July 15, 2008

Ask.com Ranks George Clooney as Users Favorite Batman

With the highly-anticipated July 18th release of The Dark Knight on the horizon, record reports of ticket pre-sales and of course the Oscar buzz around the late Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker, Ask.com retired to our own bat cave (aka our search banks) to reveal searching habits around this soon-to-be box office hit. Just as we suspected, users are conducting searches on everything from actors who have played Batman to directors to Heath Ledger himself...

Four mega-stars have played the role of Gotham City’s "Caped Crusader" over the years, and according to our search banks, George Clooney from Batman and Robin reins Bruce Wayne supreme with over 67% of searches followed by Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), Val Kilmer (Batman Forever) and finally, Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns).

When it comes to villains, the clear winner is The Joker - - most likely attributed to Heath Ledger, who is also one of the top recent searches on Ask.com.

As far as directors go, data from Ask.com shows that Tim Burton is the favorite garnering 98% of searches, followed by Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight and finally Joel Schumacher.

In terms of popularity by movie title, The Dark Knight had almost three times the number of searches than runner-up Batman. Here is the full ranked list:

1. The Dark Knight
2. Batman
3. Batman Begins
4. Batman and Robin
5. Batman Forever
6. Batman Returns

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July 02, 2008

Ask.com is Grillin' and Chillin' for the 4th of July

For some the 4th of July is all about fireworks and going to the beach. Grilling fans know better. It’s all about grillin' and chillin'. So, Ask.com decided to get to the “meat” of the matter and find out who came out on top this year -- the hamburger or hot dog?

According to Ask.com’s online searches, the answer is clear: hamburgers outweigh hot dogs in popularity by 33%!

Not to forget about something sweet to finish off the BBQ, we wanted to test the adage that there’s “nothing more American than apple pie,” and a look at our recent recipe searches proves that it’s absolutely true. Apple most certainly reins supreme accounting for 42% of all recent pie searches. Other fresh seasonal favorites that round out the top three are Key Lime and Strawberry Rhubarb, perfect for summer celebrations and get togethers.

Check out our complete list of the most popular pies on Ask.com:

Ask.com's Top 10 Pie Searches
1.  Apple
2.  Key Lime
3.  Strawberry Rhubarb
4.  Pecan
5.  Peach
6.  Blueberry
7.  Pumpkin
8.  Lemon Meringue
9.  Coconut Cream
10. Banana Cream

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December 11, 2007

Ask Launches AskEraser

Privacy. It's a topic we discuss quite a bit here at Ask.com. But we we do more than talk about it. We listen to user feedback, industry debate, the CDT and many other sources. And we've responded by launching AskEraser on Ask.com and Ask UK.

Search Privacy When Enabled

AskEraser is a new privacy feature on the Ask site that provides searchers with unprecedented control over their search activity data. You can turn on AskEraser at any time and start searching Ask.com with the confidence that your search activity data will be completely deleted from Ask.com servers within a number of hours.

Since initially announcing the project earlier this year, we've been working hard to make sure that AskEraser hits on all key pieces of user data across all our servers and most importantly, is drop-dead simple for our users. We think we've come up with a clean and simple approach that truly puts the power in the hands of all users.

Our Ten-Second How-To

Starting today, you can turn on AskEraser by simply clicking the "AskEraser" link at the top of the Ask.com home page or search results pages (see image below).

You'll then get a dialog box containing a "Turn on AskEraser" button.

Click "Turn On AskEraser." From that point forward, your search activity will be deleted from our servers.

AskEraser will remain "on" across multiple browser sessions until you turn it off by clicking the "Off" link that will appear in the header.

A Few Key Points to Remember:

- When AskEraser is enabled, your search activity will be completely deleted from Ask servers within a number of hours (we're not being sneaky here - we'll get rid of your search activity ASAP. See the AskEraser FAQ for more information on the deletion process).
- "Search activity" includes your search terms, clicks, IP address and any user/session IDs assigned to you.
- You can turn AskEraser on (or off) at any time and you'll have a constant reminder at the top of the page when AskEraser is on.
- You can read more in the AskEraser FAQ and also brush up on our updated Privacy Policy.

All Part of the Plan

Not long ago, we stated our commitment to completely disassociate search history from a user's IP address and User ID information after 18 months. AskEraser is yet another step toward greater user privacy…and it's not our last. Next year, AskEraser will be launched across the other Ask.com locales, at which point its breadth of coverage will be even further increased.

We're really excited about the possibilities for this and other privacy initiatives and are  looking forward to what's in store for next year. In the meantime, try out AskEraser and let us know what you think.

Michael Leo
Senior Product Manager

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May 19, 2006

Data Mining and Search

I noticed in the news that data mining specialist Rakesh Agrawal joined Microsoft Search Labs. Dr. Agrawal is perhaps best known for his work co-authoring a paper with Dr. Tomasz Imielinski and Dr. Arun Swami in 1993 on data mining, titled Mining Association Rules between Sets of Items in Large Databases.

I thought it was worth noting that Agrawal's co-author, Dr. Imielinski, is a member of our New Jersey research and development center. This Association Rules paper is one of the most frequently cited papers ever on the subject of data mining and Tomasz has received several international awards recognizing the long-term impact of his work.

On a personal note, I first met Tomasz in the late 1990's when I was a technical director at Dun & Bradstreet, seeking out ways to understand and present the massive amounts of business data being captured.  He was both computer science chair at Rutgers University (where else?) and a leading expert in data mining and mobile computing, among other things. His stories of the vibrant ideas and opportunities he found at Ask.com helped to attract me here as an employee last year -- and he was right.

As a bonus, Dr. Imielinski also plays one heck of a mean guitar, in blues and heavy metal, writing original songs with local band System Crash. The band has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Newark Star-Ledger, and The Home News Tribune (New Brunswick).
Full disclosure: I'm also the bass player.

System Crash

James Jeude
Ask.com Senior Product Manager

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