Wikipedia Grants Users Better Search

March 24, 2016

Wikipedia is the defacto encyclopedia to confirm fact from fiction, although academic circles shun its use (however, scholars do use it but never cite it).  Wikipedia does not usually make the news, unless it is tied to its fundraising campaign or Wikileaks releases sensitive information meant to remain confidential.  The Register tells us that Wikipedia makes the news for another reason, “Reluctant Wikipedia Lifts Lid On $2.5m Internet Search Engine Project.”  Wikipedia is better associated with the cataloging and dissemination of knowledge, but in order to use that knowledge it needs to be searched.

Perhaps that is why the Wikimedia Foundation is “doing a Google” and will be investing a Knight Foundation Grant into a search-related project.  The Wikimedia Foundation finally released information about the Knight Foundation Grant, dedicated to provide funds for companies invested in innovative solutions related to information, community, media, and engagement.

“The grant provides seed money for stage one of the Knowledge Engine, described as “a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy information on the Internet”. It’s all about search and federation. The discovery stage includes an exploration of prototypes of future versions of which are “open channels” rather than an encyclopedia, analysing the query-to-content path, and embedding the Wikipedia Knowledge Engine ‘via carriers and Original Equipment Manufacturers’.”

The discovery stage will last twelve months, ending in August 2016.  The biggest risk for the search project would be if Google or Yahoo decided to invest in something similar.

What is interesting is that former Wiki worker Jimmy Wales denied the Wikimedia Foundation was working on a search engine via the Knowledge Engine.  Wales has since left and Andreas Kolbe reported in a Wikipedia Signpost article that they are building a search engine and led to believe it would be to find information spread cross the Wikipedia portals, rather it is something much more powerful.

Here is what the actual grant is funding:

“To advance new models for finding information by supporting stage one development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet.”

It sounds like a search engine that provides true and verifiable search results, which is what academic scholars have been after for years!  Wow!  Wikipedia might actually be worth a citation now.


Whitney Grace, March 24, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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