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Nuggets: Search Via SMS For UK, Sort Of

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Nuggets is a new meta search engine that lets you get back answers to questions via SMS, if you're in the UK. That's ideal for those taking part in pub quizzes -- though you might find yourself banned by the quiz organizers, if you do so.

More important, however, is the fact that Nuggets "cannot guarantee for the correctness or quality of the answer supplied," as it says on its FAQ page. That's because the system relies on sending your query to an unnamed major search engine, then analyzing the pages listed to extract what it thinks is the correct answer.

Whether the answer is actually correct will depend on if the source material itself has it right and more important, whether the extraction works properly. I tried two questions, at 50p each (about US $0.80):

  • How old is Sergey Brin?

The answer should have been 32, I believe. It definitely should not have been, "unknown were eves-dropping on 2 old friends as they reminisced about the."

What's that all about? I'm guessing the query went over to Yahoo, which for how old is sergey brin brings back an article about me interviewing him last year at SES San Jose the day before his 30th birthday. A human doing the math could work out his current age. Automatic extraction, however, failed.

  • When was Yahoo founded?

That was my second question, and I'd have been happy with April 1994. I wasn't happy with "unknown 1968 Intel is founded. unknown 1969 doc log modules mqa-send.sh mynuggest nuggets -deployed.cig nuggets -testing.cig table temp ARPANET is f." Where'd that one come from? I took a quick look but couldn't figure it out.

So much for the pub quiz. As an alternative, you can try Any Question Answered. It's more expensive, but humans are also involved. Short write-up on the service here: U.K. Mobile Users Get Any Question Answered.


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