to rate and filter their search results. However, while Wikia services in general seem to be seeing growth—in February Nielsen pegged Wikia sites as the fifth fastest-growing community service on the Internet—particularly in its gaming and entertainment offerings—Wikia Search has never really taken off. To that end, Wales has announced that Wikia Search has been put to rest.
Wales says Wikia will continue to focus on developing its other community properties, and that he continues to believe the free software and community-driven features can offer up new opportunities in Internet search.
“In a different economy, we would continue to fund Wikia Search indefinitely,” Wales wrote. “I will return to again and again in my career to search, either as an investor, a contributor, a donor, or a cheerleader.