Yahoo! Gives Wikipedia an 8th Birthday Present

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On Wikipedia’s 8th birthday, Yahoo! announced that it would be adding a Wikipedia SearchMonkey application to all search results for US users. SearchMonkey is Yahoo!’s search engine developer platform launched last May that allows web developers to enhance search results with custom applications.

Yahoo! engineers built a new Wikipedia application for default deployment by drawing upon the best features from a number of user created applications. US searches that include a result from Wikipedia will now see the SearchMonkey enhanced entry. The app will cause Wikipedia results to include a thumbnail (if applicable), deep links to the first four sections of an article, and an excerpt from the article’s summary. Wikipedia joins Citysearch, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yahoo Local, and Zagat as the sixth SearchMonkey application turned on by default.

We wrote in October that one of the reasons Yahoo! trails Google is that their user experience is just not as good. Google results more often tend to give the searched for information directly in the SERP, without the need to click through to an outside page. Some argue giving users the answer to their search without prompting a click through is a missed monetization opportunity, but in reality, it’s just a better user experience.

SearchMonkey applications definitely enhance the user experience for many searches — Yahoo!’s Wikipedia results clearly out do Google’s now, for example — but we wonder if it is enough. Very few SearchMoney apps are turned on by default, and it is doubtful that many mainstream searchers have installed applications on their own. Most non-tech people I know have never heard of SearchMonkey.

Further, we would question the wisdom of creating applications that essentially put user created apps out of business. That isn’t the best way to nurture the growth of a developer ecosystem.

In any case, happy birthday to Wikipedia. We’ve talked in the past about just how influential Wikipedia is, and today, the rich certainly got richer. Be sure to check out our post 5 Ways to Keep Tabs on Wikipedia.

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  • MauiMan2

    “Google results more often tend to give the searched for information directly in the SERP, without the need to click through to an outside page. Some argue giving users the answer to their search without prompting a click through is a missed monetization opportunity, but in reality, it’s just a better user experience.”

    What has really happened, and I wish “web” people would realize this more is that Google, just like any other search engine, can only make really good guesses about what page(s) to send people to. Sometimes those guesses are dead-on accurate and sometimes they are just pretty close but the public has been hypnotized into erroneously thinking that Google sees all, knows all, and do no wrong. The problem that stems from this is that it has completely killed people’s willingness to explore sites Google sends them to. If Google makes a guess about which one page of a website to send a “searcher” to and the guess is not perfect the visitor tends to look at that page, not find the info they are looking for, then click the Back button to go back to the SERP without exploring the site even if the info they were looking for was only one click away. It used to be that web searchers would use a search engine to find a website and that that would then be the beginning of their journey and they would then click around and explore the site the search engine sent them to.

    Web searchers nowadays however have this crazy idea in their heads that, “If Google sends me to one page of a particular website and that one page doesn’t have the info I am looking for then there’s obviously no way on Earth that the info I am looking for could be anywhere else on this site . . . or Google would’ve known!”

    I explained this scenario to someone else who said, “Well, that shows how successful Google is if they’ve tricked everybody into thinking they are right 100% of the time! Good for Google! All hail Google!!! Google must be right even when they’re wrong!!!” If it’s success it’s certainly a warped kind of success and it may not even be what Google was trying to do but something is clearly wrong with the way people try to get information from the Net at this stage of the game.

    BTW, quite often other search engines make guesses that are as good or better than Google, but nobody wants to admit that.

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @MauiMan2: I didn’t mean to imply that Google was right 100% of the time — of course they’re not. What I was specifically referring to were things like Google’s built in calculator. Where a search for something like [how many cups in an ouce?] will return “1 US fluid ounce = 0.125 US cups” in big bold letters at the top. That sort of thing isn’t monetizable, but it gives users a better experience.

  • MauiMan2

    I didn’t mean to imply that Google was right 100% of the time — of course they’re not.

    I know that and you know that. I just made a tangential comment that non-web people don’t know that. Everything you’ve said is fine.