Jimmy Wales is opening up the Wikia Search engine to anyone who wants their own data or application to show up in results. Called Wikia Intelligent Search Extensions (WISE), it lets developers create search results based on certain keywords or rules. Wales tells me:
It is like Facebook Apps for search results.
Wikia Search is launching the WISE framework with a bunch of partners: Digg (returns recent frontpage headlines as results), Indeed (for job search), Kayak (for travel searches), Last.fm (for music searches), and even Twitter (relevant Tweets). The other partners at launch will be AccuEather, AcronymFinder, Amie Street, Creative Commons (CC images), PleaseDressMe (T-shirt results) Thomson Reuters, Snooth (wine), and Yelp (local reviews). Partners can customize results not just for keywords, but create their own search apps. (Kayak’s, for instance, let’s you enter departing and returning dates when you search for a flight). So like Yahoo BOSS and Search Monkey, WISE lets developers change both the result ranking and the look and feel of customized results. In fact, anything that can be written in HTML can turn up as a result.
Already, regular users can help improve results on Wikia Search by voting individual results up or down, adding in their own links, or submitting “good” sites to Wikia’s index via a Firefox add-on. But now with the WISE API, Wikia Search is tapping into professional developers as well. In this way, Wikia Search is hoping to make its search engine better by relyingon the work of others. Says Wales:
One of the things we are interested in is vertical searches with a good API and sensible results (otherwise the community will give it a thumbs down). Hopefully, it will drive some traffic to them and make our search results better.
And what about gaming the system? Isn’t this just a free way to get sponsored search results? To prevent that sort of thing, each new app will be manually approved before it is rolled out. Wales criteria is that he will approve them as long as “they are not awful.” (Everyone else gets to test their apps in a developer sandbox until then). And like any other search result, users will be able to vote them up or down.
Will adding all of these apps be enough to make WikiaSearch itself relevant? Currently, it is averaging a measly 50,000 search queries a day. That gives it a whopping 0.013 percent share of the U.S. search market. (Even AOL does about 17 million search queries a day).