Wikia, the for-profit venture by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, announced today that it has bought Grub, the user-powered distributed Web Crawler, from Looksmart. Any further details were undisclosed, but Wales did reveal that Grub’s technology will be used as a backend to Search Wikia, their work-in-progress “transparent and open platform for search.”
Ever since the dotbomb, the Grub project has continued to exist although it has never managed to gain any major traction. The idea behind Grub is to have volunteers download the Grub client and run it as a screensaver or invisible process, as it crawls–sorry, “grubs”–through the web. The most popular crawlers get featured on the homepage, and that’s about it. See the major problem? No body cares–except those who do.
The interesting thing about the project is that with the decline of Looksmart (its parent), the project was shutdown for a while, until being restarted again with the help of “Wikia, community members, contibuters, and Open Source developers.” Wikia will now use the technology to power its own mysterious patent-pending, paradigm-shifting, user-generated (in Guy Kawasaki’s terms) search engine.
So far, Wikia has only revealed a few things about the search engine on its own wiki page. It will focus on four main components–transparency, community, quality, and privacy–and will most probably have components of both human-powered and machine-powered search.