Ask.com augments search engine with people

Ask.com, the Internet search engine owned by IAC/InterActive Corp, is seeking some human help answering web surfers’ questions. The company has begun testing a new service that lets users of its search engine submit questions to other Ask.com visitors, tapping into the powerful social networking trends that are increasingly gaining popularity on the Web. The new service represents a striking shift for the company, which like most Internet search engines has long sought to distinguish itself based on the brawn of its computer algorithms. But with only 3.6 percent share of the U.S. search market in June according to analytics firm comScore, Ask.com is looking for ways to differentiate itself from rivals Google Inc, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp. The new “Ask the Community” feature means the company will be able to provide specific answers to a greater portion of the search queries it receives, instead of simply displaying links to relevant web pages, explained Doug Leeds, President of Ask.com U.S.The service routs questions to other Ask.com users with expertise on various subjects and is particularly useful for subjective search queries which Leeds said can stymie traditional, algorithm-based search engines. Leeds said he expected that the new service will increase overall searching on Ask.com, as people turn to its traditional search engine to find more information about products and other items that are recommended by people through the Q&A service.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66Q0CG20100727

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