Ask.com seeks a better way to search for answers

Posted by Mark Raby

If you want the answer to a question like "How far apart are sonny and cher in age?" you can't get it from a simple Google search, but Ask.com is launching a new beta site that aims to make difficult queries like this easier to answer.

The brand of Ask.com was set up as a way for users to find answers, not websites, and now it is going back to its roots with a new service.

"Ask.com is now uniquely able to offer  the most comprehensive and convenient approach to getting answers, combining pages and people to help users find the answers to all questions – even questions for which no answer is published online," wrote Ask.com SVPs Tony Gentile and Lista Kaanaugh in an Ask.com blog post.

According to details on the blog, Ask.com has already paired up more than 500 million common questions and answers in order to link specific results based on the wording of a question, and it will also introduce a human component that allows other people to answer questions asked by a search user. These results will then be indexed to create a more comprehensive database.

This particular aspect of online search is something that Google is especially focused on right now as well, and it has done a good job. People who type in mathematical questions, or ask for currency conversion rates can get the answer provided in the search box itself before they even hit the search button.

However, Google is having an admittedly difficult time figuring out when users are trying to answer a question that can't be solved by a simple algorithm.

The new Ask.com beta is currently only available to invited members, but anyone can request an invite at Ask.com/invite