Want a new search engine to try out? Check out SnappyFingers, a Q&A search engine that has a data set of over 13 million questions. It limits its data pool to just FAQs. You can try it at http://www.snappyfingers.com.
And good grief, in this economy don’t we all wish we had some answers to some questions. At the moment I have a headache. I went to SnappyFingers and asked it, Why do I have a headache? The first answer was from the SLA Convention Wiki for Denver and describes headaches based on altitude. Other answers came from CPAP machine FAQs, wine companies, coffee companies, and a site at Angelfire which isn’t afraid to use profanity.
The full question and answer is reproduced in the search result, which is handy. However to get to the actual page from whence the result came you’ll need to click on the “Source” link. The “Source” link shows only the domain. I think it would be better if it showed you the entire URL. You’ll get even more context that way.
Figuring that asking about my headache was too general, I asked SnappyFingers Is Pluto a planet or not? This got me a much better and more focused set of results than the first question, which a giant answer from NASA as the first result. Beyond Pluto other questions speculated on a tenth planet, the definition of planet, whether the moon is a planet, and my personal favorite, “What are vegans, and which planet are they from?” So even this question ranged a bit afield.
I got all Tech Support on SnappyFingers and asked it several questions including “Why is my Roomba beeping?”, “How can I boot Windows faster?” and “Where’s the Any Key”? The first question had no answer, the second question had two answers (only the first one was for Windows 98), and the third question had LOTS of answers but the first one answered the question (I did not know there was a Wikipedia page for this.)
The answers to “What happens after I die?” made me do an iced-tea spit take; sober responses to questions about insurance were interspersed almost exactly equally with snarky responses about death in online games. Oddly, religion-based answers to the question were fairly rare in the group of results I looked at.
That group of results brought it home to me that there needs to be more categorization of the sources here, or failing that some really rudimentary search filters could be instituted — like limiting sources to top level domain (.edu or .uk instead of .com, for example.) Maybe visitors could participate in tagging sources? There should also be a way to keep the focus strictly on the question. When I ask “Should I get a cat or a dog?” and get an answer to “The lady I write to asked me to send her some money. What should I do?” then there is a lack of precision that is not going to make it easy for the searcher.
I like the breadth of sources that this search engine covers, and 13 million questions is a good start. But there needs to be a way to get more focused.