Monday, February 15, 2016

#Wikimedia #search - it #sucks

The Knight Foundation gave a grant to the Wikimedia Foundation to improve search spectacularly. It is well deserved because never mind how much it has already improved, it sucks. Search sucks anyway, care to find all the winners of the Knight Innovation award?

The point of search is that by just crawling the Internet you do not necessarily find what you are looking for and additionally you may not find it in your language. There are many things that are relatively easy to improve but it starts with one premise. We accept that better search is of a paramount importance.

The Knight Foundation gave a grant to improve search. The problem is one of politics. Talking heads in the community insist that they (on behalf of the community?) have to be consulted on such big things. The problem is that this is not necessarily the case. In the final analysis it is the board who decides on such priorities.

Some say that the WMF takes aim at Google when it improves its search. It is used as an argument in this big free for all. It should not matter. The question is a different one, it is more fundamental. What is the WMF about and how does it best achieve results additionally what does it need to continue to serve its users best.

Our aim is to share in the sum of all knowledge and we do not even achieve this for all our available knowledge. It has been mentioned on this blog before, results from Wikidata are not available in a local project. This has a noticeable effect in any and all languages. Many notable American professors have an article in Wikipedia but not in English. A scenario like this is true in any language.

You can find them in Google but why not in our projects? Is improving this functionality aiming at Google or does it make sense? Why not recognise this as a fact and do something about it? Why not recognise that 'paard' has many meanings and disambiguate between them when you search for an illustration. Why accept that Commons is maybe good enough in English only?

I positively hate the power struggles that are going on. They distract from what is what we are about and it is serving the sum of all knowledge. I hope that the damage that is being inflicted on us will not make us all losers.

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