Wikia and the Future of Search
Wikia is a separate organisation from Wikimedia, concentrating on how the conversations around content can help change the future of our web searches.
I heard about it this time last year and it didn't make much sense - too early, not enough there to see why it works. I wonder if, after hearing the boss speaking about it this time around, our joint examinations of Wikia this week might prove more fruitful.
Search results are already dominated by content from conversations: blogs, Flickr images, forums and, of course, Wikepedia. The problem is the sheer quantity of content. On a search for the Muppets, Wikipedia returns 300 pages.
If you're a die-hard fan of the Muppets, though, where is the best place to go? On Wikia, we can see 15,271 articles about the Muppets, created under a framework of fans in a separate "Muppet Wiki". Its Muppet fan founder says: "This is just the beginning". In World of Warcraft, the game's creators simply don't have the manpower and expertise to document the game, so under the framework of fans in Wikia they have found a way to keep things up-to-date.
It differs from Wikipedia in the human element that has been added: a social network. To take part you have to create a Facebook-like or LinkedIn-like profile, where other users assign you trust and see whether you really are a spammer or just occasionally wrong in your edits. This, in turn, helps search become more viable, helping to push the most well-written, most admired content to the fore, not through algorithms so much as through human beings.