Hires Real People to Answer Questions

Stick it, Jeeves
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2010 8:57 AM CDT CEO Jim Lanzone, center, without glasses, poses with employees in the company's offices in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 1, 2007.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – Big news: still exists! Bigger news: It’s going to start ripping off Yahoo Answers, Quora, and all the other Web 2.0 question-answering services! The search site, which apparently still gets a lot of traffic, has launched a beta service called “Ask the Community.” Users can pose a question that an algorithm-based search engine might have a problem with, and get an answer within about 10 minutes. The answer will then be posted online for others’ benefit.

Or at least, that’s the hope. The company’s currently paying a few hundred people to kick-start the service, but hopes to eventually replace them with volunteers, who’ll be sent questions on subjects they’re knowledgeable about. To avoid wasting their time, an algorithm will weed out questions a search engine could easily answer. thinks its still-recognizable brand name will make the service a hit. “We sort of lost our way,” President Dough Leeds tells Wired. “People were saying ‘Please help me answer my question. If I wanted links, I would go to Google.’ ”

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