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July 26, 2010

The New Ask.com is Here: What’s Your Question?

Back in November, Doug Leeds, President of Ask.com, shared this post providing a glimpse into the future of Ask.com. At the risk of sounding like a bad sci-fi movie, we’re excited to say the future starts now.

Today we’ve officially launched the public beta for the new Ask.com, which combines our proprietary answers technology (specifically tailored to extract questions and answers from the Web) with the human insight of the thriving Ask.com community drawn from our 87 million monthly uniques. Now available on an invite-only basis (you can request your invite here), the capability to pose questions to real people is now possible for those complex, subjective and/or time-sensitive queries that, no matter how advanced, computers simply can’t address.

That means that 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.

Why the re-energized focus on Q&A? From a macro trend perspective, the explosion of the social Web underscores both the cultural shift and massive technical innovation of the last 15 years. Simply put: people are using the Web as a conversational medium, ergo, consumers are increasingly asking questions (evidenced by demonstrated interest in Q&A from Google, Facebook and an entire cadre of start-ups).

From a product perspective, the new Ask.com is designed to fill some major holes left by search engines through a blend of technology and the strongest asset we have – our users.

Some product highlights we’re particularly proud of:

Proprietary technology designed for Q&A: Our semantic approach is not simply re-purposed search technology. We’ve taken the last year to enhance our offering to locate the most relevant, high-quality answer and display it right at the top of page (surfing through 10 blue links not required).

Largest index of questions and answers – 500 million “pairs” and growing: As the number one brand for asking questions, we have the world’s largest index of questions and answers with the ability to extract questions and matching answers from hundreds and thousands of Web sources.

The human element: To make our community the most effective, Ask.com has the ability to route questions to relevant people based on interests and expertise. This means only the right people will be asked to answer a specific question, reducing spam and question fatigue. Responses from our community will also be indexed and available (depending on level of freshness and relevance) to address future questions posed on Ask.com.

New look and feel: Our site now makes it abundantly clear we are razor-focused on empowering our users to ask and answer questions. You can now access trending information, including the day’s most popular questions, across multiple areas of the site. Learn more detail about our new UI here.

We’ve been heads down for more than a year working on this new Q&A-focused version of the site – both the underlying algorithmic technology and the community components. But today’s beta release is really just the tip of the iceberg. Our roadmap is full of developments that will make this value proposition really sing: leveraging your social network, accessing Q&A while on the go, and more are planned for the near future. Today is Ask’s first step in a multi-pronged strategy to ensure users get fast, concise answers to virtually any question they ask, any time, any place.

With that, please do request an invite to our community and start Asking away. And keep that product feedback coming!

Tony Gentile, SVP of Product & Lisa Kavanaugh, SVP of Technology

 

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A New Ask.com

Today is a big day for us here at Ask - we’re launching a new look and feel to our site as well as offering some exciting enhancements to our users’ question and answer experience.

In terms of UI, some of you may remember that we began testing this design back in April. Our goal, quite simply, is to showcase what Ask is all about - - delivering great answers to all of our users’ questions. To achieve this, we’ve put more emphasis on our popular questions section and made the Question of the Day available to everyone, even those who chose a custom theme.  We also listened to your feedback (thanks!) and rolled in new product enhancements, like improved site navigation.  Of course, you will notice there are many aesthetic changes too, such as a new logo and color palette that we hope you’ll enjoy (and if not, you can always select your own theme!).

These updates are all in preparation for some exciting new capabilities coming soon to Ask.  In conjunction with the new design rollout, we’re also launching a beta version of the site where you can get answers from real people - people who are part of the Ask user community. It’s perfect for those questions that need a personal response from someone who knows.  We encourage you to sign up for a beta invite for the opportunity to join us on our mission to provide the best answers to the millions of questions users like you ask on our site every day. 

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on the new site and thanks for Asking!

Penny Yao, Senior Product Manager & Ummair Waheed, Front-end Application Manager

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