Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales is in Australia, in a meeting with several dedicated Wikipedians who callhim the “God King”. Naturally, the online encyclopedia is still important for him, yet Wales gave up its foundation chair last year. His main focus these days is on the promotion of Wikia Search, the human-powered open source search engine project.

When The Times reported just before Christmas that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was working on a search engine to rival Google, the search industry experienced its first major shake-up in years. Search, Wales claimed, was broken and in many instances Google produced “nothing but spam and useless crap”. The entire system including algorithms needed to be open and transparent to make it more trustworthy, said Wales. A neutral community similar to Wikipedia’s would then help improve the quality of search. “I’ve been working on this search concept for two or three years just as a side project, “Wales explains. “Then I realised the time was right – I was capable to get some funding and there was a lot of interest from the open source community. Also, when I looked at projects such as Lucene [lucene.apache.org] and Nutch [lucene.apache.org/nutch], which are existing open source projects, I noticed they have become more robust and of near top-notch quality in the last couple of years. So the technology seems about ready to be mature. If we can just give it a push, we should be able to put out something pretty good.”

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