It is going to take more than just an open search platform to take on Google. Wikia co-founder Jimmy Wales announced today that he is shutting down Wikia Search, the company’s experiment in creating better search results through crowdsourcing. Wikia Search attempted to port the Wikipedia model over to search by allowing anybody to modify results by including new links or moving natural results up the page. The initial launch last year was awful, but the experience improved over time. Still, it never really attracted anything more than a trickle of searchers. We are placing it in the deadpool.
Then Wikia Search got Googled when the search juggernaut launched its own Search Wiki feature, which lets you do pretty much the same thing on Google itself (move results up the page, block results, add comments—except it only affects your search results, not everyone’s). And so it goes. You cannot compete in search if your idea can be easily copied by Google.
But if Wikia Search had never existed, Google might never have felt pressure to add wiki features to its interface. In that regard, Wikia Search did have an impact beyond its own site.
Wales says that Wikia will focus its resources on its main Wikia service for building wikis, as well as Wikianswers, a Q&A service which launched earlier this year and also faces stiff competition, but not from Google.