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Isn't it true that all the critics have trashed the search engine and the founders are in defensive mode?
That may be the case, but the current SERPs give reason for that. I remember the old days when Altavista, Lycos and Excite were the search engines I used. At that time I was used to at least 5 adult listings in every top 10 search. Google came silently and offered SERPs where every time 9 out of 10 listings where relevant to the search query.
Now Wikia is in the oposit position. The current SERPs of the three big engines Google, Yahoo and Live are most of the time relevant to the search query (not always optimal, but surely better than the SERPs 10 years ago), and Wikia offers something which is obviously lower in quality than the three big engines now. It isn't that they can't improve to a point where their results are acceptable, but the only search engine I have seen rising from nothing to something is Google, which through an alternative way of examining the content on the internet (i.e. looking at page interlinking rather than page content alone) made a giant step in relevance right from the start. Wikia just seems to dial a little bit on the Nutch control knobs and that is all. Nothing revolutionary, nothing new, nothing that will ever give them a chance to compete with the current established search engines.
The same for search engines. SE's are there for searchers, and searchers (i.e. almost the total internet community) have enough experience with other search engines to decide if the quality of Wikia matches their expectations and they are therefore qualified to comment.
At the moment Search Wikia's index is supposed to be a proof of concept index. If it does not produce relevant results for user queries then it does not offer users any incentive to switch engines. The Social Networking aspect seems a bit 2006 but it could offer some refinement to the process.
There are threads in the Alternative Search Engines forum where people who thought that their search engine was going to change the status quo. Some of them used Nutch and I don't think that many lasted longer than a year or so. Search Wikia has until its funding runs out to produce something usable - that might make the difference. But what's to stop the major players from implementing some similar kind of SERP voting or social networking?
What I actually liked -- protos of people related to the seaarch term (however, why empty images? uninspiring).
Would you have liked it if someone put a very ugly photo to appear on top of searches for your name? I am not sure I would (unless it is my ugly photo), not someone else playing up the system that can be done very easily.
So what do people think of SW's future now?