back to article Reluctant Wikipedia lifts lid on $2.5m internet search engine project

The Wikimedia Foundation has finally disclosed details of its controversial Knowledge Engine grant – and it confirms that Wikipedia is getting seriously into search, despite Jimmy Wales' categorical denial that WMF is “doing a Google”. Wikimedia’s reluctance to detail the restricted grant, from the Knight Foundation, was a …

  1. RISC OS

    I guess it is required...

    The search on wikipedia is awful

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: I guess it is required...

      The search on most sites is awful. Google make search look so easy that everyone complains about how bad Google is.

    2. GrumpenKraut

      Re: I guess it is required...

      > The search on wikipedia is awful

      May I disagree here? The WikiPedia search gives me what I want most of the time, putting it into the top 1 % league of "other" search engine, most of which are pure and utter crap.

      1. Kurt Meyer

        Re: I guess it is required...

        @ GrumpenKraut - "The WikiPedia search gives me what I want most of the time"

        I fully agree with your statement. I rarely have trouble finding the object of my searches when using the search box on a Wikipedia page.

  2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    "At least two of the six "conceptual directions for discovery", aka redesigns of the Wikipedia front page, sure look like Google-style search engines to us."

    But then the current front-page to Wikipedia is Google.

    1. Craig 2

      "But then the current front-page to Wikipedia is Google."

      Indeed. Has anyone ever typed into the address bar first, then searched for their desired article?

      When you Google the search term a nice box of info usually appears next to the results, sometimes pulled from Wikipedia.

      1. GrumpenKraut

        > Has anyone ever typed into the address bar first, then searched for their desired article?

        That's how I do it > 90 % of the time.

        1. Doctor_Wibble

          Close enough - I just type 'en' and it auto-completes in an excellently plain non-awesome way.

          The auto-suggest feature on the wikipedia search box is an extremely useful feature and has the added benefit of suggesting actual article pages, rather than just presenting the user with the most popular set of useless previously-used search terms.

          Maybe the problem is that people think that 'looking something up' in one is a matter of typing random crap that sort of describes what they are looking for and clicking on the first result provided to them by whatever default search thingy is on their phoneslab. No need to have a clue about what something is, google is my brain, I don't have to remember anything (etc)...

      2. DropBear

        "Has anyone ever typed into the address bar first, then searched for their desired article?"

        Oh, I don't need to - I just type whatever into the address bar and the wikipedia result page comes right up, since Firefox is sufficiently retarded to insist always using the search source selected in its search box for address bar searches too (and I keep that on wikipedia). It's a bit hard to fathom what the f### is the use of a dedicated search box if it will only search the exact same source as the address bar would at any given moment (instead of having the address bar stay dedicated to, say, Google and the search bar selectable)...

    2. Kurt Meyer
      Thumb Down

      @Brewster's Angle Grinder

      Not at all.

      Not ever.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I admire the Wikipedia project ideals in trying to bring free knowledge and there are lots of high quality scientific articles where folk with good understanding have gone to the trouble of sharing that information for nothing. On the other hand there is dross on there that does have questionable provenance and accuracy which does need to be weeded out.

    I hope it does get better as there are bugger all textbooks for state school kids and public libraries are closing down at a faster rate than the British Pub.

  4. David 132 Silver badge

    Missed opportunity

    They're getting a grant from the Knight Foundation and they're spending it on a search engine??

    Golden opportunity missed. I expected that "copying Google" in this case would mean a self-driving car... in the form of a black TransAm. Bah.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Missed opportunity

      "a black TransAm"

      Why on earth would anyone want to convert a vintage care into a self driver?

      1. Graham Marsden

        @John Brown (no body) Re: Missed opportunity


        Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

        The Batmobile? (At least one version)


      2. KeithR

        Re: Missed opportunity

        "Why on earth would anyone want to convert a vintage car into a self driver?"


        Knight Foundation?

        "Trans Am"?


        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Missed opportunity

          Maybe I should have used the joke icon to make it even more blindingly obvious.

  5. Crazy Operations Guy

    " project costed at $2.5m"

    How is it possible that Wikipedia goes through money so quickly? Are they burning it to heat the building? Seriously, it seems like every other week they're begging for more money...

    1. Dani Eder

      Re: " project costed at $2.5m"

      If you look at their financial reports, most of it is salary related ($25 million/year) They own $5 million in hardware, and pay $2 million/year for internet service, so the core of running Wikipedia is pretty cheap considering the user base.

  6. John Savard

    A Clear Difference

    Well, unlike Google, it's supposed to be a search engine for trustworthy information on the Internet, not just things that happen to be on the Internet.

    Although Google, by giving Wikipedia a high ranking to start with, sort of used Wikipedia to help it partially perform that function!

    Still, it sounds like they're aiming at something between what Yahoo! used to be on the one hand, and what a search engine, like AltaVista, or that upstart Google, is. Some kind of intelligent self-curating AI search engine.

  7. J__M__M

    4 easy steps

    1. provide a discussion group filter option

    2. don't ignore +'s -'s, or double quotes

    3. don't give 1 & 2 only to take away later on (for my own good or otherwise).

    4. win

  8. AlexS

    Knight foundation? Sure must be a talking car?

    1. KeithR

      "Knight foundation? Sure must be a talking car?"

      Yes, it could do that too. I'd rather it didn't...

  9. NotBob

    Wait. You're telling me that Wikipedia foundation intentionally hid what nefarious plans they had from their unsuspecting unpaid authors?

    Oh, that's actually rather true to form for them.

  10. tempemeaty

    The world needs good competition

    Google has so wrecked their search engine with paid commercial content injection not relevant to the search that I sometimes wish Magellan search was still around.

    I hope what ever happens to this effort by Wikipedia that we find it leading to a good search engine in the end.

  11. vogon00

    FFS! More Crawlers!

    Seriously, do we really need yet more 'crawler' traffic indexing the web?

    Competition is good, but how on earth do they think they can compete with the established players in search...and, what makes them think they are competant to do it anyway?

    Thinks:Hope they don't expect us to maintain the content of their index for them!

  12. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    If! They'd! Just! Wait! Five! Years! Or! So! They! Can! Buy! Yahoo! For! 2.500.000! USD!

    and build from there.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do one thing well, not 10 things badly

    The Wikimedia Foundation would do better focussing on their core mission, instead of squandering their attention and money on irrelevancies.

    Here's an idea: why don't they devote all their efforts to producing the finest possible free encyclopedia - there is a long way to go before they have got that right. Maybe then they could think about something else.

  14. Chris Evans

    Search scores of own websites

    I give:

    Wikipedia 6/10

    ebay 9/10

    HP 3/10

    Amazon 1/10

    On Amazon unless it is music or a book their search is abysmal. Searching for computer bits is dire.

    I managed to phone them up to ask what syntax/operators can be used for searching and not even a supervisor knew that you can omit red items with -red

    1. Code For Broke

      Re: Search scores of own websites

      Amazon 1/10

      A bit harsh, perhaps... but my introduction to Amazon was when they bought out back in 2001. I had been using since its exclusively telnet days and, to my mind, it epitomized the perfect merging of commerce and the 'net.

      When Amazon came along and skinned's quite simple and intuitive search and cross-referencing tools with their 1D, early-Yahoo! type search, I was flabbergasted. I wrote several (pointless) emails to the CS department at Amazon to the effect of, "How stupid are you? search actually lead me to search more, find more and buy more. Your search just frustrates me."

      Of course, as we all know now, the "Amazon Experience" would become the standard which every single ecommerce supplier tried to improve upon while simultaneously copying it.

      And Amazon search hasn't improved much since 2001. I'd give them 5/10.

  15. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    reliable and trustworthy information

    Isn't that kind of not the point of the Internet?

  16. Comets

    Wikipedia only searches for less than 50m 'articles', whereas Google has to go through a few billion websites and lets not compare and say wikipedia is better, its know, they still have not come with a way to search through their own database yet?, you can do a wiki-by-wiki search but never a general search for all the 720+ wikis..and yet they keep hiring idiots every week and using more than $30m a year on "salaries" and yet can't build in 'internal' search engine.. pathetic :/

  17. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Taxable Revenue?

    If the Search function does go head up against Google, and there is a revenue stream, will the tax situation change? Whereas Google is a "normal" multinational company engaged in "creative tax minimisation", Wikimedia Foundation is under a more favourable tax regime. Would they spin off the search operation to a separate company which then has to licence the technology from the foundation, to minimise tax?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon