We know we featured Ask Jeeves last week but it does appear they are trying hard to be pro-active in changing the way we use the internet. Looking to take more ground in the search engine sector against Google, Bing and Yahoo, Ask Jeeves have launched a new public beta, which combines technology and human insight to provide more personalised responses.
That’s nothing massively ground-breaking though. This old hack fondly remembers gaining essential internet experience in the late 1990s working for the now defunct UKPlus search engine. In the days when content portals Yahoo, Lycos and Excite dominated the search options too, UKPlus a division of the Daily Mail group offered a family friendly search directory where every entry was reviewed and written by a journalist. As the internet expanded at a pace even our growing over-worked band of reviewers couldn’t cope with, so the project ended and the Googles of this world took over – robots and clever SEO driving the way we found sites relevant to our needs.
Yet, this latest move by Ask appears to be a move back towards that personal touch while staying with the technology benefits. By picking ‘experts’ from their own user-base to offer these human insights Ask is effectively asking those who use it most to help improve its search tool. The Beta is by invite only but, if Ask.com can attract only a tiny percentage of their existing community drawn from 87 million monthly uniques, then there will be plenty of experts on offer. It may also attract new users over looking for something different from the modern computer driven responses. Perhaps best described as a more considered and moderated version of sites like Yahoo Answers mixed with the existing Ask offering. Ask are marketing it on the “capability to pose questions to real people…for those complex, subjective and/or time-sensitive queries that, no matter how advanced, computers simply can’t address.”.
It will be interesting to see how it works in practice.
Do you think human input can ever rival clever technology generated search results?