The Times (link dead) reported that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is going launch a search engine named Wikiasari to rival Google with funding and investment from and other Silicon Valley financiers. The name of Wikiasari is taken from wiki, Hawaiian word for “quick,” and asari, Japanese word for “rummaging search”. And the new search engine will be a commercial venture through Wales’ for-profit company Wikia Inc, with official launch scheduled at first quarter of 2007.

Wikiasari will aim for the same network of followers and use the same free open source user-based technology software as Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia which allows readers or Wikipedians to edit entries. In Wikiasari, human judgement from a trusted community will be used to determine whether a content is of high quality and should include in the search engine, or is simple a spam or useless page, instead of relying on computer-based algorithmic search program such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN (now Windows Live) that are open to manipulation and spam.

Techcrunch has published an exclusive screenshot of Wikiasari with the page displaying search results from the search term “Toyota Camry”. It also provides more details on how Wikiasari going to works.

Wikiasari will be focused on quality first, depth second. Search results will include tag based navigation, the top three results will be wikipedia content, and the remaining results are determined by sites wikipedia considers to be “reputable” because they are external reference links from wikipedia pages.

Since all search results will be tied to wikipedia, either directly by linking to wikipedia content or because the sites are linked to from Wikipedia, real people will eventually be determining all search results and rankings within Wikiasari.

If the features of the Wikiasari is correct as quoted on Techcrunch, there is simply no need of an additional new search engine, as Google Co-op Custom Search Engine (now Google Custom Search) can do the job adequately. Google Co-op CSE allows users to specify or prioritize the sites they want to include in searches, which in case, should be Wikipedia domains and/or any other sites that the Wikiasari editors trusted. The Google CSE also comes with a handy tool Google Marker that allows users to include or exclude a web page in Custom Search Engine or Google topic easily. Ultimately, Wikiasari hopes users collaboration will create a high quality and relevant search engine, but all this features have been built-in and readily available in Custom Search Engine, including labels that is similar to tags.

If you hate Google, or don’t like everything to be powered by Google, how about another Digg site that limits its submission to Wikipedia articles or its related websites? More Digg the higher the ranking. OK, you can argue that Digg is not a search engine, rather a social bookmarking service. And you also don’t need the Digg effect or the easily manipulated banned domains censorship in Digg. Then how about create a StumbleUpon for Wikipedia? With StumbleUpon concept, you can easily rank a site higher when you like a webpage after viewing it by clicking on I Like It, or you can click on It Sucks when you dislike it.

No matter what search concept the Wikiasari took, or how the user contributions going to run, in my humble opinion, there likely be only 2 scenarios that will occur when Wikiasari launched.

  1. Unable to attract major switch and convert of Internet users or even Wikipedians to use the new search engine from Google, Yahoo!, Windows Live, Ask and other search engines due to quality or depth or whatever issue. Wikiasari will become a niche search engine, with prospect of slow death, and Google and Yahoo! continue to fight for first spot in search traffic.
  2. Wikiasari is instant success, all other search engines take a big hit. However, at this point, expect any or all of the following:
    • Flood of spams, irrelevant or useless pages.
    • If you can’t join them, spoil or vandal them. Expect revenge-style removal of quality pages from the search engine.
    • Jealousy killed. More and more sites and domains will be labeled as spam, duplicate or such.
    • If you own a business, and someone wrote bad review or bad thing on your company or product, what would you do? Remove them!
    • Wikiasari trusted community or editors tighten controls and heighten censorship, causing upset.
    • Technorati can rest in peace, as all bloggers and publishers will automatically submit their new articles or posts to Wikiasari.
    • More jobs will be created (in third world countries) to artificially boosts the ranking of a site.
    • To counter spam, more and more domains or websites or URLs are banned, reducing depth. Less relevant search results, higher user defection.

    In short, if Wikasari takes off, there will be a lot of Internet marketeers, SEO experts, AdSense earners, website publishers or anyone rely on organic search traffic that will try to vandal, or alter, or game the system to their advantage, especially when the search engine is totally based on human input. With all these vandalism and manipulation, unless it can be controlled, expect Wikiasari to fail miserably sooner rather than later.

So basically, there is no way Wikiasari will success if it’s completely based on user collaboration style as in Wikipedia, as there are simply too much web pages on the Internet that are able to monitor by moderators or editors, and yet, these web pages, especially blogs, are growing at the faster each new day.

Update: Wikiasari has been discontinued since 2009.