January 16, 2007 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Wikiseek. A better way to search Wikipedia.
posted by allkindsoftime (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For me, the easiest way to search Wikipedia is adding "" to a Google query.
posted by knave at 1:10 PM on January 16, 2007

Why not just use the wikipedia search option in Firefox? I just searched for "Qualia" from my firefox searchbar and was taken directly to the relevant wikipedia article. When I used wikiseek I was taken to a page with a link to the relevant article. Methinks firefox is still "the better way..."
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2007

It does more than that. It also returns sites that are linked to by Wikipedia which presumably are "trusted" sites.
posted by vacapinta at 1:16 PM on January 16, 2007

I add Wikipedia to the search string on Google and it invariably comes out on top.
posted by smackfu at 1:16 PM on January 16, 2007

I type[Search Term] into my address bar so I am smarter than all you guys!
posted by vacapinta at 1:20 PM on January 16, 2007

This is better than the big search box on the front page of Wikipedia how?

If I type "apple" into Wikipedia's search box and hit "Go," I go directly to an article about apples, with links at the top of the page to articles about Apple, Inc. and Apple Records. If I type "apple" and hit "Search," I get 25,276 articles, sorted by relevance.

If I type "apple" into Wikiseek, I get exactly 2 Wikipedia article results; the page about apples and a page about the Apple Records vs. Apple, Inc. lawsuit. I also get a kajillion random web results. (The #2 result is a giant single-image ad page for Herrljunga Swedish Cider; Apple, Inc.'s phone contact page is #5.) Oh, and of course, a long column of Google AdSense ads.

Simply typing "Apple" into Google gives me Apple, Inc.'s website as the first result, and the corresponding Wikipedia article as #8.
posted by designbot at 1:32 PM on January 16, 2007

It also returns sites that are linked to by Wikipedia which presumably are "trusted" sites.

Presumably. Since when did they stop teaching students that referencing websites was a bad idea? Since when did we assume anything Wikipedia links to is trustworthy?
posted by Jimbob at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2007

posted by blastrid at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2007

I use Qwika which has a few more options and a bit longer in the tooth.
posted by stbalbach at 1:39 PM on January 16, 2007

This is how you do it.

Firefox > about:config > keyword.URL >

This makes firefox do a wikipedia search with whatever non-url term you type in the address bar. It's my favorite firefox hack.
posted by mullingitover at 1:42 PM on January 16, 2007 [4 favorites]

what makes this site great is all the adsense links.
posted by localhuman at 1:43 PM on January 16, 2007

I use Slim Search and put virtually no effort into research. The sixth-grade me sitting in front of an Encyclopedia Britannica trying desperately not to plagiarize for his report on Henry Clay is sooo jealous.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:48 PM on January 16, 2007

Wikiseek: a critique
-most wikiusers would prefer not to see adsense links when searching for information
-most wikiusers don't care how many savvy web 2.0 users have 'dugg' the website
-calling a site " BETA", and by doing so inferring that some important bugs will be fixed and improvements will be soon implemented is lame.
posted by localhuman at 1:51 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is lame. I'll agree that Wikipedia's own search function sucks unless you know exactly what you're looking for; but like Knave, I just plug "" (the "en." prefix isn't necessary) into Google. It works fine, and keeps my searching consolidated. I don't need 40 different search engines.

On the other hand, it is kinda funny that they're basically mimicking one of Google's functions, trying to get people to use this instead of Google, and then trying to make it profitable using Google's AdSense.
posted by cribcage at 1:52 PM on January 16, 2007

I use a variant of Mullingitover's method; a right-click in a search bar in Firefox will give you the option "Add a keyword for this search". Now, if I want to search Wikipedia, I type "w [search term]" into the address bar. "g" does a Google search, "d", "m", "b" a Google book search, etc. Really speeds things up.
posted by Paragon at 1:55 PM on January 16, 2007

(the "en." prefix isn't necessary)

Unless you want to eliminate results in languages other than English.
posted by grouse at 1:56 PM on January 16, 2007

That's its function; but in my experience, it isn't necessary. If your search terms are in English, then Google will return results from the English version of Wikipedia; and if you get any results from other versions, they'll be buried at the bottom.
posted by cribcage at 2:01 PM on January 16, 2007

Drag this link to your toolbar. It will either search the currently selected text, or if none is, show you a search a box.

Also, the "Did You Mean?" does a much better job of finding appropriate articles than Wikipedia, or this Wikiseek adfarm.
posted by cillit bang at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2007

A google/yahoo search on 'wiki [query]' gets you the english lang wikipedia page corresponding to your query in the top 5 results 98 out of 100 times, with pretty minimal typing (no need for all that 'pedia messing about or that pesky .org). A simple test suggests this technique works better that this new search thing.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:55 PM on January 16, 2007

This is better than the big search box on the front page of Wikipedia how?

Its pretty unforgiving for misspelled words or if you don't know exactly what you are looking for. I'd rather google donate a software and hardware to bring it up to web search standards than go through another middleman.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:04 PM on January 16, 2007

As regards firefox,

Doesn't it come "out of the box" with 'wp' as the keyword for wikipedia searches?

I just type "wp search_term" into the address bar and up pops the page.
posted by knapah at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2007


Thanks! Like the tag cloud ... like to browse subject areas w/WP and this is a new way ... and the external links with the details and without having to scroll to pagebottom.

Far superior to WP search and better than Google. In addition Wikiseek is easy to add to the Firefox Searchengines bar.
posted by Twang at 3:10 PM on January 16, 2007

Its pretty unforgiving for misspelled words or if you don't know exactly what you are looking for.

This is better than the big search box on the front page of Wikipedia how?
posted by designbot at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2007

How exactly is it a "better" way to search wikipedia?

Almost all the time I want information about something, I can type it into the address bar as If that doesn't work I'll google.

nine times out of ten, a wikipedia article will come up on the top search results on google, even without adding "wikipedia" to the search query.

That said, wikipedia's internal search sucks balls, and it never did me any good, not once. If this thing works out better, then great. And yeah the ad sense is a little annoying, but most users won't even notice that. It will be interesting to see if this things Alexia rank in a month.
posted by delmoi at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2007

I just type "wp search_term" into the address bar and up pops the page.

So it does. Thanks!
posted by delmoi at 3:43 PM on January 16, 2007

But not as good as

I still say that you can't call yourself a great search engine if you require that kind of arcane knowledge of "Google-fu" from your users. The onus is on the designer, not the user; that's not a sign of a good search engine, that's just poor design.
posted by jefgodesky at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2007

Paragon's method is the one that I favor. Although the "I'm feeling lucky" variant, less work than it looks, is using the address bar history, typing "en", cursoring to a wikipedia url, and backspacing to /wiki/ then typing in your term.

I swear it seems easier to me, but I can type 80wpm -- faster than I can move to my mouse and click.

In any case, anything is better and more flexible than the built-in Wikipedia search bar. The Foundation does not, to say the least, have the server farm resources that Google does. Google is the best way to search (emphasis) Wikipedia.

Now, big caveat on the "trusted sites" thing. In fact, most editors expect that as the site moves into the top ten -- most probably -- in 2007, it will become an even greater target than it has been for linkspam. With that said, I think there is a Google PageRank analogue that can be derived from the Wikipedia subset alone that isn't any worse than Google's own results-spam problem. At this moment, a few Wikiseek searches seem to be reasonably good subsets of material -- CNN, Washington Post, that sort of thing, as opposed to a gazillion blog results in the top 10 or 20 just because of incestuous blog linking. So in that respect there is an improvement.

I worry in the long run about being able to game systems like this, though, and how that could affect the Wikipedia project. I doubt it would be a direct target of any spam efforts, being obscure at this point, but it would be susceptible to anything targeting Wikipedia itself unless they were to constantly adjust their own PageRank-analog algorithm.

I do think it's interesting how they separate the on-Wikipedia results from the off-Wikipedia results.
posted by dhartung at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2007

i usually just drop 'wiki whatever' in the google search bar and wikipedia pops up in the top 3 links 90% of the time.
posted by empath at 3:59 PM on January 16, 2007

For a while now, I've been using "wiki" as a prefix to something I want to find in Wikipedia. It always seems to work...isn't it an officially bit in Google function like "dict" for dictionary?
posted by tommunation at 4:13 PM on January 16, 2007

Dave's Quick Search Deskbar

wik Apples

Also supports imdb, amaz, ebay, and just about everybody else. Including, of course, gg, yh and msns, just try to guess which search engines those are :P

It also does math and it can launch applications.

And, it supports aliasing, for me that means yhmf %search term% gives me a yahoo search of metafilter, with a few tweaks.

In fact, what you really have to ask yourself is, is there anything it can't do?
posted by Chuckles at 4:29 PM on January 16, 2007

I've always wondered why wikipedia's search function is so infuriatingly useless.
posted by tehloki at 6:28 PM on January 16, 2007

A combination of typing in the search box and clicking on "Refine by category" once something close to what your looking for pops up in there seems to work very well.
posted by Artw at 6:42 PM on January 16, 2007

You can usually jump right to the appropriate article by placing the thing in question into the URL. F'rinstance, if I want to find out about foo all I have to do is type "". Actually, with modern browser's auto-complete function all I have to do is type "en" and then append the address at the end.
posted by lekvar at 7:07 PM on January 16, 2007

er... it does actually seem to do a little more than that you know.
posted by Artw at 7:51 PM on January 16, 2007

Yes, but not quickly or efficiently enough to bother with.
posted by lekvar at 8:00 PM on January 16, 2007

Wow, it found Monkey Butter on the first try.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:37 PM on January 16, 2007

Wikipedia's search is much more useful for obscure things with specific origins.. but for obscure things part of a common category, it hasn't given me any decent results.
posted by tehloki at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2007

I work there :-)
posted by darkness at 2:30 PM on January 17, 2007

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