Although we’ve blogged many times about search engines becoming answer engines for some types of queries with a variety of tools and services including Google “Q&A”, MSN “Instant Answers”, Ask Jeeves “Smart Answers”, and Yahoo Wikipedia shortcuts, we haven’t mentioned AOL’s (quick) answer feature found at the top of some web results pages.
An AOL (quick) answer should not be confused with AOL “Snapshot” that provides facts, stats, links, etc. to related content from other web sites (including Time Warner properties) that have been assembled by human editors. Here’s an example of an AOL Snapshot.
A (quick) answer comes from material autonomously mined from open web sources like Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, IMDB, and other sites delivered at the very top of a web results page.
(quick) answer is powered by technology from Teragram based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their website offers info on the specific technology that AOL users to power (quick) answer (called Direct Answer) along info about other categorization and taxonomy technology they market.