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Wikimedia Foundation Received $250,000 Grant to Develop Its Own Search Engine

February 16
3:53 AM 2016

Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of Wikipedia, has received a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant, to be used to develop the service's search engine, was awarded in September but the organization had just publicized it in the past week.

Wikimedia Foundation is developing a search engine project called the Knowledge Engine. The grant is allocated to advance the project, as stated in the grant's description from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. "The grant is to be used as follows: To advance new models for finding information by supporting stage one development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet." 

SearchEngineLand revealed that the $250,000 fund they just received will be used to support an investigation of search and browsing on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. The ultimate goal of that project is to improve how people explore and acquire information, especially with the organization's services, whereas Wikipedia itself includes more than 35 million articles across hundreds of languages. In doing so, Wikimedia also seek to expand the context beyond just textual search.

With the help of the fund, the Wikimedia Foundation has already begun six months of its planned research, testing, and prototyping on user search practices on its services. The data will be used in the project development's later stages to improve discoverability across its vast information database. As for now, the project is in the discovery stage that includes an exploration of prototypes of future versions of Wikipedia.org to be more like open channels rather than an encyclopedia, as reported by The Register.

According to ABC News, the $250,000 grant covers only just a part of the total financial plan submitted by the Wikimedia Foundation. The project's budget is almost $2.5 million in total. The budget is divided among 14 staffs, hardware, and associated costs including travel and medical expenses. The Knight Foundation funding is the first that Wikimedia Foundation received.

The Wikimedia Foundation specifically claimed that they are not trying to build another Google. However, the organization acknowledges that the project's biggest risk is that other existing search engine like Google or Yahoo could also devote resources to a similar project. If that happens, Wikimedia believes that it could reduce the success of the project.

The $250,000 grant awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides seed money to begin the early stage of the Wikimedia Foundation's project. The Knowledge Engine project will transform Wikipedia.org and other Wikimedia projects to be more discoverable with a new advanced search engine being developed. 

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