The wiki search engine gets another open-source boost

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' search engine will get advanced "categorization" software from a private firm that has agreed to release its source code.

Published August 3, 2007 4:26PM (EDT)

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' Search Wikia project -- an effort to create an open-source, community-built, transparent search engine that rivals Google and Yahoo -- announced today that it's adding an open-source "categorization" engine built by a firm called Intellisophic.

The software will help the search engine group similar items together in order to better understand and organize the Web. Intellisophic is a private firm that has been building taxonomy software since 1999; today the company is releasing those tools as an open source project so that coders around the world can join in the development, as well as help meld the code into Search Wikia's efforts.

Just a week ago Wales announced that Wikia had purchased Grub, a distributed Web-crawling program, and that it was making that software open source too.

Wales told me then that he expects the front end for the search engine to go up live by the end of this year. "We expect that it probably won't be very good at that point," he said, "and we'll probably have to put a big disclaimer on the site, 'We know this isn't very good, please help us to make it better.'"

With all these announcements, it really looks like he's moving along toward that goal. In a press release put out today, Jeremie Miller, one of the new search engine's developers, says, "we are looking to revolutionize the space from the ground up for the first time since Google launched ten years ago."

A revolution in search engines? I say this without cynicism: I can't wait.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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