Ask Jeeves Introduces Famous People Search

Ask Jeeves has expanded its Smart Search feature, adding "direct answers" with biographical information about famous people.

Direct answers for famous people appear in a box at the top of a search result page, with a picture, short biography and additional links for more information. These links vary depending on what the person is famous for. For example, results for David Bowie include links for pictures, news, products, filmography and discography.

Pictures, news and product links are provided by Ask Jeeves in partners Picsearch, Moreover and Pricegrabber. Discographies come from AllMusic.com, and filmographies are provided by the Internet Movie Database. For some famous people, a link to an official web site will be offered.

While famous people search is useful for people of unquestionable fame, the service is inconsistent, providing information for some celebrities but not for others of seemingly similar stature. For example, you'll get results for Colin Powell but not Condoleza Rice. Similarly, you will see a direct answer for Bugs Bunny but not for Daffy Duck.

Some other examples:

William Shakespeare
Golda Meir
David Beckham
Amelia Earhart
George Boole

A Taxonomy of Search Engine Spam

Search engine spam, though not as overtly visible as its sibling email spam, is nonetheless a huge problem. A new paper, authored by Stanford University professors Zoltan Gyongyi and Hector Garcia-Molina, does a good job of describing the various techniques and methods used by spammers to subvert web search results.

From the introduction to the paper:

"To provide quality services, it is critical for search engines to address web spam. Search engines currently fight spam with a variety of often manual techniques, but as far as we know, they still lack a fully effective set of tools for combating it. We believe that the first step in combating spam is understanding it, that is, analyzing the techniques the spammers use to mislead search engines."

Web Spam Taxonomy (PDF)
This paper presents a comprehensive taxonomy of current spamming techniques, which the authors believe can help in developing appropriate countermeasures.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

Is Google the future of email?...
CNET Apr 12 2004 11:02AM GMT
South Korean Internet portal files anti-trust suit against Microsoft...
AFP via Yahoo Apr 12 2004 10:31AM GMT
Startup tracks your interests to customize a news search...
Seattle Times Apr 12 2004 8:20AM GMT
When you've got to Google better, ask an expert...
The New Zealand Herald Apr 12 2004 5:38AM GMT
Google plays down Microsoft search plans...
CNET Asia Apr 12 2004 2:47AM GMT
Can Google Hit It Out Of The Park Again?...
Business Week Apr 11 2004 10:12PM GMT
Yahoo's search well worth it...
The Mercury Apr 11 2004 2:37PM GMT
ICANN to Claim VeriSign Suit Violates Free-Speech Law...
PC Magazine Apr 9 2004 10:15AM GMT
Yahoo shares soar on strong earnings...
IHT Apr 9 2004 9:58AM GMT
Study: S.F. Area Has Most Wi-Fi Hot Spots...
San Jose Mercury News Apr 9 2004 3:28AM GMT
The 100 Percent Solution for Online Advertising...
Internet.com Apr 9 2004 3:25AM GMT
Mesothelioma brings in search-engine bucks...
Washington Times Apr 9 2004 2:21AM GMT
Google This!...
Smart Money Apr 9 2004 1:31AM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was About.com's Web Search Guide.