wikipediaThe other day, it seemed that Wikipedia was reportedly going to try creating their own search engine, but today, the company has clarified its search-related intentions today.  The Wikipedia Foundation has no plans on building a search engine to compete with the likes of Google.  Rather, as stated in a blog post by two foundation executives, the Knowledge Engine project is focusing on improving search and discovery on Wikipedia projects.  A $250,000 grant has been secured by the foundation from the Knight Foundation to get the project going.

In the blog post, there is the response to numerous reports like this one from Newsweek that says that the Knowledge Engine project is an attempt to challenge Google.

Lila Tretikov, the Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director, and Wes Moran, the VP of Product, wrote that the project is going to have an internal focus.

We intend to research how Wikimedia users seek, find, and engage with content. This essential information will allow us to make critical improvements to discovery on the Wikimedia projects. And in keeping with our values, we will make our findings public, in order for the world to better understand the way we all engage with free, open knowledge.

What are we not doing? We’re not building a global crawler search engine. We’re not building another, separate Wikimedia project. We’re committed to our mission of helping the world access and interact with free knowledge.

Despite headlines, we are not trying to compete with other platforms, including Google.

A statement from Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales (who posted a similar message last week) said, “There is nothing at all about the Knight grant which is in any way related to or suggestive of a google-like

[sic] search engine.”

Understandably, the confusion comes from a description from the Knowledge Engine in the grant agreement, which asks, “Would users go to Wikipedia if it were an open channel beyond an encyclopedia?”  The wording found within the agreement made it sound as if the Knowledge Engine would be a potential Google competitor:

“Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet.”

“Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia will democratize the discovery of media, news and information – it will make the Internet’s most relevant information more accessible and openly curated, and it will create an open data engine that’s completely free of commercial interests.”

This was the wording of the project back in September in the grant agreement.  Tretikov said in an email written Monday night that the Knight Foundation grant “allows us to pursue strictly…a better Wiki search.”

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