Ask Jeeves: Metacrawler With A Twist

Ask Jeeves: Metacrawler With A Twist

From The Search Engine Report
Aug. 5
, 1997

Metacrawlers are a popular way to send a search query to several search engines at once. But the Ask Jeeves service puts a spin on the normal situation. It provides matching web pages, but results are usually prefaced by questions aimed at helping users find the information they want.

For example, a search for "Bill Clinton" brings back a results pages topped by these questions:

+ Where can I find information about US President Bill Clinton
+ Who ran for U.S. President in 1996?

Selecting one of the questions takes the user to a site that answers the question. Matching web pages from Alta Vista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos and WebCrawler are also displayed, with each page listed in a drop-down box associated with each search engine.

The questions, and matching sites, are selected by editors and then associated with keywords, so that they will appear as matches for appropriate queries. The editors also test the questions as extensively as possible to make sure that the question comes up correctly when asked.

Selecting a web page from the results makes it appear within a frame, rather than taking the user away from the Ask Jeeves web site. Some users may appreciate this as a way to easily request other pages, if the first answer doesn't suit. If not, use the small "Full" icon in the upper left hand corner of the left hand frame in order to see the results unframed.

The service went into beta in mid-April 1997 and opened fully on June 1.

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