Enterprise Search on Wikipedia: An Entry in Need of Attention

It’s been a while since we rallied as a community to improve the state of information retrieval entries on Wikipedia. There are 86 entries in Category:Information Retrieval, and a number of these could use some help. But the one that strikes me as most in need of attention is the Enterprise search entry.

What is so wrong with this entry? Perhaps a better question to ask is what is right with it! But I’ll summarize my objections as follows:

  • The entry is so focused on enumerating vendors that it barely even describes what enterprise search is. Yes, there is some debate about how to define enterprise search, but in that case a Wikipedia entry should “teach the controversy” as it were.
  • The classification of vendors isn’t particularly informative. I don’t see how describing a vendor as a major vendor, a specialized vendor, a superplatform, etc. helps anyone understand the technology space. For example, I cannot figure out what makes a vendor “major” in this taxonomy.
  • The entry seems to largely reflect the haphazard edits of vendors and their surrogates, rather than any principled analysis of the space.

So I’d really like to fix it! But, given my association with Endeca, I’m not sure how much I can do personally without drawing accusations of conflict of interest. Perhaps the readership here can help out. My goal here is not to create an entry that is some pro-Endeca or anti-Endeca’s competitors. In fact, I have half a mind to remove all specific vendor references, or perhaps to move them to a separate List of Enterprise Search Vendors entry. What I really want to see is an entry that helps people understand what enterprise search is.

Please chime in if you are interested in being part of this effort. I’m happy to pitch in myself, but I feel the effort has to be collaborative in order to address the understandable concerns about conflict of interest.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

7 replies on “Enterprise Search on Wikipedia: An Entry in Need of Attention”

Great initative. Personally, I think the entire vendors list should have been removed from the article. At least move i to a separate entry.

Some points to include
– description of what enterprise search is, and what it is not.
– what separates Enterprise search from desktop and web search.
– problems that one meets on the process of aquiring an enterprise search solution
– Some description of the various approches to enterpsie search such as complete out of the box solutions, enterprise search plattforms and stand alone components (aka do it yourself). Indexed security vs real time security check vs no security.
– The role of federated search is not mentioned at all in the current entry.

There are a lot of good points in the Beyond Search blog from Steve Arnold that also should be included.



I think one of the challenges is a lack of consensus on what defines enterprise search–either as a set of information seeking problems or as a set of solutions for those problems. My preference for the Wikipedia entry would be to err on the side of inclusion and to try to enumerate both.

I also think the entry should shy away from being a how-to document. It could link to notable how-to documents, but anything more is likely to reflect a strong vendor or analyst bias.


Post some sources for it here, or better yet to the talk page and it will be improved.


I got involved in this discussion by way of a Wikipedia invitation. I am not sure what I can contribute materially, being largely otherwise occupied, both on Wikipedia and elsewhere. However, I am impressed by both the attitude and the analyses of those already involved, and if there is any sort of voting, you may be assured of my support, for what it is worth. I had not previously thought in terms of external pressures on interested parties contributing to Wikipedia, and I seriously sympathise. If Wikipedia supports separate vendor lists, then it seems to me altogether reasonable and constructive to create lists for just such functions. I certainly would strongly resist including the lists in the main articles. Similarly, I strongly support the separation of articles on such functions as searching and indexing. My main reservation is that some energetic and well-informed parties already seem to be doing this. Feel welcome to rattle my cage if I am missing something obvious.


Jon, thanks for the support. Now that I’m no longer in the enterprise search industry, I’ve been quite aggressive in protecting the integrity of related Wikipedia entries. And I’ve found that it’s not hard to enforce evenhanded policies, such as restricting links to companies with Wikipedia entries — or in some cases removing them entirely.


Comments are closed.