LookSmart Live Looks-Up Answers
From The Search Engine Report
August 2, 1999
Looking for an answer? Look no further than LookSmart, which is providing custom research to frustrated searchers through its new LookSmart Live program.
The concept is simple. Using the LookSmart Live form, you tell LookSmart what you are looking for. The request gets passed on to one of 80 editors involved in the project, and within 24 hours, you get an email back with your answer.
Sound too good to be true? I tested it anonymously, and it really did work. I got a nice response listing several web sites relating to my question, along with categories and information located within LookSmart itself.
LookSmart says it launched the program to better serve users who feel overwhelmed when performing searches. "People are actually pretty frustrated with search. A significant minority of searchers on the Internet, regardless of which service they use, are not getting what they are looking for," said Damian Smith, Director of LookSmart Live.
In the coming weeks, LookSmart Live will transition into a more community-oriented format. The idea is that users will be able to share their knowledge with each other, via forums. Ask a question, and another forum member will provide an answer. There will also be an associated ratings system, so that you can tell at-a-glance the reputation of someone providing an answer. Furthermore, should you be dissatisfied with answers on the forum, LookSmart will then send its own editors out to do some research, Smith said.
So just like the Open Directory and Go Guides, another search service is looking to leverage users actively in organizing the web. Aside from benefiting the services themselves, these new outlets allow the general web public to easily be part of a community without having to publish web pages or join something like Yahoo Clubs.
"I think the industry has remarkably quickly locked on to web pages as the only way to publish information on the web," Smith said. "We think this type of community bulletin board model is an easier way of self-expression. Instead of stetting up home pages, we think it will be equally valuable for you to share your expertise by participating in this community.
LookSmart is promoting the service in two places, via a small link on the home page and via links that appear within the search results themselves. It's this second placement that is really driving traffic to LookSmart Live, and Smith said that hundreds of questions per day are being answered. In fact, you can watch incoming questions appear in a special box on the LookSmart Live home page. You'll also find answers to popular and unusual questions archived on that page.
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