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Ask.com Ends Search Effort

     

bill

1:26 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Another one bites the dust...
IAC's Diller Surrenders to Google, Cuts Jobs, Ends Ask.com Search Effort [bloomberg.com]

Ask.com, the Internet search engine that media mogul Barry Diller acquired for $1.85 billion to compete with Google Inc., is cutting 130 engineering jobs and conceding much of its search business to competitors.

Ask.com, a unit of Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, is dismissing engineers based in Edison, New Jersey, and in Hangzhou, China, and ceasing work on its algorithmic search technology, according to Ask.com President Doug Leeds.

The search unit will consolidate its engineering operations at its headquarters in Oakland, California, and focus its resources on developing its online question-and-answer service. Twenty of the engineers currently working in New Jersey will be asked to relocate to Oakland, the company said.

Leeds said that Google has become too powerful a competitor to justify Ask.com’s continued pursuit of those search users.

graeme_p

2:59 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So competition is search is reduced to a duopoly, and both of them produce similar results in a similar interface?

I never thought that highly of Ask, but at least they were a token alternative. The remaining competitors are tiny compared to Ask, let alone Google and Bing.

maximillianos

3:34 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think we all saw this one coming. Didn't realize they had so many engineers working on search.

weeks

3:43 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think we all saw this one coming. Didn't realize they had so many engineers working on search.


I wonder what that was like the last 12 months, working at Ask.com as a software engineer.

BillyS

4:10 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Wow, that's really too bad. Even with a small market share, I would think the effort paid for itself.

McMohan

4:46 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Not surprised. Irony is I happened to open ask.com after a very long time hearing the news of its closure.

CenSin

6:15 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So, it's no need to notify Ask.com about updates of your Blog anymore. :(

tangor

7:15 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I doubt few of us were surprised by this announcement, but I do miss those early days when ask, infoseek, hotbot, etc were all running hot and heavy. The web was more "interesting" back then.

yaix2

8:15 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So competition is search is reduced to a duopoly,

For now. I hope Blekko turns out to be useful. I am using it regularly now as my standard SE. The more people use it, the better their algo will become.

That Ask closed down search is not really surprising.

Sgt_Kickaxe

10:15 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google and Bing are forcing too many paid options in front of natural results, too bad Ask couldn't hold on until that crap gets regulated. I wouldn't be surprised if regulation against monopoly by default software inclusion levels the playing field given how blatant it is.

tangor

10:47 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't be surprised if regulation against monopoly by default software inclusion levels the playing field given how blatant it is.


The regulations (if any should actually appear...not any time soon) are going to be government friendly wherein tax/fee is applied so the government can get a piece of the action. Google has grown up and become the railroad, airlines, AT&T (communications), TV, Radio, Film, etc... all industries heavily regulated with tax and fee and all this coming soon to a user like you (and me and all the rest). Just as soon as it can be codified to your USE of the internet, ie. your ISP/HOST/SERVER. (Hidden costs/taxes/fees) Mark my words.

The game plan Google played early (and was not sufficiently fought when it needed to be fought) was cache results of bot search and generally ruled by the courts as okay. That was not IMHO "fair use" as that cache is the complete work of the creator retained for indefinite time, displayed at the cache site's determination at will. We can thank the idiots who created the Internet for having no clue as regards copyrights and future problems while they got their geek on...

I will remember that ask did not quite go down that route!

dataguy

1:05 pm on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've spent most of the past 5 years getting more traffic from Ask than I did from Yahoo. Hate to see them go.

ChanandlerBong

1:07 pm on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The game plan Google played early (and was not sufficiently fought when it needed to be fought) was cache results of bot search and generally ruled by the courts as okay. That was not IMHO "fair use" as that cache is the complete work of the creator retained for indefinite time, displayed at the cache site's determination at will. We can thank the idiots who created the Internet for having no clue as regards copyrights and future problems while they got their geek on...


...and they've done/are doing the same with youtube and google books.

basically, by the time the new sheriff gets to town, with a judge in his wake, the bandits will have already bought up all the land in the county.

xoogler_sea

5:06 pm on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)



Cripes, Bartz penciled out how much her engineering cost and scrapped it not surprising ASK did as well, GOOD search is still hard to do and even harder at scale, its like a Model T with a Ferarri engine and we all know how much it costs to change the oil on a Ferarri. Even the Blekko's of the wrold will crumble under the volume a google does, their algos just aren't built for that much volume hitting them.

Sgt_Kickaxe

12:19 am on Nov 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Great points Tangor. Perhaps webmasters can start using the "<meta name="robots" content="noarchive" />" tag (that's not a noindex tag, just a "don't grab a full copy kthx" tag) more diligently since it can actually be argued that we're making the content available ourselves.

I used ask a lot in its early years, not so much lately since it's not at the tip of my fingers when I know exactly what I'm looking for to begin with. I don't remember ever getting frustrated by ask.

Dude_S

12:30 am on Nov 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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and we all know how much it costs to change the oil on a Ferarri.

It depresses me to admit it, but I don't. :-(

Back to topic, it's not so much the algorithm only, but the huge capital expenses to operate data centers for crawling and serving results. Have you ever thought about how much power it takes to serve results for any obscure search term withing spli-seconds, picking from billions of web pages in your index and handling millions of such requests each second?

I read an article in Wired 2 or 3 years ago about search data centers and it was mind boggling. Not just the computing power, but also the huge amount of electric power they consume. They mentioned a case where a data center collapsed a local power grid and another where the expansion of the center was limited by the amount of available power long before they ran out of rack space.

Dude_S

2:03 am on Nov 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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typo above: "within split-seconds"

BTW, found the article:
[wired.com...]

It even specifically mentions Ask on pg 3:
"THE FASTEST-GROWING search engine besides Google isn't Microsoft or Yahoo or AOL. It's Ask.com, which has seen its total searches grow 20 percent this year. Like Google, Ask.com has built a petascale computer out of commodity CPUs, hard disks, and RAM chips."

Those were better times I guess...

walrus

3:32 pm on Nov 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What if i ask the NON Search ASK where i can find car parts in Vancouver ? Seems search and Q&A are not that far apart. We query the search engine, the result is an answer.

frontpage

5:26 pm on Nov 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Goodbye to Ask Jeeves Butler search nostalgia.

dataguy

2:54 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Wonder why the Ask Jeeves bot is still crawling my site like crazy. IP's verified. Any ideas?

almighty monkey

12:54 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Remember when Jeeves gimmick was you asked it questions, and it would try to give you sites that answered?

And how it didn't really work and the answer to just about any question was 'Who cares, buy some viagra and look at some titties'.

np2003

5:10 am on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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When I search Ask.com, I swear the results exactly replicated Google, I actually thought they just sourced results from G...
 

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