Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is trying out the technique that succeeded in putting together an online encyclopedia—opening it up so that anyone can edit it—to improving search results. Wales’ user-edited search engine Wikia Search is now out of alpha and open to the public for edits. Search for a term on Wikia Search and rate the results to change their ranking, edit link titles and descriptions, and add links to results. To see what’s perhaps Wikia Search’s best feature, click the Annotate link. This lets you select a section of text on the web page to clip and add to the result.
For example, in a search for “Lifehacker,” the Lifehacker Wikipedia page came up first and the actual web site second, so ranking Lifehacker.com high moved it up to the first position. Then clicking annotate (which loaded the Lifehacker.com front page in a separate frame), and selecting “Tech tricks, tips and downloads for getting things done” added that text to the result itself. The obvious problem here is the very real possibility of spammers and evil SEO-types running amok. Only time will tell if the Wikipedia approach will actually make for better or worse search results.