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Many MSN Direct Answers Now Online

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When MSN rereleased their search beta last November, they joined several other general purpose web engines offering direct answers on search results pages. At that point, these types of results seemed to appear for very few queries but with today's official launch, I'm noticing many more direct answers.

Direct answers and search shortcuts continue to gain momentum as way that can an search engine can save the searcher effort while at the same time delivering them an answer or a direct link from a trusted sources. In many ways, this is a prelude to search engines becoming answer engines for certain types of "ready reference" queries.

Shortcuts and direct answers were first introduced by AltaVista in 2002. Since that time, Ask Jeeves (they regularly add Smart Search options), Yahoo, Google, and most recently AOL have joined in. We have an overview and links to what each of these services offer in this blog post.

MSN offers direct answers for several types of queries on search results pages. Material comes from their Encarta encyclopedia. Here are a few examples:

+ Mathematical (via their web calculator)
5x2
cos 45 degrees
Btw, the first web engine calculator was introduced by AllTheWeb in April 2003.

+ Definitions
Define baseball
What is a dog

+ Conversions
How many feet in one mile
How many pints are in 18 quarts?

+ Geographical Data
Capital of Canada
What is the mass of Pluto?

+ Sports
Who won the World Series in 1979?
Who is Barry Bonds?

+ History
Who was Jimmy Carter's Vice President?
What was the Battle of Waterloo?

+ Popular Culture Biographies
Who are the Rolling Stones?
Who is Donald Trump

+ Nutrition
How many calories in a strawberry?
How many carbohydrates in peas?

Finally, for many pop music solo artists and groups, MSN will place bio info on the serp along with direct links to MSN Music.


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