August 24, 2006 4:00 AM PDT
Internet search gets Web 2.0 style
(continued from previous page)
Microsoft is getting into the social act, too, but on a lesser scale. The company is planning in the next few months to launch Windows Live Q&A, said Ramez Naam, group program manager for Windows Live Search. "There are some queries where it is hard to find what you want on the Web," he said.
Google, meanwhile, has Google Answers, where people set a price they are willing to pay to get questions answered, and Google Co-op, which lets self-described experts in a field tag Web sites that Google will then include on the main search page.
But not everyone is convinced.
"It's a little too nascent to tell if it's going to take off. It may be too complex right now for mainstream Internet users," said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise.
Right now, social search is "fundamentally flawed," added Search Engine Watch's Sherman.
"No matter how many people get involved with bookmarking, tagging, voting or otherwise highlighting Web content, the scale and scope of the Web means that most content will be unheralded by social-search efforts. The Web is simply growing too quickly for humans to keep up with it," he wrote in his blog.
Of course, several companies have been down this road before.
Ask.com, formerly Ask Jeeves, launched its Answer Point question-and-answer site in 2000 but pulled the plug in 2002, finding that people had little incentive to answer questions in a free service, according to Ask Chief Executive Jim Lanzone. "We observed that only a small group of 'experts' took the time to answer questions for others," he wrote in an e-mail that was reprinted on Search Engine Watch. "It was usually just faster and easier for people to search normally, iterating on their searches, than to submit a question to the community and wait for an answer."
A group of Ask employees then moved over to InfoSearch Media to work on its AnswerBag Q&A site, including George Lichter, chief executive of InfoSearch, who was president of Ask Jeeves International. AnswerBag has 1 million unique visitors a month and about 80,000 registered users, he said.
This time, they'll be delivering answers with a Web 2.0 cache.
"Social Q&A is not just about the answer. It's about the interaction; the asking of the question and the understanding who answered, and all the dialogue that goes around it. That's critically important," Lichter said. "So many questions we have in life have some subtlety to them, some judgment, and that's what people are seeking in social search."
8 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment