Wikia search engine now lets users add their own results

The Wikia search engine, controversial brainchild of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, this week added groundbreaking social networking-oriented features that give Web users the ability to make adjustments to the search results others see.

After startup search engine Wikia entered alpha in January, it got drubbed by many critics, who objected to its reportedly paltry search results and failure to move much beyond the machine-generated approach of existing search engines.

Now, though, beyond allowing users to add and edit search results, users can also comment on, annotate, "spotlight," and delete entries in Wikia's search page results.

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But is Wikia ready for the proverbial primetime yet? In a quick tryout of the search engine Wednesday, BetaNews came up with mixed results.

Adding, annotating, and commenting on search results worked like a charm. So, too, did spotlighting, a way of drawing attention to a search result by adding stars to it.

The edit and delete functions didn't fare as well, however. When BetaNews tried to modify one of the entries we'd added, Wikia returned an error message.

When we deleted a pre-existing item in the search results, the entry did indeed disappear -- but then it miraculously reappeared later, after we'd logged out and logged back in to Wikia.

BetaNews also found, though, an intriguing way to influence the ranking of search results: by importing links discovered in searches on a big-name search engine. The entries we added to Wikia invariably landed on the top of the Wikia search results page -- and they still stood up there near the top, even when we logged back in.

For now, at least, Wikia seems definitely best suited to environments where users are able to trust each other. For rather obvious reasons, the delete capability wouldn't make much sense for a large corporate intranet -- especially if deleting a search result really did cause it to go away permanently.

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