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Ask.com's Rising Star

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the going-up dept.

128

hdtv writes "Fortune magazine takes a look at Ask.com, a site originally designed to respond to queries in human language that grew into a full-blown search engine after the Teoma acquisition. According to Fortune, Ask.com has many features not available with rivals -- topic clusters, quick facts from Wikipedia on the search page, and, (what counts most) fewer ads than any of the rivals. Currently Ask.com maintains 5.9% share, a share that Fortune is sure will grow."

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128 comments

Clusty? (2, Informative)

mdecarle (756338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461228)

Clusters and Wikipedia ... Surely you mean clusty.com [slashdot.org] right?

Re:Clusty? (1)

mdecarle (756338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461235)

Oops ... fixed link: http://clusty.com [clusty.com] .

Lack of ads counts most? (3, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461246)

I don't think anyone is really bothered by ads any more. Those that want to see ads (or don't care either way) can see them, and those that don't want to see them don't have to (AdBlock). What's the problem? This is not a big issue in my opinion.

Re:Lack of ads counts most? (4, Informative)

BluhDeBluh (805090) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461324)

Text ads are difficult to Adblock - you can Greasemonkey them, but it's hassle. On top of that, the ones on ask.com seem to be very annoying - a long list that takes half the page, so they are very difficult to ignore. I prefer Google's less prominent ones.

Re:Lack of ads counts most? (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461363)

True, text ads can be annoying to block. If only there was something like the 'AdBlock Filterset.G' for Greasemonkey (i.e. a program that can automatically install and update ad-blocking scripts for GreaseMonkey) it would solve the problem for good.

Posting this hoping some knowledgable slashdotter will reply with a link...

Re:Lack of ads counts most? (1)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462039)

There's a Firefox extension called CustomizeGoogle which offers (among many other handy features) the ability to filter Google's text ads. I don't use it (Google's ads don't really bother me), but it's worth mentioning as an easy alternative to Greasemonkey.

Re:Lack of ads counts most? (1)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462067)

Although come to think of it, CustomizeGoogle is likely based on Greasemonkey. Oh well, still a good extension worthy of mentioning.

Google ads (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462184)

There's a Firefox extension called CustomizeGoogle which offers (among many other handy features) the ability to filter Google's text ads. I don't use it (Google's ads don't really bother me), but it's worth mentioning as an easy alternative to Greasemonkey.

Being text and seperated from search results on the right, I really don't mind Google's ads and because most of their revenue is from ads and I generally like the results I get from Google I occasionally will click on an ad, er open in a new tab then close the tab. Actually to block many ads no matter what website their shown on I use a Host file [google.com] .

Falcon

Re:Google ads (2)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462330)

When I still used Google regularly, I found that their ads, depending on my search, were as valuable as the search results. I mean, when doing a search for something like "custom pencils" or "cloisinne pins"; the ads that came up were at least as valuable sa the results.

But, Google is so gamed now that for many searches it's totally useless, while smaller sites like Ask or even AltaVista, which use different (and arguably worse) search algorithms, actually provide more usefull results.

no lack of spyware though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461342)


Ask Jeeves and Spyware [google.com]

Ben Edelman analysis of Ask Jeeves practices [benedelman.org]

so they dont need banner ads on their site because they are already on numerous surfers machines natively

screw Ask.com

Re:Lack of ads counts most? (1)

ddx Christ (907967) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461804)

Lack of annoying ads. Adblocker or not, they've managed to make users cringe at the thought of ads. I've been on sites that were creative enough to bypass several types of adblockers just for the purpose of badgering the user.

On a more upsetting note, this abuse of ads makes legitimate advertising almost unworkable. I'm talking nonintrusive ads that allow a site to stay afloat despite costs. It's a pity to say the least.

Re:Lack of ads counts most? (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462857)

You have a point. The only ads I really have a problem with are ones that come across your screen and block what you're reading and you have to search for the x button. Or the ads that constantly make noise or video so you wait eternity until it loads just cuz of an ad.

Re:Clusty? (1)

endofoctober (660252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462112)

The ad running with the Ask.com founder made me roll my eyes, hearing that they were the only ones using clustered results. I use Clusty.com [clusty.com] if I want clustered results (and have since it was Vivisimo), and see no reason to switch. They should stick to natural language querying as their niche - other search engines have clusters covered.

YUCK! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461253)

I would like to ask, is there any website UGLIER than ask.com?

Whenever I do a search for info and an ask.com page comes up, I just move along...

Re:YUCK! (2, Funny)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462298)

>I would like to ask, is there any website UGLIER than ask.com?

http://games.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org]

Whatware. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461258)

"and, (what counts most) fewer ads than any of the rivals."

Let's hear it for a return of the dot.com.

"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461269)

How can they tell if what they are lifting are facts?

Seriously.

I wondered what was going to happen when the first "Internet Generation" of kids who went through school believing everything they read on the Web finally got out into the workplace. Now, I suppose, I know.

And I am very, very afraid...

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (5, Insightful)

greenhollow (63021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461319)

This is the same as trusting the newspapers, tv sound bytes and what celebrities say. You cannot make serious decisions about anything unless you do in depth research and take all sides into consideration.

I call this "thinking". I do no think it is exclusive to any generation.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461348)

You cannot make serious decisions about anything unless you do in depth research and take all sides into consideration.

Correct.

This is the same as trusting the newspapers, tv sound bytes and what celebrities say.

Incorrect. When a contributor to Wikipedia risks losing his principal source of income because what she has written in an article is wrong, then that contributor *begins* to approach equal standing with the professional journalists, writers, researchers, and editors of the "traditional" media and encyclopedias.

I am not saying that the Wikipedia Army and Pajama Nation do not have their useful place here in the early part of the 21st Century -- they surely do -- but being suppliers of "quick facts" ain't it.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (2, Insightful)

zenyu (248067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461496)


Incorrect. When a contributor to Wikipedia risks losing his principal source of income because what she has written in an article is wrong, then that contributor *begins* to approach equal standing with the professional journalists, writers, researchers, and editors of the "traditional" media and encyclopedias.


Hehe, I guess you haven't read a newspaper in the last 300 years, huh?

The last time I picked up a NYT there were about two clear misstatements of facts or worse for every one essentially correct statement.

There is a reason it's called the first draft of history.

The problem with your thinking is that while professional journalist do have money as a motivator they must also produce "content" or lose that income. Since they only get caught after the newspaper gets thousands of complaint letters, the journalist is only forced to fact check stories on controversial topics. Everything else he writes displays the sorry state of our high schools, which graduate these future workers into journalism schools to produce the army of hacks that edit our nation's press releases for brevity for publication in our newspapers.

The average wikipedian is not only immeasurably better educated than our best journalists, but they are also not under the deadline pressure and threat of job loss that forces the journalist to write total schlock on a regular basis. Of course I grant more credence to a peer reviewed article in a serious journal than to a wikipedia article, but the wikipedia has a hell of a lot more accuracy than any daily newspaper!

Note: I say daily newspaper because I have some faith in the Economist and other weeklies. While the Economist is often laughably off, say when the story is on a continent where they have few reporters or on stories where their idealogical beliefs strongly contradict the facts, most articles seem to have had a serious minded fact checker or an editor give them a quick read.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461584)

The average wikipedian is not only immeasurably better educated than our best journalists[...]

That's where you made me laugh. That sentence is completely wrong.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462920)

Well, you could argue that it its precisely accurate: They are immeasurably better educated.

"The Economist" (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462062)

Note: I say daily newspaper because I have some faith in the Economist and other weeklies. While the Economist is often laughably off, say when the story is on a continent where they have few reporters or on stories where their idealogical beliefs strongly contradict the facts, most articles seem to have had a serious minded fact checker or an editor give them a quick read.

The Economist also includes information that's hard to find elsewhere, and not just about economics.

Falcon

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

70Bang (805280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462469)



The average wikipedian is not only immeasurably better educated than our best journalists

better educated or more knowledgeable about a particular subject?

If it's the latter, I don't think there's any disagreement about that. How many talking heads would you need to keep on staff to cover every topic at a Master or PhD level?

Besides, a journalist can be a quick learner and frequently interviews experts. (or should be)

What bothers me about those in the media is listening to "...same exact...", "...exactly the same..., ...exact same..., ...such & such...for Tom & I... (it should be Tom & me)[1], problems with further and farther, less and fewer. The other pet peeve I have is when they've been on the scene for eighteen hours and have to look down at their notepad every ten seconds to make sure they have their facts straight.

(Should someone say something about grammar|spelling|punctuation Nazis, I sincerely appreciate your invocation of Godwin's law and conceding "the discussion" with your first post.)


______________________________

[1]
Although this is a realtime situation undergoing change in grammar. I'm one who will hold out (for now)
We should hear "the smorning" and "the safternoon" in change as well. It seems difficult for many to say, "this moorning" and "this afternoon."


Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461853)

I call this "thinking". I do no think

lol

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

ByteGuerrilla (918383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462069)

If I'd made that post I think I'd post it AC too.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461358)

the first "Internet Generation" of kids who went through school believing everything they read on the Web

They must have bee working for the CIA in the leadup to the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461391)

Why is Wikipedia any less trustworthy than any other encyclopedia? The articles can be independently edited and verified by multiple people if necessary to ensure accuracy. Regular encyclopedias on the other hand rely on the accuracy of a single company's team of editors and we've seen time and time again that they make mistakes constantly. My professors had no problem at all with the research I did for my dissertation that I backed up with facts from Wikipedia*.

*Well, they didn't KNOW the facts were from Wikipedia, but they didn't question them.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (2)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461722)

Why is Wikipedia any less trustworthy than any other encyclopedia?

Because the article in Britannica on Maxwell's Theory was written by some dude named James Clerk Maxwell?

*Well, they didn't KNOW the facts were from Wikipedia, but they didn't question them.

We can't blame it all on the web. The quality of our professional academics isn't exactly at its apex either.

KFG

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461741)

Wikipedia has no reputation to protect. Other than the feeling of personal accomplishment, there's little reason for a contributor to be as factually accurate as possible, or to present a complete picture, or not to mislead, or to make the explanation even marginally readable. On the other hand, a source like the Economist or National Geographic or even the Times has at least some stake in the quality of its material. Frankly, I'd be inclined to trust the New York Post over any given random Wikipedia article.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461818)

there's little reason for a contributor to be as factually accurate as possible

Absolutely correct. That statement is right on the money. Of course these Wikipedia article writers have no reason to be accurate.

But then, some other writer who may have an interest just might want to be and will correct the wrong ones. And that is where you fail. Look up such controversial things as pornography. You will notice that neither the anti-porn nor the pro-porn people have done a good job of steering those articles into the likes of "The devil will eat your children if you view it" or "Viewing Porn cures cancer" respectively. It's a nice balance.

And when you get into more complicated but much less controversial things, like electrodynamics or something, then odds are against some random schmoe screwing that up without another physicist correcting it.

And then there are such things as the $Fictional_Universe. I've learned a lot about the Warcraft Universe from Wikipedia that would take me forever to learn otherwise. Same with Half-Life, etc.

And don't ever forget to peruse all the external links. Those are great places to learn more. I have found that Wikipedia is the best place to begin my research.

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461808)

i think that a "web article" has different levels of trustability
"publisher" > the JAMA or JRandomBlogger
"writer" (in the context of the C programming language) Brian Kernighan or some random TSCOG dude (who just finished reading a book on C say http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0131103628/102-06 47617-2540101?v=glance&n=283155 [amazon.com] :-))

Re:"Quick Facts from Wikipedia" ??? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461526)

Its certainly more "facts" than what a typical first page of normal websearch results on your query would yield.
Thats good enough for me.

Jeeves? (2, Insightful)

jacoplane (78110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461321)

Hmm, if they bring back Jeeves [wikipedia.org] , I might contemplate using them ;) Seriously though, I doubt Ask.com will manage to grab much more marketshare. Wikipedia facts are nice and all, but Wikipedia results tend to come up high on Google results anyway. I think that there are simply not enough people who are willing to switch: look at the incredibly large marketshare IE6 continues to have to this day. I doubt they'll be able to withstand Google, Yahoo & MSN in the long run. I have to admit that Bloglines is nice, I use it all the time, and since it exports OPML I can always switch and take my feeds with me.

Re:Jeeves? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461848)

That's alot of personal opinion and speculation regarding the reaction of people at large when it comes to new approaches of organizing, displaying and communicating information on the web. Remember the personal web page of the 1990's? Everybody had a personal website with a link begging you to please sign thier personal message board.

Now we have blogs and and wiki's.

Suff evolves; new ways, trends and effencies are central to the expansion of the web. Once I said, "How could something ever replace hotbot? This google is stupid!"

Try using ask.com as your only major search engine for a week, get to know it. You just might find youself taking a shine to it. That's how I made the switch from hotbot to google so very many years ago.

Re:Jeeves? (1)

jacoplane (78110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462003)

Ok, maybe I will. I've just added it to my Firefox search bar and I'll use it for a few days. I'm sceptical though. I find Google to be good enough most of the time, and I'm used to the advanced syntax for it. But I'll give it a shot.

Re:Jeeves? (1)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462309)

Agreed... and especially in the world of web pages and search engines.

This is not installed software, they don't have a real hold on their users outside of delivering a quality product & having a recognizable name. Maybe they have their default home page of a handful of users, and there's the Firefox search box... but outside of that, switching from google.com to ask.com is trivial.

And ask.com has TV spots now, I saw one the other day, I gotta admit while I dismissed it as marketting cause I know a little bit about search engines, it was an intriguing add if I didn't, I would definitely have given it a try for my next search... heck I might anyway.

Re:Jeeves? (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462391)

To me, ask.com's best product is myway.com [myway.com] , a 100% ad-free portal, which you can customize with the traditional (AP news feed, scores, weather, movies, tvlisitings, etc.

Re:Jeeves? (1)

tommertron (640180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461933)

I think the big thing holding Ask back is the breadth of the search results, which Google is still king of.

Because I'm a narcissist, I tried a quick search for my play "Napoleon Vs. the Turk" on Ask.com, and got nothing related to it, even though it's mentioned on my blog, on digg, the Toronto Fringe webstie, and even has it its own homepage. Google returned all of those as top results.

I don't care about web page previews all that much, what I really care about is having as many search results as possible being considered, and ask looks like it's just not giving me that.

Re:Jeeves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15462439)

I remember when Altavista was the dominant search engine. What's special about Google that they cannot be beaten?

Microsoft has been around for decades, and switching operating systems is a lot of work. Switching browsers takes much less work, but there's still a barrier to switching. Switching search engines takes virtually no work.

Maybe that's why I've switched search engines 5 times, always to something I thought was significantly better. When the barrier to switching is so low (and the barrier to entry is so low), competition drives the quality way up. You can spend millions of dollars on TV commercials that tell people they're monkeys for using their competitor's product, but if it's not actually a better product, we're not going to switch. OTOH, if it really is a better product, you don't need TV commercials -- how many Google commercials did you see before you switched to that?

I don't know if Ask.com is going to be good enough to get me to switch again, but how can you rule it out?

Maps at Ask.com (1)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461339)

The only reference in TFA about ask.com maps is "Its map and image search products, too, offer distinct advantages over the competition. Not much. However, see the maps tools [ask.com] and read a review of it [directionsmag.com] . If these maps-topics is of your interest, see also http://slashgeo.org/ [slashgeo.org] :-)

Isn't this just what AskJeeves.com used to be? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461355)

... but with more ads?

Priorities (2, Funny)

GeorgeH (5469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461359)

Ask.com has many features not available with rivals -- topic clusters, quick facts from Wikipedia on the search page, and, (what counts most) fewer ads than any of the rivals.
If that's what matters most to you in a search engine, wouldn't Goatse.cx (R.I.P.) have been better than Ask, Google and Yahoo combined? I don't think it had any ads...

Re:Priorities (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461625)

something.com [something.com] has even fewer!

Full-blown... (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461364)

a site originally designed to respond to queries in human language that grew into a full-blown search engine after the Teoma acquisition

They make it sound like an "upgrade", but it's the opposite. I bet I could use ask.com if it could really answer questions and they concentrated on that, instead of being a generic search engine.

a few questions for slashdot (0, Troll)

jihadi_lame (925725) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461908)

Are you tired of slashdot's editors? Check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org] !

While you're there, check out the database tool here [anti-slash.org] . With the database tool, you can quickly gain karma by reposting highly-moderated slashdot posts, and secure the +1 bonus for future jihad operations.

By decreasing /.'s already low signal to noise ratio, you can force /.'s editors to come clean about their ethical lapses, and have a great time doing it!

Thank you for your support,

jihadi_31337

Re:Full-blown... (2, Informative)

AleFeanor (854773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462454)

I bet I could use ask.com if it could really answer questions and they concentrated on that, instead of being a generic search engine.

Sometimes I use START http://start.csail.mit.edu/ [mit.edu] when I have a question like "what's the biggest country in Europe" or "What's the distance between Buenos Aires and Rosario"

In further news (1)

cheebie (459397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461373)

Some business magazine said Burger King Burgers are really yummy and only losers eat at McDonalds. Furthermore, all of the really cool kids hang out at Burger King now.

What about punctuation? (4, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461388)

The next thing I want in a search engine is for punctuation to be a part of the search.
For example, how do you search for the difference between the following 2 LaTeX commands:
\circle
\circle*
(I know the answer now, but I had to look it up in my reference book, as google was just about worthless for my "latex star" query)

Re:What about punctuation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461557)

Would you mind sharing?

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461563)

Come on, what do you want? A Computer or a Clairvoyant? Circle is a very generic word with so many meanings. Even LaTeX, though you are taught to pronounce TeX as tech by Donald Knuth and Leslie Lamport allows both lateks and latech, is more commonly known as a rubber compound used to make gloves and paint [FN1]. Thus shorn of context circle, even with punctuations does not give enough hints to help the search engine figure what you want. Heck, most human beings wont recognize what you are talking about if you just said "\circle \circle*". If I know you are writing a thesis/paper with LaTeX I might guess, otherwise you will have most humans asking, "pardon moi, what did you say?". So why do you want the computer/search engine to figure it out?

All I did was to add a unique string/word to give google a sense of the context. I said google "Latex leslie lamport \circle \circle*" and see for yourself what you get. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&as_qdr=all& q=Latex+Leslie+Lamport++%5Ccircle+%5Ccircle*&btnG= Search [google.com]

First link was bio of leslie, looked like. Second one was a pdf file. The third link gave you http://ftp.mendelu.cz/TeX/CTAN/obsolete/systems/vm -cms/texshell/latex.help [mendelu.cz]

May be you will sneer at google for not bringing up this link as number one and highlighting the command syntax in the first page as the summary. Someday I will get a search engine where I could type "my thesis" and it will figure out what I am thinking and type out the whole damn dissertation, but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, I could be legitimately amazed that google found the manual for LaTeX in the top three hits.

[FN1] Did you rewind and read that sentence again because of the suddenness with which I went from LaTeX context to paint and gloves? Context is that important to a human brain. And you want google to print you the command summary on hearing \circle in 0.21 seconds? Geez, have a heart buddy, and give google a break.

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461702)

(Using / as a search string delimiter)

Yes, circle is a generic term, but "\circle*" isn't. When you search for printf, do you have to search for /C Dennis Ritchie printf/?
Why can't I just search for /\circle \cicle*/ to get documents that contain both "\circle" and "\circle*", instead of having to name the language and the creator of that language.

Yes, searching for /latex circle/ is hard to disambiguate, but /latex \circle*/ isn't hard at all, unless you throw away the punctuation, which is meaningful in this case.

(The difference between those 2 commands is that \circle is a hollow circle character, and \circle* is a filled circle character, for the person who asked.)

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461714)

While 'circle' is a generic term, the exact strings '\circle' and \circle*' are fairly specific to LaTeX. If Google (or any search engine) supported searching for the exact string, rather than picking the part of the string that looks like a word, a search for computer language syntax would be easy. That said, in the vast majority of cases having punctuation not count is a boon (eg, entering "foo-bar" will also pick up "foo bar"), because the vast majority of searches are not for computer syntax. All's he's looking for is a switch to turn the default convenience behavior off.

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461852)

Heck, most human beings wont recognize what you are talking about if you just said "\circle \circle*"

I might not know what he was talking about, but I could match it literally with other instances.

The real problem though, in this particular instance, is that he did not properly identify to himself what he wanted to search for on the web

Your search, by the way, is obtuse and relies on specific knowledge that only results in false hits.

Try something as simple as "latex+circle command". This one'll give you the answer in the first hit:

http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/latex/ltx-210.html [nasa.gov]

KFG

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461573)

In theory they should interpret punctuations as characters to search on if they're placed within quotes. (Of course google isn't case sensitive, even within quotes). But then how do you search for quotes? The next step would be a system of escaping "special" characters.

Re:What about punctuation? (2, Informative)

ferd_farkle (208662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461771)

"just about worthless" ??

The search terms 'latex asterisk circle' gave this as 2nd result:

A Guide to LaTeX
\circle{d} draw circle of diameter d; * form draws solid disk \oval{x ... Note that when you put the asterisk '*' in front of % the text, that the section, ...
www.astro.rug.nl/~kuijken/latex.html - 36k - Cached - Similar pages

  - One needn't even follow the link. Google is your friend.

Re:What about punctuation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15462203)

No fear! Google is about to roll out the new Google Nerds service for all three users, real soon now!

(Did you try "latex editor manual", BTW? You know, if you know your problem is rare and won't be solved by others -- not even by those who could -- just try working around it and bam! be happy. And keep that manual around, too.)

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462205)

As a Perl developer, I feel your pain. Searching for what "$[" means, for example, is hard: depending on where you learned English it could be "dollar-sign open-square-bracket," "dollar-sign open-bracket," or "guy wearing really weird glasses frowning robotically." I really want to be able to search for $[ by itself but Google won't let me [google.com] . (Nor will Yahoo!, Ask, or MSN.)

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462487)

While I agree that search engines are a pain with this kind of thing, Perl has several very nice manpages. Specifically, the "perlvar" one contains the answer to your question, and the "perl" manpage lists all the ones there are. From the manpage:


The index of the first element in an array, and of the first character in a substring. Default is 0, but you could theoretically set it to 1 to make Perl behave more like awk (or Fortran) when subscripting and when evaluating the index() and substr() functions. (Mnemonic: [ begins subscripts.)

As of release 5 of Perl, assignment to $[ is treated as a compiler directive, and cannot influence the behavior of any other file. (That's why you can only assign compile-time constants to it.) Its use is highly discouraged.

Note that, unlike other compile-time directives (such as strict), assignment to $[ can be seen from outer lexical scopes in the same file. However, you can use local() on it to strictly bind its value to a lexical block.

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462500)

I know, but sometimes I want to find the answer to a more specific usage-related question. $[ is mentioned all over the perldocs but most search engines simply filter it out as a search term. There are sites like Perldoc and Perlmonks that are more accommodating, though.

Google has been known to make special accommodations for programming help. Google doesn't strip the punctuation from C++ or C#, for example. It'd be nice if all punctuation were searchable.

Re:What about punctuation? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462277)

I'm not a programmer, but I am a person with a hyphen in my name and it would be nice if google recognized that there is a difference between "Bryan-Mitchell" and "Bryan Mitchell." Maybe I spend too much time vanity searching though...

Google is King of the search engine hill (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461423)

I have sworn my allegiance to Google from years of seeing how they operate. From the "Don't be evil" mindset to releasing software for Linux. Good times! Hiring up some really bright minds (though they already had/have so many) and bringing a product to their intended audience quickly (whether from their own labs or purchasing a company) with a lot of simplistic yet very functional features. Forget Cringley's prediction and facination with Google. Just sit back and enjoy the show, knowing you will not be disappointed in future Google offerings. I'm not an employee or anything (though that would be delightful). I live in North TX for you demographic types.

And most importantly (1)

zidohl (976382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461433)

you can get a ask.com firefox toolbar! At least they're innovative..

Dead website (1)

Snipergrunge (978927) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461434)

Hmmmmm, ASK.com is a dead search engine. I don't know about you but my fingers automaticly type "google" or "yahoo" when i need to find something. What can Ask do about it? I am sure...They will be sold in couple years to google or yahoo or msn...

Re:Dead website (1)

iwsnet (946715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462996)

I think Microsoft has more of a chance with their search engine than Ask.com. I still wouldn't use either one of them.

"how many fingers does a human being have?" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461566)

Ask.com's first result is a webpage on How many fingers can you fit into your ass? [ask.com] . Now that's useful... ;)

Re:"how many fingers does a human being have?" (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461889)

How many fingers can you fit into your ass?

None, if you don't mind, and even if you do.

KFG

Not to give away good ideas, but... (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461600)

If Google offers widgets in the search results, won't that blow away Ask.com's being stuck with Wikipedia? I just hope they credit me, since I know they're all reading this and thinking about it now.

Deceptive article... (5, Informative)

cswiger2005 (905744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461618)

quick facts from Wikipedia on the search page, and, (what counts most) fewer ads than any of the rivals

This is obviously untrue-- there are zero ads on Wikipedia, which seems to be where ask.com has lifted much of the content only to wrap it in paid-for-placement ad banners. Do a search on ask.com and you'll get the top-3 sponsored paid ad links first, then the top-ten actual search results, and then another 5 sponsored paid ad links. By my count, about forty percent of the links ask.com shows you when you search are ad links.

Next, we could consider the author, who isn't identified by name or email address, but by a link to a freshly registered domain that's just over two weeks old:

Registrant:
Digital Media Ventures LLC
701 First Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
US

Domain name: PLASMA-HDTV-PRICES.COM

Administrative Contact:
Alexander Moskalyuk, - alex@moskalyuk.com
701 First Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
US
4083492977 Fax: 4083492977

Technical Contact:
Alexander Moskalyuk, - alex@moskalyuk.com
701 First Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
US
4083492977 Fax: 4083492977

Record last updated on 19-May-2006.
Record expires on 13-May-2007.
Record created on 13-May-2006.

Domain servers in listed order:
NS1.DREAMHOST.COM 66.33.206.206
NS2.DREAMHOST.COM 66.201.54.66

View the "page info" and take a look at the links, this seems to be nothing more than an article by a shill who is getting paid to promote products and/or do market research on people who read Slashdot.

Re:Deceptive article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461687)

"701 First Ave" is Yahoo's headquarters so fake domain registration as well

Re:Deceptive article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461925)

Very good point about the submitter. Please be sure to email the submitter [mailto] and let him know how you feel about slashvertising.

Re:Deceptive article... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461938)

Not quite sure how accurate addresses in Domain registrants are ... but 701 First Ave, Sunnyvale Ca is Yahoo!s corporate headquarters.

Re:Deceptive article... (1)

cswiger2005 (905744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462084)

These last three remarks are why Anonymous Coward is sometimes still worth reading, thank you all, and good job spotting the connection to Yahoo! corporate address.

I just bounced mail off to abuse@yahoo.com, showing the WHOIS info and asking whether the domain registration is legitimate or fraudulent-- who knows, perhaps it is legit (?!!!), but I CC:ed fraud@ftc.gov just to make sure that they pay attention. :-)

Re:Deceptive article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15462208)

Promote which product on Slashdot?
Ask.com? Or links to traffic-starved CNN.com?

Ask.com: Google's up-and-coming rival?! (5, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461619)

The title of the article is "Ask.com: Google's up-and-coming rival", but I still want to know (and this is the third time I've asked):

Why is Ask.com considered a Google "rival" if it primarily serves Google ads?

(How do I know? It serves an ad I've only placed through Google.)

Re:Ask.com: Google's up-and-coming rival?! (1)

prostoalex (308614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462161)

While they've been primarily supported by Google Ads, they're developing their own ad platform http://sponsoredlistings.ask.com/ [ask.com] , which I think has not gathered enough critical mass among advertisers.

Ask.com - They track every click you make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461833)

http://wzus.ask.com/r?t=p&d=us&s=a&c=a&l=dir&o=0&s v=0a300522&ip=182f7403&id=1C096C90D8C85B4053EDDA1A 75EB1D87&q=test&p=1&qs=1&ac=20&g=1983R2Qa2tksid&en =te&io=2&ep=&eo=&b=alg&bc=&br=&tp=d&ec=10&pt=Queen dom.com%3A%20Tests%2C%20Tests%2C%20Tests%20and%20m ore%20Tests%2C%20The%20biggest%20...&ex=&url=&u=ht tp://www.domain.tld/
Am looking for an alternative to Google and would have considered using Ask.com if not for their hideous result page URLs (see above). They track every click you make on a result link. Certainly, I do not need this.

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15461934)

they also are known (ad|spy)ware distributers [google.com] , careful how you go

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461990)

You might as well stop using the web altogether then (or at least search engines). When it comes to search engines, tracking users behavior helps them to improve their results significantly. Human-based results are infinitely better than machine-generated results in the vast majority of cases, so tracking how users respond to results is something virtually every mainstream search engine is going to do. A company called Direct Hit Technologies pioneered popularity-based search engine results back around 1995 that were based entirely on the anonymous tracking of users search engine usage. They were eventually bought by Ask.com (still known as Ask Jeeves) in early 2000, before Ask bought Teoma.

There are a number of useful reasons for anonymously tracking user behavior in search engines. For example:

user A issues query Q. They visit website X, then a minute later website Y.
user B issues the same query. They also visit website X followed by website Y.

If this similar pattern occurs multiple times then it implies that the users found website Y better than website X as a result for query Q. The more you see this pattern the more you boost the ranking for website Y.

Another type of example:

user 1 issues the query "used cars" and eventually goes to website W.
user 2 issues the query "antique automobiles" and also eventually goes to website W.

If this pattern is repeated numerous times then the search engine can deduce that "used cars" is a good alternative to "antique automobiles" and vice versa. The search engine can combine the results of these queries to come up with better results and/or provide the queries as alternatives to the end user (if the search engine in question does provide alternative queries to try out).

Slightly more complex:

user C issues the query "auto mechanic". A minute or two later he issues the query "car parts".
user D issues the query "car parts". A minute or two later he issues the query "engine repair".

Again, if these patterns appear again and again over a period of time then the search engine can start equating the query "auto mechanic" with "engine repair". Once again the search engine can suggest one query in lieu of the other, or simply blend the results of the two queries together. If the search engine already knows that both "auto mechanic" and "engine repair" have website R as a search result then they may want to raise the relevency of that website for both queries, and as a result rank it higher in the results.

None of these sorts of ranking scenarios would be possible without minimal tracking of user interaction. It basically turns every user of the search engine into judges to help improve the results of search queries.

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15462168)

You might as well stop using the web altogether then (or at least search engines).

Why would I? Google currently does NOT track clicks from their reuslt page. When Google start doing that I guess I'll have to move my searches to some other engine, perhaps Clusty, for they also use simple, non-tracking URLs.

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462241)

Go to Google. Do a search. View the source. See all those "onmousedown" events on search results? They're tracking clicks in a way only Google users could love: AJAX [digitalpoint.com] .

(They may only do this if you've used another Google service, even if you have Search History turned off, but those 2 GB of mail storage were just so tempting weren't they?)

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (1)

tbmcmullen (940544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462795)

So what?

Go make yourself a tinfoil hat.

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (2, Informative)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462227)

Google does the same exact thing. Even though I have Search History turned off, I searched for "paranoia." If you right-click on result 1 and click "Copy to clipboard," the raw URL comes out. If you look at the source, Google inserts tracking the second you left-click the link:
<a class=l href="http://www.xiph.org/paranoia/" onmousedown="return asq(event,this,'','','res','1','&sig2=QN3OZS8vdWbp J85DxPP1ZQ')">CDDA <b>Paranoia</b> Homepage</a>
More explanation available here [digitalpoint.com] .

Re:Ask.com - They track every click you make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15462589)

Google does the same exact thing.

You're maybe right. Yet another reason to start looking for an alternative to Google and install NoScript FF extension [mozilla.org] .

Boycott Google spyware in FireFox 2.0 as well.

Deep not wide (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461895)

I've noticed that ask.com has found some sites that weren't found in google, but more often than not they have bring up a lot fewer sites than google. I've found myself using them when I don't find something from google.

Ask.com gaining conservative searchers (-1, Troll)

Kenrod (188428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461966)

Many conservatives have stopped using Google because of a perceived bias against conservative blogs and news sources. Many have turned to ask.com and dogpile.com (which uses google) as viable alternatives. Here's a right-leaning analysis [newsbusters.org] and a more impartial analysis [searchengineguide.com] .

Google has complained of "hate speech" from conservative sites when removing them, but usually the speech is from comments left by users, not the stories themselves. And google continues to news index Jihadist sites from the Middle East, which are rife with anti-semitic hate speech and propaganda, as well as US leftist sites like dailykos.com and democraticunderground.com, which contain the same type of hate speech found on right wing sites, only these sites are from the left.

In addition to this, Google has been accused of refusing to run conservative ads and it's pretty well known that 98% of political contributions from Google employees went to liberal candidates and causes, including over $1 million to Moveon.org.

Many people concerned with human rights (left and right) are appalled by Google's partnership with China's Communist government, which forces google to censor search results.

Re:Ask.com gaining conservative searchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15462028)

Good for them.

Re:Ask.com gaining conservative searchers (2, Insightful)

saihung (19097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462141)

Your post has weasel words that make me doubt your conclusion: "many conservatives" (how many? which ones, specifically?) and "many have turned to ask.com" (same problem). People talk about "many" when they don't have any actual facts or figures, but they want to make a blanket generalization. "Many" is rhetorically equivalent to "one or more," but usually is used when the speaker wants the listener to believe he means "most" (which actually means something: 50% or more). So who cares if "one or more" conservatives stopped using Google? Is there any evidence at all of reduced traffice as a result?

If by "conservative news sources" you mean nonsense like Michelle Malkin, then good riddance to bad rubbish. What that she does isn't news, and she's not a reporter. She posts her opinions, backed by facts that are occassionally right and occassionally wrong - and she never publishes a correction, no matter how wrong she is. She's free to do this, of course, but what she does isn't news.

I am interested in what hate speech you believe exists on dailykos.com, and where you believe it's parallel to the frequent talk of "Leftards" and other hate speech I read on sites like The Jawa Report. You are also making a big assumption about the representativeness of the left-leaning sites you mention with respect to Google news overall, AND a big assumption about the quality of the reporting on these sites compared to the quality of the reporting on the (unnamed) conservative sites you mention. Factual accuracy is something that can be objectively evaluated, but not without specific references. Where do you find factual errors on daily kos, for instance?

Google is in Northern California, which is overwhelmingly Democratic. Google is staffed by college graduates, many with advanced degrees, and these people are also more likely to be Democratic than not. Whatever your implication, Google probably couldn't exist if it insisted that 50% of its employees vote Republican. What you haven't demonstrated is that this pattern of private political contributions among Google employees translates to biased search results. Your use of the passive voice ("has been accused") itself suggests that you either don't know who the accusers are, or that the accusers lack any authority and that mentioning their names wouldn't help (or would even hurt) your argument.

Finally, your point about China is true. Google's dealings with China are, alas, no different from Yahoo's or Wal-Mart's, but they are all the same in this respect: they are irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Re:Ask.com gaining conservative searchers (1)

Kenrod (188428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462537)

The article was about the rising popularity of Ask.com, my point was to point out that conservatives are unhappy about a perceived liberal bias at Google (my original post clearly says "perceived"). My point was not to prove or disprove anything, only to point out perceptions about Google that are leading to people using Ask.com. The Fortune article didn't address this as a reason for Ask.com's success. Whether or not allegations of bias are true, it's an entirely valid point.

Most of the points I summarized are from the unbiased article at searchengineguide.com. In fact, I think they are all from that article.

My original post has been unfairly modded to "troll", maybe someone can explain why since my post directly addressed the topic and said nothing inflammatory.

Re:Ask.com gaining conservative searchers (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462189)

The article talks about Google news which is not a search engine and thus it does not compete with Ask.com. Google news does not pretend to offer impartial results or to search the whole web.

I quickly scanned some of the alleged hate speech, I am not sure if it qualifies as hate speech, but I see how Google may be affraid that they would get too much complaints if it shows up on the front page of google news. Also I don't think dailykos or democratic underground contain "the same kind of hate speech".

I dont know how do you know about private political contributions of Google's employees. Arent those supposed to be private? But even if you are correct, what does that have to do with anything?

Google's agreement to censor results in China may be a legitimate reason to boycott but if one does that one should also boycott all the other large internet companies which do the same thing. Yahoo is much worse because they actually give Chinese authorities information that lands people in jail.

what Ask.com offers (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15461978)

According to Fortune, Ask.com has many features not available with rivals -- topic clusters, quick facts from Wikipedia on the search page, and, (what counts most) fewer ads than any of the rivals.

Topic clusters aren't available on other search engines? I guess they've never seen or heard of Mooter [mooter.com] . I've been using it for several months and I've never seen an ad though they do have a Sponsored Link in the top right corner. And while it doesn't have quick facts from Wikipedia on the first page, when I just did a search for slashdot, the second page of results included a link for the Slashdot effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [wikipedia.org] . When I add wikipedia as a search term I get more than 10 pages of results.

Falcon

Few Ads, but they're from Google (1)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462148)

...fewer ads than any of the rivals

The author of this article praises ask.com for having fewer ads, but what he didn't realize is that the advertisements they do show are from Google Adwords. Much of the article compares Ask.com to Google and praises the former for being innovative and holding an edge over the others. Unfortunately, that point is somewhat hidden when you realize Google is profiting from their progress.


A Comeback for Teoma? (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462245)

There's a dated poster that hangs in a fairly well traveled hallway in the CoRE Building [rutgers.edu] at Rutgers [rutgers.edu] where Teoma was developed. It is an enlarged copy of an article theorizing that Teoma would provide significant competition to Google. It's somewhat funny to look at since it was written in the forgotten era of Google being popular, but not dominant. In fact, here's the article [rutgers.edu] . My favorite quote: "Google has reached its maturity." Maybe this is Teoma's second chance at attacking Google.

Ask.com market share not growing (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462290)

Even the link included in the slashdot article shows that the ask.com market share actually FELL over last year. So how is Ask.com "a rising star" then?

Ask.com is using the questionable AOL business model. That is they advertise a lot on TV and traditional media in order to draw in users that are new to the internet. That's all good and all but those new to the internet users eventually become slightly more experienced and learn that everybody else actually uses google for search, so they switch too. Thus, just like AOL ask.com more or less trains future clients of their competitors.

But meanwhile Ask.com keep the advertisement dollars flowing which gets them a nice favorable articles in Forbes and apparently they have decided to pay for some Slashvertisements as well.

A cheer for bathwater (2, Interesting)

xkr (786629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462325)

The 'old' ask.com was pure crap. The 'new' ask.com appears to be blatant attempt to copy google in order to get a piece of their billion dollar valuation pie.

But I tried out a couple of genuine searches that frustrated me in both google and wikipedia. Their results were significantly better. :) :) So I am going to eat a bit of crow and use them from time to time.

Competition is a good thing. We wouldn't want google turning into another M$, would we? So what if they are re-using google ads and wiki content? The US media has been serving up used bathwater for decades.

ads are not bad things (2, Interesting)

entendre entendre (977799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462374)

Fewer ads doesn't make a site better. In fact the reverse could be true, if the ads are sufficiently well targeted. The better the ads are targeted, the more likely they are to be part of the signal rather than part of the noise.

It's the poorly targeted ads that waste pixels and bandwidth. But ad targeting is getting better over time and "fewer ads" doesn't mean "fewer blinking banners about irrelevant crap" like it did a few years ago.

And if you're searching with intent to buy, ads are even more likely to be signal rather than noise, and search sites with better ads may show you what you want in less time.

not the features, it is the filters (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462707)

or the lack of them.

While google, yahoo and msn applies artificial filters to comply with law/money interest. ASK.com is pretty much showing what you want it to show.

Also somehow besides that, this is the last engine that somewhat not completely poisoned with spam and blog spam sites.

I miss teoma.com (2, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15462709)

You used to be able to go to teoma.com [teoma.com] and get a very clean page. now it redirects you to this [ask.com] fancy looking page. I still like Ask Desktop Search [ask.com] . It's a bit nicer in some ways than Google Desktop.
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