Wikia heard from 700 engineers volunteering help to build the search engine — and that interest was generated from a single article by the Times of London, Gil Penchina, chief executive, told VentureBeat last week. The search engine will resemble the Wiki format of Wikipedia. The idea is to have humans lend a hand in judging what sites should appear in search results. The search engine, dubbed Wikisaria, would require thousands of administrators. Since the first Times article mention, there have been four million references online to Wikisaria, Penchina said. “People are saying we need to do this.”
As for Wikia itself, the site has seen double-digit page view growth every month over the past year, as articles get posted to popular wikis — subjects range from the diet of Klingons in Star Trek to interpretations of the Talmud by debating Rabbis.
The site will hit 500,000 articles in 45 languages and a 100 million page views this month, up from 140,000 articles and 25 million page views a year ago, says Penchina. Wikia is still hiring engineers, and spends 90 percent of its time fighting bad guys trying to fight off vandals from ruining sites, he said.
More surprising for us: Wikia’s rate card for advertising is set for $10 to $20 per thousand page views. It doesn’t get ads for all of its pages, but that’s a very high rate, given that most pages on the Web get a few cents from Google per thousand page views.
Penchina speaks with confidence about the site’s expansion. He likens his company to providing a library of books (Wiki theme sites), and the recent purchase of ArmchairGM expands into equivalent of magazines. Search, in turn, will expand Wikia even further into peoples’ lives.
He says popular online companies have sold too soon, and that Wikia won’t contemplate a sale to another company for now. “I thought the YouTube guys sold too soon. MySpace sold too early,” he says.
Related, but separate: There’s a rumor that Wiki.com, an unrelated domain sold for nearly $3 million last summer, has removed all the wikis on the site. (We don’t recall seeing what the site looked like before, but it is now closed). In any case, Wikia is making a public offer to help.
(Update: Baze, below, has link to Wikia co-founder Jimmy Wales podcast on the search engine idea)