Ask.com Completely Misses The Point

Submitted by C B Wright on

Today's examination of cultural fluff comes courtesy of YouTube.

Ask.com has decided it's tired of playing second fiddle to other, more successful search engines and has decided to start a campaign to let people know exactly how good their search engine is:

The Algorithm is Ask.com's secret weapon against Google and Yahoo! It is so incredibly powerful, so mind-numbingly sophisticated, that all other search algorithms are rendered utterly impotent by comparison:

The Algorithm is mighty. It is on the very cutting edge of search technology, making it capable of some of the most wonderous feats ever imagined by man.

... like finding half naked women on the internet.

... or finding websites about tabloid celebrities.

As clever as these ads may be, does it bother anyone else that Ask.com is essentially touting what it claims to be the most sophisticated search algorithm known to man as a way to find pinups on the web?

Is there a search engine on the web that can't do this?

Let's start with the Internet at it's most basic: from the moment college students were allowed to use the Internet -- in fact, in all likelihood, even before college students were allowed to use the Internet -- there have been pictures of naked, half-naked, somehwat naked, provacatively clothed, provacatively unclothed, and other variations and combinations of clothed and unclothed women for the satiation of purient indulgence. It's not difficult to find these pictures on the web -- in fact, it's possible to find them without using a search engine at all. Thanks to the Internet, pornography can now survive Nuclear Armageddon.

And searching for celebrities? Please show me a search engine that can't search for articles about Kato Kaelin. Or anyone else that comes to mind.

I understand that what with the overwhelming success of Google, there is really only room for one or two other search engines to get any kind of mainstream recognition at all, and one of those other search engines is probably always going to be Yahoo! Ask.com wants punchy commercials that people remember, but I'm not convinced that ultimately people will remember the right things: in it's eagerness to imprint itself on the psyche of internet users all over the world it created two advertisements that essentially said "look how strong I am -- I can pick up that box of tissue paper with just one hand!"

How powerful is the Algorithm? It's powerful enough to allow you to search for trivialities. Not, I think, the impression that Ask.com was trying to make.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they aren't trying to compete with Google. Maybe they're trying to compete with Wikipedia.