Saturday, October 07, 2006

Search online with a concierge

ChaCha is a new search engine (in "experimental" alpha) that lets you search by connecting you to a real person called a "guide", in addition to the traditional search that everyone is used to. Your guide is a person who is an expert at finding information on the web and is knowledgeable on the subject of your search. The idea is that the guide can filter your search results and provide you more relevant results on the topic of your search with their expertise.

When you submit your search, an alert is sent to all appropriate guides who are logged into the system. Because your search is sent to a real person, you can submit your search in a natural language, like "What are the symptoms of cataract?". Once you are connected with a guide you can chat with him/her to refine your query or provide more specifics on what exactly you are looking for.

The guides are paid for their services and are rated based on their performance. You can rate a guide between 1 and 5 stars at the end of your search session. ChaCha does not disclose how much guides are paid or if their star rating is used to determine their pay.

Searching with human assistance has been tried before by Ask and by Yahoo! Answers, but the convenience of having a human help you in real-time is what sets ChaCha apart.

In all my attempts on searching with a guide, I was told that "All chacha guides are currently searching with others." and I should try it again soon. I was also presented with a set of links that were relevant to my search results. While I can understand that they are new and only have a few guides on the payroll, I do not think that with a dearth of guides the service could be useful. They really need to ramp up on the number of guides.


[via PC Magazine]


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1 comment:

Chris Meadows said...

If anyone wants an invitation to become a guide, just email me and I'll be happy to send one along.