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Wikia Search launched live Monday in its first publicly accessible form.

The search engine, backed by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, is an open source search tool that allows collaboration.

Wikipedia and Wikia operate independently and are unrelated except for Wales' involvement in each.

Wales announced plans for the project last year and said he wanted to provide an open alternative to Google (NSDQ: GOOG).

Wikia Search uses a social networking model, allowing users to create profiles, select friends, share photos, and manage privacy preferences in addition to providing traditional search capabilities. Users can click on an option to start or participate in discussions about search rankings and write mini-articles about search terms.

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