What Should Ask do?

I’ve been asked to participate in an Ask project, organised by SEOMoz and Graywolf. They’ve asked a few people to come with answers to the following question:

Come up with 5 suggestions for improving ask.com

Hmmm. I’m not sure I know.

I could be flippant, and say:

  • Give up
  • Invent a time machine, then go back and buy start-up Google
  • Bring back the Butler

Seriously, though. What would improve Ask.com?

I can think of two main things:

  • The problem with search is that people get presented with a list of pages, not answers. Ask need to concentrate on providing answers. To do this, they could introduce a system whereby if a searcher rephrases the query two or three times, the search engine prompts the user with an answer based on the previous query stream. Alter the interface to emphasise question answering, as opposed to searching.
  • Get webmasters on board by sharing the wealth and opportunity. It’s hard to get excited about web offerings that don’t offer us any money, or ways to make money. Many of us feel part of Google. We don’t feel part of Ask.

Why do readers think? Any suggestions for Ask.com? What would you do?

PS: Sorry to Graywolf for publishing an hour or so early. Time commitments are a bit different on my side of the world…

  1. BradBrad08-29-2006

    Peter here are my suggestions for Ask:

    1. Spider more deeply and agressively. Don’t avoid dynamic URL’s
    2. Freshen the index more frequently.
    3. Allow webmasters to submit their URL – yes it is a pain, but it gives a webmaster a stake in the Ask engine. It one way of getting webmasters involved in Ask.
    4. Increase the size of the index.

  2. randfishrandfish08-31-2006

    Peter – Sorry I didn’t jump in on this meme as promised. I’ll have to contribute at a later date. I have to agree about your point of bringing webmasters on board – it’s hard to overestimate the importance of the tech community in helping to build a brand like Ask. Just look at how Google was built on the backs of SysAdmins worldwide who made it the default homepage for years.

  3. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo08-31-2006

    Thanks Brad – 4. “4. Increase the size of the index.” Definately.

    No worries, Rand. Next time…;)

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