Just over a year after launching his Wikia Search engine, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales is closing it down, citing the economy. Wikia Search attempted to duplicate Wikipedia’s success by allowing users to edit and suggest search results for different queries. It promised to insert transparency and a “human touch” in a market devoid of both. But according to the site’s own numbers, the experiment never took off. Queries are actually down since Wales re-launched Wikia Search last June, and the number of monthly contributions has also fallen sharply.
In an interview with CNET, Wales says that the economy has made him “reassess everything” and “do what we need to do to get to profitability.” Two employees will lose their jobs. Eventually, Wales says, he will return to the project.
That’s not to say that Wikia Search was completely fleeting. Since its launch, mainstream search engines have adopted some of Wikia Search’s features. SearchWiki, which Google (NSDQ: GOOG) launched in November, lets users customize Google search results by re-ranking them, editing them, or even deleting selected results. But unlike Wikia Search, those changes are only visible to the user who changes them. A Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Research project called U Rank also lets users re-rank and annotate results, which they can then share with friends. But the company has said there are no current plans to incorporate it into Live Search.