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Wikia Search to offer first peek next week

A public alpha of the community-driven, open-source search tool is set to launch Monday.

Wikia Search, a community-driven search engine, will get its first public preview on Monday, according to co-founder Jimmy Wales.

In an e-mail sent to the Wikia Search mailing list on December 24, Wales wrote that he aims to make the initial version of the search tool available in alpha form. "We want to run over the system with help from people to complain about what is broken," he wrote.

Wikia Search, which aims to allow people to contribute to how pages are ranked and to edit search results, will have open-source search algorithms and application program interfaces. The search platform includes the Grub search project, acquired by Wikia in July, which employs user-donated distributed processing power to crawl the Web.

Wales, who also co-founded user-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, hopes Wikia Search will eventually rival other search companies by making the way in which search results are arrived at more "transparent."

"The desire to collaborate and support a transparent and open platform for search is clearly deeply exciting to both open source and businesses," Wales said in a statement in July. "Look for other exciting announcements in the coming months as we collectively work to free the judgment of information from invisible rules inside an algorithmic black box."

Wikia Search is part of Wikia, a wiki-hosting company co-founded by Wales.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.