In case you haven't been following it, here's the story on Jimmy Wales's wiki startup, Wikia:
1. Wikia was founded as a Wiki farm where people could start wikis on any topic. The tagline: "building communities". Good stuff. Wikipedia gurus were recruited into the ranks, people who knew how to nurture the fragile wiki stalks into fullgrown gardens.
2. This year Wikia's been attempting to build "human-powered search". Wikia search is apparently launching soon.
Maybe it's my rust belt location talking, but step #2 seems like bubble fever. Wikia is thinking much too big. Like, several orders of magnitude too big. Where's the business sense? This commenter says it well:
Google could add a human factor into pagerank in like 5 seconds. They’ve already started with ratings.
Wikia’s success rests on Wikipedia and the reputation only. They are technically inferior to Google by several orders of magnitude, and this is closed source. The collective knoledge that made mediawiki great is not included.
Of course, Wikia is great at building communities, which Google is terrible at. (Hence my low expectations for Knol.) How much less would it have cost to hire away Mahalo's graphic designer?