Wikia Search, a community-led search engine, is now closed after a 15 month stint, citing a difficult economy.

Jimmy Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia, announced the end of the search tool in his personal blog.

While I personally believe in the opportunity for free software to make serious inroads into the search space, our project, Wikia Search, has not been enjoying the kind of success that we had hoped, Jimbo wrote.

Many users and members of Wikia Search are left wondering about the real reason behind the end of the search engine, as evidenced in replies to the original blog.

It is a little disheartening to know the future of Wikia Search, replied “Rajesh”, a sales and marketing professional from India.

So sad: we at the free software movement must have something to give freedom to search engine users, another reply read.

According to Nielsen, Wikia Search has been one of the fastest growing community destinations, reaching 3.76 million members in February 2009. The Wikia Search engine was based on the same concept as Wikipedia, which has become the 7th most visited website in the world, but that was not enough to deter Wales from shutting down the operation.

We will be closing the doors on the Wikia Search project (as of March 31, 2009), Wales wrote.

Writing on his blog, he argued that the collapsing economy has dealt a fatal blow to his ambitions for Wikia Search. In a different economy, we would continue to fund Wikia Search indefinitely. It’s something I care about deeply.

Followers of the search engine believes that the reason behind the closing of Wikia was just all about marketing issues.

May I suggest that the problem is merely one of marketing, Martin replied. That’s just a marketing issue, Thilo also replied in the blog post from Jimbo

Meanwhile, Jimbo, promised that while Wikia Search is down, it may yet return one day, I will return to again and again in my career to search, either as an investor, a contributor, a donor, or a cheerleader.

Resources used on Wikia Search will be redirected on other properties with the main focus being on Wikianswers will be re-directing and refocusing resources on other properties, especially on Wikianswers, Jimbo wrote.