Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo that the company's Wikia commercial spin-off will be launching a search engine built on user input and collaboration, similar to the online encyclopaedia.
Online retailer Amazon is reported to be one of the financial backers for the project, which Wales hopes will launch later this year.
"Probably what we will do is launch something in the fourth quarter of this year with a really big warning: 'It sucks, we know it sucks, it's experimental, don't panic'," Wales told reporters.
Wales claimed that the two companies currently dominating web search, Google and Yahoo, operate as closed systems that do not allow users to truly know how rankings are decided.
"I think search is now a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the internet and it is really fundamental to society as a whole. Therefore as citizens of the world we should be concerned about it being a secretive black box," he said.
Wales told reporters that Wikia's goal is to claim as much as five per cent of the search market, earning the firm a chunk of the multi-billion dollar search advertising market.
For the engine to last, however, the company will have to assure users that it will return honest results.
A recent scandal in which a Wikipedia volunteer editor lied about his identity has left the site reeling and has caused some people to call for a major reworking of Wikipedia's contributor system.
Wikipedia founder plans search engine
By Shaun Nichols on Mar 13, 2007 12:05PM