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Ask.Com's New Look Competes Well With Google 214

Posted by Zonk
from the head-to-head-face-to-face dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Ask Jeeves has been overhauled and renamed Ask.com. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg tested the new site against Google and found that Ask.com holds its own and even beats the search champ in some cases. 'It has some very nice features Google lacks, including previews of the sites it finds, an easy way to narrow or broaden your search results, and frequent top-of-the-screen answers that lead you directly to core information,' Mossberg writes."
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Ask.Com's New Look Competes Well With Google

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  • If you could actually read the text of the website. I guess maybe it would steer you away from link farms but other than that, you can't see much.
    • But if they're then effectively presenting the web site's content before you visit the site, they're open to all the same inevitable legal shenanigans that Google Cache is going to get slammed with sooner or later. If they're presenting a cut-down preview that doesn't potentially make the site itself redundant, they would seem to me to have a much safer position when it comes to fair use/fair dealing/whatever it's called in your jurisdiction.

      Then again, the preview image for the front page of a fairly lar

    • I didn't find the preview feature all that useful - I suppose it might be nice if you were on a slow connection and thus must be sparing in what you click on, but the fact is that most sites these days load just about as fast as the preview does anyway. Couple that with the fact that only a few of their links actually seem to come with the preview feature (are they in the process of creating the previews still? None of the sites when I searched for my name and only about a third of the sites when I search
    • There's another place you can see the text, and it's right there in their result. Unfortunately, Google does a much better job of displaying this kind of "preview", which is actually useful, as opposed to a blurry screenshot.
  • Website time-lapse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brejc8 (223089) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:48PM (#15026872) Homepage Journal
    I made some nice animations [brej.org] of the way the some sites have changed their layout (google, ask and altavista). Both altavista and ask are turning more and more google like.
    • Wow. You have time on your hands. Not that I don't appreciate it, but what made you do this? Was this a project of some kind?
      • by brejc8 (223089) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:36PM (#15027348) Homepage Journal
        I looked at altavista for the first time in years and noticed it being very google like and so I thought it would be nice to see how and why it changed. The script was pretty simple to make but took a while to run (overnight for each one). I like doing stuff like this as it improves my skills in different languages (in this case it was perl) and I thought learning a lot of languages might be an idea before writing my own.
    • All I can say is blech.

      A simple search for "linux" [ask.com] and I have to scroll down just about a full page at 1024x768 to get to the actual results set below the "Encyclopedia Entry" (from wikipedia), 3 "Sponsored Results" (first being from Microsoft, of course), and "Latest News" (first being from ZDnet).

      I just don't find a sponsored link from Microsoft or Linux "news" from friggen ZDnet to be particularly relevant to a search for "linux". The Wikipedia entry is at least a bit interesting... but it's not part of
      • But in what context would you, a Slashdot reader and (presumably) seasoned computer user, actually search for the term "Linux" alone? For the kind of person who would enter a search term like "Linux"--someone without a clue about computers, for example--maybe the Wikipedia entry is, indeed, the most appropriate result. And ZDNet might be as good a place as any, for the non-tech savvy, to start learning about this "Linux" thing.

        These comparisons are meaningless if you just blindly submit queries you'd never
  • For the lazy (Score:2, Informative)

    by creepynut (933825) *

    I know it's not hard to type, but when doing an article about Ask.com [ask.com], it helps to provide a link to Ask.com [ask.com].

    Oh, and it's nice. Unfortunately, I use Google because I like the results it provides. Can Ask.com compete with that, or is it just a nice look?

    • I think they're taking search pretty seriously and have made some interesting improvements recently.

      I particularly enjoyed this Ask.com blog entry [ask.com].
    • Re:For the lazy (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aeoo (568706)
      Try it. It beat the crap out of Google on a very difficult search for me. But that's just one search and it's just me. But from what it looks like so far, it's definitely doing fine on the results so far. Give it a shot and let us know.

      I'm hoping someone will post some more detailed research on the actual search results. :)
      • Re:For the lazy (Score:4, Informative)

        by npietraniec (519210) <npietran@reBLUEsistive.net minus berry> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:45PM (#15027434) Homepage
        I just did a search for my name and it returned documents on my website that have been gone for years... Their cache on my last name is HORRIBLY out of date... Just one search though, maybe they can compete better on more common terms.

        • I just did a search for my name and it returned documents on my website that have been gone for years... Their cache on my last name is HORRIBLY out of date...

          This is exactly what I saw as well. Since my name is somewhat unusual, but not unique, I usually test search engines by entering my name, both unquoted and quoted, to see what the results are.

          Entering my first and last names (unquoted) into Google gives me my web site, at its current URL as the first link.

          Entering my name into Ask.com gives me my w

      • I am using Konq and Moz-ff and neither one is showing any previews. Is it browser/rev-dependent? Did I miss an activation?

        I ran a search on my name and NOTHING about myself came up. Google brings back stuff on me most of the time.

        I ran a search on 4 letters-hyphen-4 numbers and Ask returned back only THREE woefully-unrelated results.

        Why ask Ask?

        Maybe they need to "get their ask together?"....

        funny... image word is "absconds"...
    • I primarily use Google, but for some topics its results are so mired in linkfarms that Ask.com is more useful.
    • Re:For the lazy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:57PM (#15027564)
      Unfortunately, I use Google because I like the results it provides.

      What else is there?

      With google I can do:

      my doctor's last name my_city, state

      Hit return, and at the top of the page there is the phone number to call. If only the number was hooked into an autodialer, when that comes, it will be cool.

      Google has usenet searches.

      Google has news searches (I get confused sometimes between news.google.com and groups.google.com, but...)

      Google has search by domain searches. Very useful to do .edu or .org or whatever to eliminate the .com domains who are trying to sell me crap.

      Google is instantaneous. ask.com is slow right now.

      Google has image searches.

      Google has video searches.

      Google will have music searches.

      Google...

      Yes, I'm a happy user. Thanks for Google having the best real estate on the web, and those greedy link parking whores that pay for my searching capabilities. Not to mention that its refreshing that I can buy ANYTHING that I search for at eBay while I'm at it. Very convenient.

    • Try searching for "Fourier Transform"

      On Google [google.com]

      On Ask [ask.com]

      I don't know about you, but I found Ask's search more helpful than Google's simple redirection to Mathworld and Wikipedia.
    • I use Google because I like the results it provides.

      I use Google as well, but it's more force of habit. In fact, you have to wade through two or three screens of "paid links" before you get to anything non-commercial, in most cases.

      For instance, if you're trying to find out something about, say, a particular musician, you first have to wade through a couple of pages of music download sites (mostly off-brand) and at least a page of things like GetLyricsToYourFavoriteSongsNow.com, before you can find anythin

      • I personally only use google because of google groups. When trying to find information about a particular issue I have while coding, google groups serves me much better than most web searches. I've grown quite tired of seeing usenet mirrored in about a thousand different web sites out there.
  • by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:49PM (#15026880) Homepage
    Though a competitor may try to make advances against google with revampments, Google's already got the golden brand and in this industry the guy who's at the top stays there as people feel more comfortable using what everyone else uses ... what's established. They're not going anywhere, move along.
    • by Guilly (136908) <theonlyguillsNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:55PM (#15026960)
      Funny, I'd like to see you say the following in future linux/microsoft bashing articles...

      Though a competitor may try to make advances against Microsoft Corporation with revampments, Microsoft's already got the golden brand and in this industry the guy who's at the top stays there as people feel more comfortable using what everyone else uses ... what's established. They're not going anywhere, move along.

      Thank you.
    • Though a competitor may try to make advances against google with revampments, Google's already got the golden brand and in this industry the guy who's at the top stays there as people feel more comfortable using what everyone else uses ... what's established. They're not going anywhere, move along.

      I seem to remember a time when Altavista owned the search market, with Yahoo a distant number 2 and Google didn't even exist. It is possible. Large companies can be beaten when they become complacent - somethin

    • Though a competitor may try to make advances against google with revampments, Google's already got the golden brand and in this industry the guy who's at the top stays there as people feel more comfortable using what everyone else uses

      Tell that to AltaVista and Excite. They were both, at one time or another, king of the search hill. When was the last time you used either, though?

      Granted that Google's been popular for longer than the others were, but it's not a foregone conclusion that someone else can't kno
    • IMHO I'd say in business no one stays at teh top forever. Kmart used to be hugly popular uuntil walmart came aournd and at one time Kmart was the new kid onthe block trying to push someone else out. The big three automakers that were once untouchable are facing fierce compotition for market share. IBM was the top dog at one time too. Nothing last forever.
    • The same thing had been said about Yahoo!, WebCrawler, HotBot, AltaVista, etc. You have your day in the sun. Enjoy it, Google.

      Now I'm not saying Ask is going to take it. But plenty of search engines have had their day. And more have yet to come.
  • It really boils down to a basic mistrust by the population of the name "Jeeves"

    I used to use ask... but switched to Google cause all the cool kids were doing it. That, and the color red pisses me off!

    The next thing for ask.com... change name to "Google_eats_souls_use_us.com"

    While their homepage design may be a little simpler... Google still loads quicker. Cause I gotta have my extra 5 seconds with page loads... it is a matter of National Security.
    • I don't know, I tested Ask.com and it returned the more relevant info first. My homepage for example instead of slashdot entries.

      Yo Grark
    • It really boils down to a basic mistrust by the population of the name "Jeeves"

      Yeah, that really Jeeves me out.
    • > change name to "Google_eats_souls_use_us.com"

      You can't have underscores in domain names (RFC 1034 and 1035, I think)

    • Google still loads quicker. Cause I gotta have my extra 5 seconds with page loads... it is a matter of National Security.

      Doa few hundred searches every day and speed becomes the priority.
  • by g253 (855070) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:50PM (#15026901) Homepage
    When people started using Google instead of Altavista or Yahoo, it was IMHO because Google was better than Yahoo and Altavista was selling out and turning into sheer crap. If Ask wants to grab some market share, it will not do to be as good as Google or to offer a couple of extra nice features, even if that's an impressive feat; they will have to be so much better that people will not want to use Google anymore. Good luck to them...
    • Ask's search results are just as good as Google's IMHO (when I've asked it about a subject I know a lot about, sometimes the results are actually better than Google's to be honest). I use Google more cause of the toolbar, but I use Ask's portal [myway.com] as my homepage because it's full featured, loads quickly, and is ad free.
    • All it takes is for one major ISP (be it SBC/ATT, Comcast, whatever) to use it as their default search engine. As long as it provides valid results - and from the looks of it, it does a fine job - then people will be happy with it and use it.

      People care about whether it provides them with what they want, not how much better it is/may be than Google.

    • Google people are clever.

      Many people have noticed their approach. First they provided fast search. Then they have provided more results. Then have started filtering results to artificially guess what you really want. Then have introduced "hacks" (and in fact they are still introducing them) for most of the often searched items.

      E.g. "man ifconfig" as well as "msdn CreateWindow" on Google do what I want and expect from them - fetching me pages with technical documentation. When I search in Germany "Berlin Mue
    • Have you watched TV recently? Ask.com is running a serious new ad campaign. It infers that all other search engines are primitive by comparison. Whether it is true or not, superior ad compaigns often matter more than slightly superior products.
    • Ask's attempt to copy Google is obvious. Of course, merely copying won't get you far. People aren't going to switch away from something they've grown accustomed to using if the competitor's product is only "just as good" or "barely better." It might even be better at first glance, but Google has been there for you for much longer and you know its reliability. Google's index is much larger, probably by an order of magnitude and Google offers services that Ask hasn't even touched, such as chat and email. They
  • by liliafan (454080) *
    It seems like ask has come a long way, the binoculars feature is actually really smooth, I was expecting a slow loading feature when I read the article but I was suprised.

    One thing I am not so keen on is the adverts displayed at the top of the page, something you see all over the place now, but also at the bottom of the page, meaning, I had to view them twice, I imagine for the advertisers this is a major benefit but to me the user it is an annoyance to have to scroll further to view the next page of result
  • by PoitNarf (160194) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:51PM (#15026911)
    Last I heard was that Jeeves was so upset about being dropped that he clocked an ask.com board member on the head with a pipe in the ballroom.
  • by agraupe (769778) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:51PM (#15026917) Journal
    I know what we can ask Jeeves: why does he suck?
  • One big difference (Score:4, Informative)

    by Araxen (561411) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:52PM (#15026927)
    Ask.com throws big ad searches first before any of the results you actually want. Google ads are off to the side. I'll stick with Google still.
    • Ask.com throws big ad searches first before any of the results you actually want. Google ads are off to the side. I'll stick with Google still.

      This search [google.com] turns up three ads at the top before any actual search results. So what's the problem with Ask doing this, exactly?
      • But ask.com seems to do it for many more search terms. And it's not so much the block of 3 ads at the top that get me, it's the humongous block of 5 ads that you have to scroll past on ask.com to get to the next/previous links at the bottom.
      • This search turns up three ads at the top before any actual search results. So what's the problem with Ask doing this, exactly?

        If you run the same search [ask.com] on ask.com, you get three ads at the top, like google...and five more at the bottom between the last search result and the "next page(s)" button row.

        I like the new layout, but the extra ads are a bit egregious, and the separation of the last non-paid result from the page controls irritates the shit out of me. It gives that same "real results squeezed be
  • I like it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:52PM (#15026931) Journal
    Like with most "natural language" search hype, I always found that the only thing Ask Jeeves seemed to do effectively was ignore the context and pick out keywords. That's probably genuinely useful for a lot of users, but if you know how to use keywords, there's no advantage.

    But the new Ask.com site is the first real advance in web search since the original Google came out. My one gripe is that their banner ads on other sites (with the Google results whooshing by in a blur) are really annoying.

    • Yeah, like how I just tested Ask.com with a search that I did early today at Google (latex chapter). The first result was a sponser hocking erection aids. No thanks Ask.com, I do not want spam in my mail or in my searches.
      • No thanks Ask.com, I do not want spam in my mail or in my searches.

        I don't understand -- Google has exactly the same thing! In fact, Ask.com's presentation of sponsored links is basically copied from Google.

        I can sympathize, as a recent search on the Penduline Tit [slashdot.org] turned up some very NSFW ads, but the only difference in your case seems to be that no one has bought "latex chapter" from Google yet.

  • by Lord Satri (609291) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .xuorelerdnaxela.> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:54PM (#15026949) Homepage Journal
    I took a look at TFA. Is it me or they don't discuss this new important feature: Ask.com Maps & Directions [ask.com].
    • Very nice map! Thanks.

      It looks like ask.com will be kicking Google's ass. I think it's already right up there with Google, and considering that people say it has no Chinese operation, it may be a winner for me. We'll see.
    • I took a look at TFA. Is it me or they don't discuss this new important feature: Ask.com Maps & Directions [ask.com].

      Is it me, or did they copy Google completely?? I mean, I typed in my address and Ask gets it wrong the same way Google does (one nice improvement is the red arrow showing me which house is mine... but it's wrong!!).

      Ok, they do have one feature that seems neat is the directions "playback", similar to Google Earth's "flyby" feature.

      I think they need to improve their server response, though

      • They obviously based it on Google Maps, but from what I can tell in five minutes of screwing around with it, they improved it significantly in the process. This is laudable, and distinct from, say, Microsoft cobbling together a ghastly sham of someone else's stellar product, or Gnome's or KDE's bumbling attempts to rip off the latest Mac features that never end up working quite as well as the original.

        Stealing [google.com] someone's ideas to make them better, and to make a positive dent in the world, isn't necessarily b
    • Looks like the maps just show broken images in Firefox, but shows up find in IE. Certainly an issue of lack of testing.
      • Looks like the maps just show broken images in Firefox, but shows up find in IE. Certainly an issue of lack of testing.

        Nope, it works. My had forgotten I had disabled the 'referrer'.
  • Firefox Extension (Score:2, Informative)

    by celardore (844933)
    There's a Firefox extension that adds preview images to search results.

    http://ackroyd.de/googlepreview/ [ackroyd.de]
  • by grimsweep (578372) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:57PM (#15026982)
    There's always been something about Google that I've liked more than it's search offerings: simplicity. The interface never attempts to assault you with a load of options that I may never need (I'm looking at you, Yahoo.com). Ads come in the form of simple text panels that don't make me cringe for downloading the latest version of Flash.

    Given the number of gaming sites I go to these days, I would love to see this design philosohpy adapted to more sites on the web. Not only does it help the user, but it can potentially save bandwidth and reduce overall traffic.

    • Have you noticed that the Ask.com sponsored results appear by what looks like stealth? You have to run your eyes all the way across the page to find out which results are sponsored and which aren't, by which point I usually have lost track about which line I'm looking across.

      Perhaps I just suck at keeping a stright eye line.
      • Are you colorblind (not capping on you if you are! You just got some bad genes. Blame your parents. :-D) or using your own stylesheet, perhaps? The sponsored links I see have a light blue background, almost identical to the way Google does it.

        In fact, it looks like Ask has virtually copied Google's UI, right down to the bug that I sometimes come across in Safari when I click a link it takes me back to the search engine's home page. One thing I think Ask has that Google doesn't that I like is the "narr

    • Actually, I'd say we are going back to the 'less is better' design. The original AltaVista [archive.org], for example, was very simple and rather Google like.
  • I've been using A9 as my main search engine for about 6 months now. I find the fact that it runs Google searches (which I have found most relevant to my needs), with configurable columns makes my searching life a lot faster.

    By default, I have a large Google search column, a thin image search column, and a fairly thin Wikipedia column. Every search entry I run finds related images and definitions for me, without me having to click more. I find this configurability and power something that Google's own "perso
  • I can confirm that it works better than Google on at least one search. I was looking for a friend's email just yesterday and I spent about 20 minutes with Google and got nowhere. With ask.com I got my answer on the first link!

    ask.com is definitely going to be something I will consider using.

    Unfortunately I can't post my search string, because it's personal, but I'll mention that it's three words: first two are my friend's nickname and the third ward is his first real name. My friend has a very unique nic
  • by wardk (3037) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:04PM (#15027054) Journal
    to google when I entered google in the search area.

    now if MS can pull of something like this....
  • Apparently Ask.com is now (or was it always?) powerd by Teoma's search database.

    I just gave it a try ("emperor constantine") and on that search it does seem to give notably crap-free results. I'll stick with Google, but I've added Ask.com to my search bookmarks that I resort to when the Goog fails me.
  • From TFA:
    the top of the page, above the ads, featured a Smart Answer box that included a picture of Ted, an excerpt from a biography, direct links to his official site, an encyclopedia article and other images of him.

    If I look on the Italian ask.com, I see nothing of all this. Just a dull grey thing bar. www.ask.com redirects me to it.ask.com, here.

    However if I use the search query URL and I delete the "it." I see the described features.

    It would be OK for me to use the English language version, but

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:12PM (#15027134)
    Why is "ask.com" considered a competitor? After all, "ask.com" still serves Google Ads. (How do I know? My ads are served on ask.com and I know I only bought them through Google...)
  • Is it just me or is ebay always the first result when using ask.com ?
  • with a Firefox plugin [ackroyd.de], which has existed for quite some time and doesn't require you to move the mouse over the binoculars making for more productive use. The extension also works with Yahoo! search and has screenshots for a lot more sites than ask.com currently has.
  • by klui (457783) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:27PM (#15027269)
    Japanese. I'd guess the same will be true for Chinese characters. Ask.com has a long, long way to go. Previews are a gimmick. I can't see the text on the website. And it sucks unnecessary bandwidth while not everything has a preview.
  • You can have many of these fine features with Google as well, using Firefox extensions such as GooglePreview [mozilla.org], CustomizeGoogle [customizegoogle.com], and LookAhead [mozdev.org]. You can even jump over and search ask.com (and many others) with one extra click, if you wanna.

    Just saying.
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@devinm o o re.com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:32PM (#15027314) Homepage Journal
    The preview feature is useless because 1) it's not on every page that comes back and 2) it's not updated live. What is the point, really? Here's what i'd see in 2 seconds? I'll just spend the 2 seconds, who cares! It's much nicer to have, oh i dunno, a longer summary like Google has.
    • The preview feature is useless because 1) it's not on every page that comes back and 2) it's not updated live.

      1) Just because it doesn't come for every site doesn't make it useless. It clearly has a use for pages that it works on. It may be less useful but it not useless.

      2) The fact that it's not updated live does not make it useless either. It is quite useful, for instance, in quickly determining if a site is a link-farm or is going to load some awful flash piece of crap.
  • I'm sorry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mike Savior (802573)
    But ever since Google started expanding things well beyond search, I literally had forgotten that there are other search engines out there. Only when I see a headline concerning Google's competition or see someone using Yahoo or the like, am I reminded there are alternatives. I don't know if that's good or bad, and I'm well aware Google isn't perfect, but if they can affect people as profoundly as they have me, then Jeeves and competitors will just be putting work in for nothing. But this is probably just m
  • by drix (4602)
    Now I have to switch my webmail, mapping site, news site, aggregator, financial site ...

    You don't earn your fanboy wings for nothin.
  • More on Ask.com (Score:2, Informative)

    by packdel99 (964751)
    These posts have more about what's new, enhanced, etc. http://www.resourceshelf.com/2006/03/askcoms-new-l ook-scores-big-points.html [resourceshelf.com] http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php /3587686 [searchenginewatch.com] http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6317186.ht ml [libraryjournal.com] The image database has also been revamped. http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php /3580061 [searchenginewatch.com]
  • Here is how search engine shares and growth compare over the last few quarters: chart [battellemedia.com]. Doesn't look peachy for Ask.
  • by NthDegree256 (219656) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:14PM (#15027753)
    Yeah, yeah, but Google is a verb now. Try and compete with that, Ask.com.

    ... what?
  • In my quick testing I was surprised to how much alike ask.com was to google.com. The simple query page is nice, just like google's and maybe it is wrong to complain about that. But the results page felt like it could have been straight from Google; Don't they want to differentiate themselves somewhat? It seems hard to compete with Google if it comes across as wanting to look like Google.

    I liked to possibility to save some hits though and will give ask.com a try next time I need to search for something.

  • Ask actually correctly places Playa Vista (a relatively new neighborhood in Los Angeles) [ask.com], whereas on Google simply points at downtown LA [google.com].
  • Where is Jeeves?
    After ten years of service, helping millions of users find what they want, Jeeves has decided to finally retire from his duties. He felt the time was right, convinced by the vastly-evolved technology of the new Ask.com that he could take a well-earned rest from his work of the previous decade. All of us at Ask.com wish him well in his next adventure.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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