There are two spins on the alternative search model that have never quite worked the way I wanted them to: natural language searching, and human expert-driven searching. ChaCha is a well-known example of the latter, where paid human experts help with your search questions, but the quality of answers tends to be hit or miss. Ask.com is an example of the former, and the company put a lot of effort into natural language searching, but it never quite worked properly. AltSearchEngines has an interesting item up on Weegy, an unusual spin on the concept of human expert-driven search. I’m not going to claim that Weegy’s answers are perfect, but after asking it a few questions that a web worker might ask, I got impressively good answers. Here’s how it works, with an example dialogue I had with it seen below.
You can ask Weegy an example question without signing up for it. If you’re using Internet Explorer, an animated personality, as seen above, will give you a visual and voice response to your question. You’ll also get a text response sent directly from a human expert. I tested Weegy in Firefox and Opera, and got both the voice response and the text response, but the animation is only for IE. I selected the category “Computers and Technology” to isolate the types of human experts that I wanted, and there is also an Electronics category.
After you’ve tried Weegy, it will ask you to sign up, but you need only supply any email address to validate your account. After I signed up, I typed in the question seen above, about free online calendaring applications. I was expecting the “expert” that I got to give me an obvious answer, such as Google Calendar, but instead the expert recommended a choice I’d never heard of: Bravenet. After taking a look at Bravenet, it does indeed look like a useful free, calendaring application, and it took me about 20 seconds to get my answer.
In the screenshot below, I decided to up the difficulty level. I asked if anyone could recommend a free online resource for learning CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). As you can see below, an expert named Agent1 provided an answer: W3Schools.com. How would I rate the quality level of this answer? My answer to that is in this post that I wrote here on WWD. As you can see from the post, the very first recommendation I made there for learning CSS was W3Schools’ free online tutorial. It is indeed excellent, and exhaustive, and I’ve recommended W3Schools’ tutorials more than once here. Note that Agent1 has a rating of 52 points on Weegy, where experts accumulate points when question askers deem their answers to be good.
I asked another question where I posed as an Internet Explorer user seeking the best alternative browser, and an expert who had 852 Weegy points came back with a complete explanation of why Firefox is the best choice, including discussion of Firefox extensions. Firefox is my browser of choice, and the reason is definitely all the useful extensions. Weegy hit 3-for-3 in these first dialogues I had with it, and no answer took longer than 30 seconds for an expert to handle.
This science will never be perfect, but for web worker questions, general tech questions, and hardware questions in Weegy’s Electronics category, the experts I came across did a good job. Weegy is also fun. Give it a try, and if you get any hilariously bad answers, or remarkably erudite ones, let us know in the comments.