advertisement to Relaunch as Expert Q&A Service

Remember, that pre-Google site with the cute butler logo, Jeeves? Well, it’s about to relaunch with a new ethos: answering questions, not keywords.

advertisement was a major success back in the late ’90s, with its excellent (for the time) retrieval of answers and its cute butler logo, Jeeves. But times changed, and in 1998, those Californian nerds at Google began the keyword revolution. No longer were search queries executed in complete sentences, and fell by the wayside. It attempted to follow in Google’s footsteps but never quite took off in the same way.

The company is launching a major new campaign and a total redesign aimed at taking back some of that marketshare from Google. The new service is a Q&A system in which questions are directed to expert opinions collected from around the web, places like Yahoo Answers and ChaCha. If the new can’t find your answer, it’ll direct you to the large ( says 90 million monthly) community, where you can pose your question. Hopefully somebody knows the answer, which, in being posted, will then be around for future queries.

It’s almost a throwback to the company’s early days, and it’s a smart move. can’t compete with Google on sheer algorithmic muscle; nobody can, really. But there are chinks in Google’s armor, chinks Google itself is perfectly aware of. Google knows that curated answers can often be more useful, shown by its acquisition of Aardvark (a direct-response Q&A system) and Metaweb (which removes vocabulary-based ambiguity by referencing a directory of “entities”).

But is very close to launch, and could beat Google to the punch. The new will be invite-only for awhile, and roll out in full sometime soon. You can apply for an invite here.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).


About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law