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Yahoo! Search Providing Support to Wikipedia 130

Jamesday writes "Yahoo! Search will also be providing support for Wikipedia. Discussions, started at the same time as the aforementioned Google announcement, have been ongoing with both Yahoo! and Google but only the Google news leaked. It's now more clear why Wikipedia said there was no need to worry about undue influence from any single sponsor."
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Yahoo! Search Providing Support to Wikipedia

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  • by tquinlan ( 868483 ) <tom@th o m a s q> on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:38AM (#12165802) Homepage
    While Yahoo! and Google may be competitors, the two of them often do collaborate, with Yahoo! even using Google to do their searches. I don't know if I'm entirely comfortable with a caveat about "not worrying about undue influence from any one vendor" when the other 'opposing' influence is in the game for the same reason and has a history of working with is 'competitor'.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yahoo! stopped using Google for searches last year, exactly because Google started becoming a significant competitor.
    • Yahoo! uses Google to do their searching? I doubt it.
      Yahoo! search for `xyzzy' []
      Google search for `xyzzy' []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      However Yahoo! has stopped using Google recently. They redid their search engine in order to present better competition. I remember they had a large amount of press releases about them dropping Google last year.
    • I don't see how a vendor can influence a Wiki any more easily than it can influence the market. It strikes me that you would have to fundamentally alter the way Wikipedia works for any such influence to make even a slight difference.

      Of course, I might be overlooking something. How do you suggest the vendor might influence Wikipedia? What could a similar site do to prevent such influence?
      • by BlueTooth ( 102363 ) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:52AM (#12165957) Homepage
        Both Google and Yahoo! are supporting Wikipedia by providing hosting. Let's take a look at how a plain old hosting provider may influence its customers: []

        Note in particular:
        Other Activities -- Engaging in activities, whether lawful or unlawful, that Verio determines to be harmful to its subscribers, operations, reputation, goodwill, or customer relations.

        Since Yahoo and Google are donating hosting, you could argue that they might hold even greater influence over Wikipedia (i.e. we're giving this to you for free so you have to play by all our rules).

        I assume that Wikipedia's position is that since they will diversify across several donors, if one becomes too restrictive, the content in question could be moved to services provided by a different donnor.

        For example, if Wikipedia had an article which put Google's search technology in a better light than Yahoo!, then Yahoo! might not want to have a part in hosting those articles. But because Wikipedia gets hosting donated from multiple sources, it could just move the offending material to a host not provided by Yahoo!
        • Except, of course, by publishing Wikipedia's content, they're bound by Wikipedia's license, unless they wanted to get slapped with several hundred thousand counts of copyright infringement.

          Take off the tin foil hat.

          • Show me where in the liscense it says that once you publish Wikipedia content that you have to make that content available indefinetaly. The problem isn't that they will make unauthorized changes to the content, the problem is that Wikipedia doesn't want to become dependant on free hosting that can be pulled out from under it at the discression of the donor. At least by diversifying, they won't find themselves in a position of having a ton of web traffic and no host to serve it should one of their hosting

        • Am I legally required to include the exclamation mark every time I type Yahoo? Doing so makes me feel like, well, a yahoo.

          Why do I get 7 seperate cookies (promptly deleted) plopped onto my computer every time I visit Yahoogroups?
          • Its up to you...I don't really know why I wrote it with the bang in my post...i'm usually prety inconsitent about that (and other things like spelling, capitalizing I when writing informally online, etc.)

            Here's an amusing read on the subject of how to write these names (Yahoo! E*Trade Macy*s et al)

      • There are many sorts of influence. I think that the most obvious one (that over the content of articles, especially those directly concerning a sponsor) is the least likely, because it would be relatively easy to spot and fix.

        What worries me is that both sponsors are in the same business; that of providing access to information. And I think that's where a more insidious type of influence might lie. What if, for example, Google got to see new articles immediately, but the rest of us had to wait for a fe

        • > What if, for example, Google got to
          > see new articles immediately, but the
          > rest of us had to wait for a few
          > minutes, or even hours?

          I don't see why this is a problem. In the printing press era, sponsors get to see the completed work months before the rest of the world does. Is it that terrible when they get, say, a day? How is this different from a moderated newsgroup, where the "powers that be" get to individually examine and approve every message before the subscribers?
          • It would mean that, for example, pages that are vandalised would remain so for at least that period of time. It would also slow down the editing process drastically -- and as it's that process which makes Wikipedia what it is and is responsible for its phenomenal growth, such a slowdown would pretty much emasculate it.
            • Edited pages are very different from *new* pages. I think it's pretty obvious to everyone involved that withholding edits to existing pages has the problems you describe, and that any such request is effectively a demand that Wikipedia stop working. But why would it be a problem for Yahoo or Google to withhold a *new* page for some time? Don't they already get a guaranteed first crack at indexing edited content, just because it's on their servers?
              • It isn't currently on their servers. When some requests are being served on the equipment donated, they won't be getting first crack at new versions or indexing because of the server location. They might, if located at the same data center, get faster ping times. Neither Google, Yahoo nor any other sponsor will be saying that we have to withhold something so they get first look.
                • > served on the equipment donated

                  So if I understand this correctly, Yahoo and Google are not donating the use of equipment at their own data centers, they're donating hardware that Wikipedia will install and integrate at a data center of their choice.

                  This seems to present EVEN LESS of a problem. I can see how Google or Yahoo might be in an unfair bargaining position if they had their own MIS people standing over the server and saying "do what we say or we unplug it", but if they don't, aren't they in p
    • The latest issue of Wired had a slightly diffrent opinion. They pointed out that Google and Yahoo have diffrent buisness models (ad revenue vs. subscription services) and have collaborated in the past. They both have influence, but they don't have identical views. And besides, they are just running support for page searchs (something they already do on a smaller scale anyway).
    • I see that Google is more likely to use Yahoo! services since Yahoo! has got couple of pretty specific ones. For example I use [] quite a lot, but prefer to do so via Google search. It wasn't even more than a couple of months ago when Google upgraded it's interface for stock quote search and now mirrors a lot more information from Yahoo! I guess it's a good thing since I've got the uncluttered interface of Google and the in-depth finance service of Yahoo! both in the same package.
    • While Yahoo! and Google may be competitors, the two of them often do collaborate, with Yahoo! even using Google to do their searches.

      Yes, it seems to be a mutual collaboration too, I recall Yahoo! took the DomainKey [] initiative, and Gmail soon followed, so it's not limited to searches.
    • Uh, it's been a while since that was true...
  • by k3v1n ( 262210 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:41AM (#12165833) Homepage
    It certainly seems like Yahoo! is turning back around, hot on Google's heals. With Yahoo 360 [], Flickr, and their developer tools [], it seems like they are becoming relevant (again.)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree, and I'm pleased to see it. Frankly I'm tired of seeing a story posted on slashdot for any little thing that comes out of google.
    • by jm92956n ( 758515 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:00PM (#12166036) Journal
      The Guardian recently published an article [] that claims Google has "jumped the shark." The author's contention is that Yahoo! has caught up to Google in nearly aspect, and have surpassed them in several areas.
      • So, the competition catches up.. that makes Google not as good any more?

        That doesn't really make any sense.
      • by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:37PM (#12166434) Journal
        The author's contention is that Yahoo! has caught up to Google in nearly aspect, and have surpassed them in several areas.

        I read that article.
        1. Says yahoo mail has the same 1gb space. Now gmail has 2, and even if it didn't, gmail is better
        2. Says yahoo maps is better because it has live traffic. I tried it out, and got the same map image with or without the traffic indicator. So i guess i had bad luck
        3. Developer tools. I don't use them so i don't know if yahoo's are better
        4. Yahoo has movie search. But IIRC, google announced that too some days ago
        5. Better research labs. Yes, yahoo seems to announce researchers and lets you download papers. It has yet to be seen if the stuff they can cook up with is better than google's. So far, i like google maps better and google suggest
        6. Search is still google's strength. I went to the yagoohoogle site, and searched for itself. Guess which search was better? Google's number 1 link was yagoohoogle, yahoo was some weird site talking about it
    • The main reason I'm excited about Yahoo's recent surge of activity and announcements is that it will up the ante for Google and increase competition between the two companies. C'mon, Google, look at Yahoo! Redouble your efforts!
    • by JaF893 ( 745419 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:19PM (#12166238) Journal
      Yahoo's Q4 2004 profits: $373,000,000
      Google's Q4 2004 profits: $399,000,000
      Hardly a vast difference, the thing that people forget is that while google may perhaps be technologically superior its profits aren't that much greater.
  • good news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kebes ( 861706 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:43AM (#12165860) Journal
    Wikipedia is great, IMHO. The main thing holding back really is hardware. It often runs too slowly and in particular using wikipedia's built-in search often returns a "server is overloaded" response. (I guess that's why I always use Google to search for the correct wikipedia page.)

    That's why I think these deals are a good thing. If companies are willing to donate bandwidth and server storage to wikipedia, that will help the project quite a bit. Of course, we are all concerned about wikipedia being corrupted by companies, and something awful happening to the whole project. I, for one, think wikimedia is smart enough and dedicated enough to avoid this. And even if they arn't, let's all remember that the whole *point* of wikimedia releasing everything under commons licensing is that *no one* (not even wikimedia) can lock the content away or commercialize it. If wikimedia starts becoming evil, someone can (and will) fork the project and re-release the entire thing.
    • Re:good news (Score:2, Interesting)

      by slapout ( 93640 )
      If wikimedia starts becoming evil, someone can (and will) fork the project and re-release the entire thing.

      I certainly hope so. Remember what happened to CDDB (aka Gracenote)? And to a lesser extent IMDB.
      • Re:good news (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gowen ( 141411 )
        But those were possible because the (lack of) license / copyright on the information enabled the guardians of that information to make a succesful "Knowledge Grab"
    • Re:good news (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:01PM (#12166038) Homepage
      The main thing holding back really is hardware. It often runs too slowly. . .

      I has been a hell of a lot better in that last few weeks. Wikipedia's one fault, in the past, was just what you mention above, however it no longer seems to be an issue.

      Of course, we are all concerned about wikipedia being corrupted by companies, and something awful happening to the whole project.

      I know you refute this point I quote, however it bears further discussion. The very nature of Wikipedia fights corruption. The content is created dynamically such that any 'influence' over the content would have to be universal. Thus, I worry not.
      • The very nature of Wikipedia fights corruption. The content is created dynamically such that any 'influence' over the content would have to be universal. Thus, I worry not.

        Wikipedia tends toward very goodness over time. Certain subject areas may be corrupted for certain amounts of time while the overall quality improves. As with anything, independent verification is required for a non-trivial level of trust.

    • This is a random idea i had that probably has a lot of flaws, but since most of the information on Wikipedia is available by doing web searches (say, a search for the middle ages), it would be neat if someone like google or yahoo just started having "peer approved" searches, where people certify certain sites as having accurate factual data, such as or whatever for example. Since Google and Yahoo are already pretty good at getting sites with "real information" to the top (a search for "presi
    • One little correction:

      Wikimedia isn't licensing or releasing under any license. The authors are licensing and releasing to Wikimedia (and everyone else).

      The difference doesn't seem that great until you consider who can change the license (not Wikimedia), who can send takedown notices (not Wikimedia) and who can republish their work under non-GFDL licenses elsewhere (not Wikimedia). As one of the authors I've done things like granting other licenses to other people for my work, something Wikimedia just c

  • No Worries... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <shadow.wrought@g ... om minus painter> on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:45AM (#12165880) Homepage Journal
    The way that Wikipedia is set up, with the constant editing of its pages, I'm not concerned about in the least about what influence Google or Yahoo! might have. Wikipedia started without them, and there is no reason why, if the worse case scenarios happen, that another collaborative encyclopedia cannot be started. It simply too good of an idea to succumb that easily.
  • Bad trend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:46AM (#12165891)
    "The shortcuts will show contextually relevant abstracts of Wikipedia ( [] articles in response to user queries."

    Meaning that people will search for something, be present with an encyclopedia (which isn't) by the search engine, then take what it says to be correct as if it had been fact-checked. There are just too many errors in Wikipedia for it be turning up when students search for things on the internet.
    • Re:Bad trend (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c0p0n ( 770852 )
      sure, because any other free resource on the internet is more trustworthy than the wipiedia you mean?
    • ... as opposed to the thousands of unchecked-yet-presented-as-factual search results for students to find?
      • Re:Bad trend (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        There were plenty of primary sources on the Internet for various things. I've written a couple of papers that used Internet sources - because they were direct copies of primary sources.

        Unfortunately Wikipedia has effectively drowned most of them out.
        • Give me an example. Wikipedia tends to put really good references in an 'external links' section. If you can point to a place where there was once a really good primary source on the internet that's now drowned out by the sixty copies of Wikipedia showing up on Google---and which isn't prominently linked to from the article---I'll be very, very impressed.

          --grendel drago
    • While I agree with you in concept... Any reasonable students should KNOW that internet sources are frowned upon as accurate measures of information, unless that internet source can be independently verified. This is the very reason why academic search engines are available that only search approved information such as peer reviewed journals.
    • Boy, didn't your momma ever tell you not to trust everything you read on the internet.
    • I think the number one best thing about the Internet in research is the fact that it makes people not believe the first thing they read or hear about a subject.

      Back in "the olden days," if I'm interested in a subject and I look it up somewhere, I'm likely to believe 100% of what I read, regardless of how accurate it is (both factually correct and representative).

      Nowadays people are accustomed to seeing crap, and therefore being skeptical of it. If I search Google for some topic and I find a dozen web site
    • There are just too many errors in Wikipedia for it be turning up when students search for things on the internet.

      There are just too many errors in World Book Encyclopedia for it be turning up when students search for things in the library.

  • Wikipedia Editor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:54AM (#12165974)

    "Editor which supports Wikipedia Syntax.
    * Wikipedia templates (Ctrl+SPACE)
    * HTML preview rendering
    * export wizard for generating HTML files
    * open a Wikipedia link with right mouse click and selecting "Open Wiki link"
    * HTML pages can be configured with velocity templates
    * update from a Wikipedia page (right mouse click in the editor)
    * HTTP GET Queries from selected editor texts (right mouse click in the editor)

    Changes: * a new context-menu item in the editor for creating all files for a given category [1] * a first Export Wizard to convert Wikipedia articles into a single PDF file. [2]

    [1] pedia_Editor:Download_a_Wikipedia_Article%23Grabbi ng_a_Category []

    [2] pedia_Editor:Export_to_PDF_File []" ails.jsp?id=913 []

  • Lets hope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bicho ( 144895 )
    Wikipedia will not turn into the object of spammers and so.

    I see hard times coming.
    • its not as if theyre being sponsored by hotmail, aol and that nigerian bloke who keeps trying to get me to give him money.
    • Wikipedia's already been the target of spammers; the admins will just have to do a great job of watching over their data segments. It might eventually lead to a more secure submitting system (probably using human verification by image, like most places).
    • Our anti-spam technology is implemented with wetware (you know, the stuff between the keyboard and the chair). Spammers try to get us all the time; they don't usually succeed for very long at all.
  • It's now more clear why Wikipedia said there was no need to worry about undue influence from any single sponsor.
    Great now I will have to worry about undue influence by two sponsors against wikipedia. It was bad enough worrying about the undue pressures and influence against wikipedia everyday by thousands of insidious individuals.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    let the race to altruism begin.
  • by ceeam ( 39911 )
    Some URLs for those who don't know yet:

    Yahoo Search! []
    Clusty []
    MSN Search []

    Check them out when/if having problems with Google. Second one looks especially interesting. Third one is the best for warez and stuff (amazingly).

    Now if we've had an alternative to
  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:22PM (#12166272) Homepage
    <jwales> In the interest of full disclosure I should add that Google
    gave me a pen that lights up.
    <jwales> When I saw that, I was like "oooh, pen!" and then I was soooo
    mesmerized that I signed over the rights to everything. ha ha.

    (actual quote, on IRC. It's funny; laugh.)
  • by Douglas Simmons ( 628988 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:24PM (#12166301) Homepage
    Teachers in particular have frequently demanded that students not use the web as sources because "anyone could write anything" and not be held accountable. However, with Wiki, while people can indeed write anything, everything is subjected to heavy scrutiny by the God-knows-how-many visitors to the site. Errors get corrected, definitions expand and over time the site gets more traffic and its content accelerates exponentially to perfection, or at least to the accuracy of a two-shelf encyclopedia (except up to date).

    With Yahoo joining the club, the site obviously will get a tremendous boost in the aforementioned correlation of increased visitors producing increased accuracy. Also, with the Yahoo deal, and with other dynamic visitor-updated info sites like blogs being taken more seriously by the mainstream media, you can expect other high rolling companies to follow Yahoo's lead.

    By the way, when I'm looking for an answer to any question that requires human interpretation to my query, I use ask-it-here []. While I'm being informative, here's a link [] to a Firefox extension that lets you (I think by means of a right click) look up a word quickly on a number of sites including Wiki.

    • However, with Wiki, while people can indeed write anything, everything is subjected to heavy scrutiny by the God-knows-how-many visitors to the site.

      Yep, that's true, BUT: this is only an accurate statement when integrated over time. At any given moment, it's quite possible the article has just been "spammed" or somehow defaced, either maliciously or inadvertently. You see, since the most-recently-edited version is available the moment the edit has been made, it takes some time before a damaged page gets

  • entry [] they never liked it in there to begin with even with all the warnings.
  • Too many links. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AyeRoxor! ( 471669 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:05PM (#12166717) Journal
    Sometimes [], too [] many [] links [] can [] obfuscate [] important [] content [] instead [] of [] helping [] to [] direct [] interested [] parties [] to [] it [].
    • You know, over on Wikipedia, we call that Slashdot Style. (But seriously, see the Manual of Style [] on the subject of links.) Articles frequently get overlinked, and linked on the wrong things because there's a certain level of blue one gets used to seeing, and the naive user will wikify things until that level is reached, regardless if it reads like "and in the finale, [[Darth Vader]] is [[surprise|revealed]] to be [[Luke Skywalker]]'s long-lost [[father]]". (Which should really have two links in it, not fou
  • Yahoo and Spam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by augustz ( 18082 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:28PM (#12166962) Homepage
    It's worth remembering what type of companies yahoo and google are.

    Yahoo you will remember pulled a fast one and ENABLED every single newsletter and other junk mail type preference automatically, even if when you signed up you specifically said you didn't want to receive junk mail. 3235&tid=111 []

    In other words, if Yahoo thinks they can get away with it, they will screw their users.

    I havn't gotten that same sense with google yet. They havn't pulled a fast one, tried to lock up my gmail emails or any of the other stunts.

    That counts for a lot with me. I just don't have time to work out what stunt Yahoo is going to pull next.

  • Size of Wiki (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you look at the wikipedia database image download page [] you'll see that the text of the current English wiki is about 540Mb. I'm quite impressed that so much information can still fit onto a CD and even more impressed anyone with bandwith to spare can nab a copy. Yes you need a local MediaWiki server to do anything useful with the database but that and the support software are open-sourced and so that's not a problem either.

    A full multilingual database history image is about 50GB (only half of which is E
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been using Wikipedia heavily (as an article author), and occasionally have to search through Wikipedia to find related content, remove duplicate articles, etc. and have had the opportunity to compare Yahoo search to Google search for this purpose. One surprise result:
    the Yahoo indexes are *MUCH* better than Google. Being a committed lifelong Google fan, this surprised me. But, as they say, "competition is good". May the competition begin!
  • I know this is necessary. I know the server admins have been worked far beyond their level of volunteer competence, reduced to whining that they're not being paid, so why would the users expect silly things like more than fifty percent uptime?

    And now we have corporate sponsorship. It's inherently tainted, and it's insane to think it's not, simply because the sponsors can pull out and leave the project high and dry. What happens when Yahoo!'s CEO is discovered to be a baby-eating monster, or Sergey Brin is
    • There are regions of the world where individual philanthropists and companies are the main sponsors of libraries and other knowledge repositories. However, there are many more regions where dedicated non-profit orgs and governments pick up that burden. A combination of those three with the growing cultural more of information acessibility, should suffice to avoid your hypothetical peanut-flavoured doom.

      (But what do you have against Terry Semel?)

    • If those scenarios happen we'll do what we are doing anyway, to balance things: ask for donations from the public. Last time we cut the fund drive early after exceeding our $75,000 target by some $15,000. Expect us to consciously and deliberately work to ensure that NO single party can seriously harm the sites and to recognise that donations from the general public are a key part of that prevention picture.

      At the moment the biggest single party vulnerabilty is the Wikimedia Foundation, since it owns all o

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!