05 April 2006

After Wikia, Qwika: the Wiki Search Engine

The last time I wrote about Qwika, it seemed to be a solution in search of a problem. A recent press release suggests that it's managed to come up with an answer to that conundrum: Qwika has turned into a dedicated wiki search engine.

At first sight, you might think that's rather redundant. After all, wikis are essentially just Web pages, and one or two search engine companies seem to have that sector sorted out. But if you only want to look in wikis, and don't want the other million hits on ordinary Web pages that common words throw up, a dedicated wiki search engine makes sense.

Moreover, wikis do have some special characteristics, as Qwika's Luke Metcalfe explained to me:

[W]ikis are quite different to html documents - they have a good amount of metadata associated with them - edit histories, user information, and data embedded within the WikiMedia format. They conform also [to] a certain writing style, which makes things easier to parse from a computational linguistic perspective. Other search engines are only interested in them as html documents with links pointing to them, so they miss out on a lot.

It's early days yet - both for Qwika and the wikis it indexes (1,158 at the time of writing). But recent moves like Wales' Wikia relaunch, which I wrote about the other day, mean that the wiki space is starting to hot up.

So, in the "One to Watch" category, to Wikia, add Qwika.

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