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By Phoebe, the Microsoft search engine, is offering "Bing Reference", a way to search "enhanced Wikipedia articles" (available under "more" from the main page of Bing). The "Reference" page initially displays a Wikipedia article corresponding to the search engine's daily wallpaper. From the reference page, users can then search pages from Wikipedia and from Freebase, which is a large collaborative knowledge base.


Natural-language searches done on the "Reference" page generate a page of thumbnailed results. Any available results from Freebase will display first, and Wikipedia articles with excerpts display below these. The Wikipedia search is based on a locally hosted copy of the article database.

If the search is for a common term that has Freebase pages in multiple categories associated with it, these pages will display as tabs across the top of the search results. For example, a search for "ship" nets Freebase pages labeled "Ship; Computer game; DS9 episode; Gifted education; Novel; Comics; 2002 film."

Wikipedia enhancements

When you click to view a full Wikipedia article, the enhancements offered include a "preview" link that displays when you hover over hyperlinks, similar to the Popups extension first developed by user:Lupin; an "article outline" box on the right-hand side that links to the sections of the article, similar to the Babaco usability experimental feature (see last issue); and a "highlighter" tool, which lets you to highlight a sentence or paragraph of an article with the mouse, then auto-generates a unique URL for that section which can be copied or saved. Additionally, a link to display thumbnails of all images in the article is provided.

Categories (including hidden maintenance categories) and cleanup tags are displayed for each article, and links to the history and original article are provided. A license notice at the end of each article states "All Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Document License or the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license or is otherwise used here in compliance with the Copyright Act," with locally hosted copies of each license linked.

At the bottom of the search results, a section entitled "Factz from Wikipedia" displays semantic links based on text-mining of Wikipedia articles. For instance, the same search for 'ship' tells us that ships "carry: crew, raids, amount, trifles, include, merchandise, points, caps, cannon; make: raids, voyage, collision, salute, stops, pass, landfall, passage and New Amsterdam; enter: ports, Mediterranean, orbit, Bay, world and Abkhazia," and much more. Each word links to the snippet of article from which the association is drawn. Whether this feature makes much sense seems to depend on the term chosen.

The Reference page features, including the semantic search, were developed by the Powerset team at Bing. Powerset was acquired by Microsoft last year.

Microsoft, which once experimented with allowing user editing on its own Encarta encyclopedia, has used Wikipedia content for its search portals before, notably as part of Live Search Health, now itself a part of Bing.

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  • I'm sorry. I typed "ship" into Bing and nothing came up but the same old references. I am sure I do not know what you are talking about. Sincerely, your friend, GeorgeLouis (talk) 01:41, 13 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • A simple {{Reflist}} appeared to be transcribed correctly but more complicated Reflists get the Bing rendering of "Cite error: Invalid <references> tag; no input is allowed. Use <references />". (Try clicking on a citation link to see the problem.) I saw this on Bing's version of scientific method, which works correctly in the Wikipedia original. There isn't a talk page in the Bing version to point out the message, so I put it in the general mailbox at the top page of the Bing site, which is probably being overwhelmed right now. One clue might be that I recently converted the footnotes in the article to the new system described in Help:Footnotes#List-defined_references --Ancheta Wis (talk) 09:14, 13 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • interesting -- the new method is made possible by a cite.php hack, and it's apparently breaking whatever script they use to render the articles. I wonder if that's true for other reusers, as well. Something to test/consider possibly before converting articles on a large scale. -- phoebe / (talk to me) 16:20, 13 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • I initiated a test using the scientific method article to check whether the footnotes are getting updated in new Bing enhanced views of the article; thus far, changes to this article have not yet propagated to the Bing enhanced view, thirty-six hours after a change to the Wikipedia source article. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 03:40, 17 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]
    • The Bing version has updated to the current version of the article from Wikipedia as of 18:46, 23 October 2009 (UTC). By the tenets of the method of the article, it appears that the Reflist macro used by Bing does not currently accept the additional argument used in Cite.php to localize the citation information in the article. But at least Bing now renders the article footnotes for its readers. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:53, 23 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]


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