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Saturday, November 11, 2006

ChaCha: Human Powered Search

ChaCha uses live search guides (people) to help you find what you're looking for. Apparently, these guides get paid $5-10 an hour. While this might appear to be a coup for natural language search, ChaCha is a really horrible search engine.

First, because the search results are misleading and inaccurate. Sponsored listings are hard to distinguish from actual search results (the top 5 results are sponsored links, but they're numbered just like regular results). Although it looks like their ad inventory isn't filled up yet, so sponsored links only appear for certain searches.

Second, the results are skewed. Guide results are given too much weight so when do a search for Google you get "distance from earth to sun" as your first result. Similarly, a search for DNA gives you a site on paganism as your first real search result (#6). This might get ironed out as more searches are conducted, but right now a search guide has a lot of power over a page's ranking.

Still, it might be fun to check it out and have one of the guides help you through a search. You can chat with guides while they do a search, and later rate their performance.

ChaCha

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