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Human-powered Search Gets More Humans: ChaCha Hooks up with Facebook




Human-powered search engine ChaCha has hung on (let’s face it) longer than anyone thought possible. Although it abandoned guided web-based search almost two years ago, ChaCha is still thriving in the mobile Q&A market. Back in December, they raised $7M in funding—and it looks like the ultimate result of that cash was an API and a Facebook app.

Yep—ChaCha’s getting into social search. The Facebook app takes questions users post to friends and connections and broadcasts them to ChaCha. The app checks the database of pre-loaded answers to see if they’ve already covered that topic.

Definitely not an app I’m interested in. I’ve joked with friends in Gmail chat that Google should just popup with the answer to any of our factual questions right in our chat window. But really, we definitely wouldn’t appreciate the intrusion (even if we were just going to google that same question in a minute anyway—although TechCrunch doesn’t clarify whether ChaCha actually supplies the answer or just suggests that it might already know the answer). Most of the questions I pose my social network are going to be opinion-based, rather than factual—so ChaCha’s can’t to help there.

However, ChaCha has also turned this into a kind of game—the more participating questions you answer, the more points you get. They’ve also added a number of social features, including the option to have an “Ask ChaCha” box on your profile, share questions and their answers on selected friends’ walls and more.

Meanwhile, ChaCha has also developed an API to allow other developers to interface with their Q&A database. They’re also the #1 SMS search service, according to Nielsen Mobile, answering more than a million SMS questions a day.

What do you think? Should ChaCha even count as a “search engine” since they’re serving up solely structured data? Do you use ChaCha, and will you use their new apps and APIs?

  • http://www.mediaplug.biz Nicole

    I’m just as surprised as you are that Cha Cha has been able to stay in business as long as they have. Their headquarters are right down the street from where I live and I’ve never asked a single question. I most likely wouldn’t use their apps or API

  • http://www.freexboxlivecodesnow.com/ jennifer

    I don’t really think ChaCha should be considered a search engine. I think Facebook should have went with Google.
    .-= jenniferĀ“s last blog ..How to get Free Xbox Live Codes =-.

  • Kristen

    I think the facebook app is just stupid, if I wanted to ask my friends questions, I would ask them. I have used ChaCha’s SMS feature hundreds of times. It is very convenient and most of the time the answers are what I am looking for. I won’t say it’s flawless, but it is useful. :)

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Luci

    Having looked into ChaCha a bit, I’m now not surprised that I’ve never even heard of ChaCha. As Kristen said – if I want to ask my friends a question, I’m just going to ask them. Not add a new app to Facebook, ask the question to (most likely) get a ‘chacha doesn’t know’ and then hope one of my friends sees it and answers… that just doesn’t make any sense.
    I don’t think i’ve ever used their mobile service, but that’s because I think that’s a US-based service?
    .-= LuciĀ“s last blog ..SEO Video Blog – Google Customisations #38 =-.

  • http://www.gilchristsoames.com Brian D. Shelton

    To answer your questions:

    1) No. I don’t think that ChaCha is a search engine in the context of a Google or Yahoo!, but it does have some lingering “search engine” traits.
    2) Yes. In fact, I am testing some marketing campaigns with ChaCha – they have a coupon site (ChaChaCoupons.com) that is currently available in the Indianapolis market, but will be rolling out additional cities in the future. Results? Too early to tell.
    3) No. It’s very unlikely that I will use their app/API as it seems more for entertainment than purpose.

    P.S. – It’s important to note that Scott Jones is the man behind ChaCha, and he has a proven track record of mega successes in the tech sector. The company’s ability to adapt and survive is evidence that they won’t go down without a fight.

  • Case

    Human powered? Not really. They’re now mostly automated or semi-automated with some one simply picking an answer out of the pre-selected database to send. Most the time the information is wrong. Get what you pay for I guess. ChaCha is a great “crystal ball” game but for information, not so much.

    Then the slave labor tactics they’re using. Guides on their new points system are getting about 6 cents a question and expeditors less than 2 cents. They’ve got to be kidding. Profitable? Because they’re riding on the backs of the people working for them and introducing a pay cut to them at least once a year. Can some one even make the minimum wage in china working for them at this point? Not to mention, 1099, half that 6 cents just went to the government. Great scam. I wouldn’t use them simply for the abuse they heap on their workers.