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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