Wikia Search launched this week to much fanfare. The new community-based search engine from the same people behind Wikipedia intends to shake things up for Google and other major search engines by “democratizing search” – that is, delivering results based on what USERS think is important instead of a mathematical algorithm.

I like the basic concept because it’s similar to our approach – we allow users to influence the relevance of the search results implicitly by watching what they click on and this makes a huge difference to the relevance of site search.

Wikia is searching the web and is very similar to the approach taken by our sister company Eurekster with their Swiki product. The difference is Swikis are focused around particular topics and they combine explicit and implicit voting.

Wikia’s biggest challenge is firstly getting people to contribute to improve the relevance of the results and secondly getting people to use the search. I think, despite all their venture funding and the profile of their founder they will struggle to overcome these challenges.

Chris Sherman was fairly scathing of Wikia in an article on Search Engine Land yesterday: “yet another crappy search service…”. I tend to agree even though I like the basic concept.