Volume 8, Number 5 • May 2000
Aska and you may receive: commercial reference services on the Web
by Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo

Presents a guide to online commercial reference services. Says that the Web serves as a conduit for many services that desire to provide answers to the public. Relates that Ask Jeeves, WebHelp, and Oingo all have unique approaches to the issue of helping users find good, Web-based information. Explains that Ask Jeeves claims to let the user ask a question in natural language and receive an intelligent response; WebHelp is an example of the type of service that actually puts the user online with a professional searcher; and Oingo (sidebar p58) has a solid routine for checking search terms in its open directory while running them against AltaVista. Provides examples of queries posed to different services and the answers given. Maintains that while some expert sites are promising, few have the features to command the loyalty that they may desire, and the quality of their output is simply too sporadic. Contains five screen displays, two sidebars, and a list of references.
Internet & Personal Computing Abstracts   © 2000 Information Today, Inc.