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Ask has less money than Google, fewer resources and, accordingly, less frequent spidering and updating, and a smaller index.
Nonetheless, as far as I can see it produces much better results. Ask is naturally more difficult to game, and no Ask rep has needed to ask webmasters to rat on their colleagues - because it hasn't needed to.
Couldn't webmasters be the kingmakers in the search game? Google became popular with the masses because it was popular with geeks in the first instance. Couldn't we gently urge the masses towards Ask - at least as an alternative. (I'm a hopeless dreamer).
Diversity is good for everyone, and the big G monopoly is rather worrying.
I am told. by years end, "Edison" will be rolled out. So we should expect more from the results.
We have another topic going where we are discussing Ask and their mishandling of 301, 302, 404, its a mess!
Ask cannot afford to wait until years end. At that time, the other three will surely have done something to expand their marketshare and take away from Ask which has lost 50+% of its marketshare in this year. Does that give us a strong indication of where they are going?
They can release Edison, Franklin, Washington, Lincoln, Nixon, etc. I just feel its too late for them. They'd be better off getting acquired by Yahoo! or MSN.
And if they keep up with their current media campaign, the commercials, the billboards, the "shock" style advertising, there is still room for them to hit bottom.
After watching the commercials, the consumer has to be even more confused about what the heck the algorithm is. And, do they care at this point? Ask is sending a confusing message to the general public. The message is clear for Webmasters but Joe Public responds just like those people on the commercials; HUH? Next....
Heck, Gigablast stands a better chance...