Indiana University and the human-powered Internet search engine ChaCha are partnering to create a one-stop virtual reference desk that connects students with an array of experts and other help. They will debut a Web-based search platform this semester allowing students, faculty and others to look for information using a machine-based search that marks the results recommended by IU experts. Visitors who need help finding information or refining their search can chat online with an expert in real time.
ChaCha hires humans to supplement the automated search results with customized research. For the IU version of ChaCha, the initial experts will primarily be the university's librarians and information-technology staff; they won't automatically become part of ChaCha's search service for the general public.