Ask Jeeves Adds Zoom to Web Searches

Ask Jeeves will cut down on search time with a query refinement enhancement it calls "Zoom". The feature zooms in to refine a search and zooms out for broader search results. Zoom identifies and examines concepts, using clustering technology to roll search suggestions into categories that can either narrow or expand a search.

Zoom is an evolution of the company's previous "Teoma" search technology. The official description of Teoma is a technology that segregates the Web into "topic communities." When Zoom identifies and examines concepts, it looks at the relationships between these communities in its index.

"Zoom brings recommended queries to the user-suggestions that allow searches to be refined, or associated topics explored, with a click of a button. Zoom guides users to exactly what they are looking for fast," said Daniel Read, vice president of product management at Ask Jeeves.

Historically, Ask Jeeves has differed from other search engines because users enter queries in natural language rather than just keywords. Proprietary technology known as Smart Search is what powers the natural language query system, but has been limited to retrieving results from a still pool of structured data.

Today, Ask Jeeves also announced that has devised a method to mine unstructured data in "real-time" that it calls "Web Answers", greatly expanding its search results. "Web Answers allows Ask Jeeves to answer far more queries than would be possible using editors or structured databases," remarked Read. "By mining unstructured Web data, we can tap the billions of pages in our index for answers."

While Web Answers may draw from more sources, the relevance of those results may be diluted.

"While Web Answers expands Ask Jeeves' ability to provide direct answers to questions, a caveat is in order. Unlike the information delivered by Smart Answers, which is drawn from authoritative reference sources, Web Answers may—or may not—be authoritative or even accurate," wrote Chris Sherman and Gary Price in their Search Engine Watch blog which is published by Jupiter Media. "In fact, some Web Answers may be flat-out wrong, or may be satire (Al Gore invented the internet)."

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