Saturday, February 05, 2005

Unlike Search Engines,Answers.Com Responds With Data, Not Links

For all of their popularity and importance, search services like Google have a significant limitation: They don't answer questions or provide information directly. If you want to know the biography of a historical figure, the meaning of a word or the size of a city, Google and its competitors usually won't simply tell you. Instead, they will generate a list of Web sites where the answers might -- or might not -- be found.

If you are lucky, you may be able to quickly find an answer by skimming the summary text of the Web pages listed in the results. Google also places a little-known link called "Definition" in tiny type at the top right of many results pages.

Several of the other major search sites have taken more, but still limited, steps toward providing answers. Microsoft's new MSN Search provides direct answers to some search queries, like the populations of cities, at the top of the list of Web links. Ask Jeeves does something similar on certain queries. Amazon's A9 search service has a button called "reference" that provides some direct answers.

But now there is an entire search service devoted to providing direct answers to search queries. It is called, and it is available at Using a variety of reference sources, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, it generates a thoughtfully organized page of relevant information about your search query without requiring you to click on any further Web links.

Check out the rest of the review here.

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