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October 26, 2006

You Do and/or May, In Fact, "Ask" (or "ask")

Q: What do Ask, Google, and Yahoo have in common?  

A: They all have really good Web search. And they all have well-known brand names.

As our colleagues at Google work to protect their brand from becoming a generic term for Web search, we're receiving lots of mail and calls asking us to clarify the difference between "ask" and "Ask" (as in "Ask.com®")

Funny you should ask.

The origin of "ask" goes back to Old English, and back from there to the Germanic languages and then even further back. It's one of those words that's been around so long you can see its ancestors across lots of languages, from Sanskrit (icchati "seeks, desires,") to Aramaic (aic "investigation,")  to Lithuanian (ieskau "to seek.")

Seeking, desiring, and investigating. You know, "asking."

So "ask" is an old word. And it's used all the time. As you can imagine, it's proven very costly for us (both in time and money) to define its usage and keep tabs on who's doing what where and with whom.

Here's a little guide to help you watch your Ask.

The "Rules" (loose as they may be)

* "Ask" does not mean "ask." Ask means "Web search"   and "search tools" and "smart" and "up-and-coming-growing-market-share-but-still-relatively-small-why-not-check-it-out."

* You may ask Yahoo and ask Google.

* You may not "Ask" on Ask Yahoo or Yahoo Answers, though you may "ask."

* You may ask Ask, but you may also search with Ask. A full question like "How old is Madonna?" will bring her age directly on the results page, and a keyword search for "Madonna photos" will work just fine.

* Regardless of gender, you may, of course Ask Directions, for example. You can also Ask Blogs and Feeds and other stuff.


To understand our point-of-view on how to use the word "Ask," let's take a look at some use cases.

Usage: Ask as noun, referring to Ask.com.

Example: I went to Ask, and did an everyday keyword search like I do on other engines, and now that I know I don't have to ask on Ask.

Usage: The upper-case "Ask" as verb, referring to a Web search conducted on Ask.com.

Example: I pulled up Ask.com to Ask "pumpkin pie recipes."

Usage: The lower-case "ask" as verb, referring to posing a question.

Example: If I may be so bold as to ask, will you join me in the Jacuzzi®? 


Q: Can I Ask on Google?

A: No, no, and no. You are welcome to ask on Google, however.

Q: Can I ask on Ask?

A: You can ask on Ask.com, but remember that you can also search on Ask.com.

Q: Do people Google on Ask?

A: Looking at our logs, people do seem to google on Ask.com. They type in "google" and go to Google. They also do this with Yahoo, eBay, Amazon etc. So you may find that you Yahoo on Google, eBay on Yahoo, and even Amazon on Amazon (if you were looking for books about the rainforest on that wonderful shopping site). Just this morning I Microsoft'd on the Ask.com Blog Search. Felt good.

More Fun with Verbs

The following examples are a bit more involved, but follow along to get the Big Picture:

Example: "I googled my date on Google. When we went out, I asked him about the night in Cabo."

Comments: Fine by Google, and fine by Ask. Though it would be smart in this case to also Ask about your date on Ask, to be thorough. And by Ask,  we of course mean "search the Web with keywords on Ask.com." For example, search "date name" cabo t-shirt contest.

Another example:

Example: "Timmy Asked on Ask for the link to Ask Yahoo. Later that day he also tried his question on Google Answers."

Comments: Note that Timmy did the right thing here-he used Ask.com to search the Web, and found his link to Yahoo to ask a question in plain  English. Here Timmy, Ask, and Yahoo all benefited. Google will share in the  fun too. Let's take a look.

Example: "While asking on Ask Yahoo, Timmy was referred to Google in hopes of googling for more answers. There he googled, and all was well."

Comments: What a wonderful time to be alive.

And a seasonal example to end with:

Halloween Example: "Looking for a swell Halloween costume, Sergey went to Ask and Asked "Halloween costume ideas" and received a Smart Answer at the top of the results page." Good work, Sergey, and good luck with your Olympic swimmer costume!

Remember, it's all there for the Asking.

-- Michael Ferguson, Ask.com: a funny guy with no actual knowledge of trademarks.  For real usage guidelines, click here

Posted by Ask.com Blog | Permalink


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» You Can Ask on Google, But Not Google On Ask from Search Marketing Gurus | Search Marketing Tips, Advice, Strategies
Yes, a bit confusing ... all this Googling, Asking, Yahooing, a Search Marketer can get confused! Imagine then the averae Joe who doesn't even realize a search engine is a search engine - they think it's a white box on a page were I type in and 'Get Lu... [Read More]

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Nice work there, Michael. That is a great parody of Google's silly post.

Posted by: Greg Linden | Oct 26, 2006 9:48:45 PM

Rumour has it, your President knows how to use 'The Ask'. As long as you're clarifying... :-)

Posted by: Steve Matthews | Oct 27, 2006 12:44:16 PM

A little positive satire never hurts.

Posted by: MultiZ | Oct 29, 2007 1:37:44 PM

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Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

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