If you watch commercials on American TV you know what kgb is. The company’s commercials are weird enough that they kind of burn into the brain. If you’ve missed it, here’s a quick overview: kgb is a text answer service. Text a question to 542542 and get an answer. Of course, the answer costs you 99 cents and whatever data charges apply to your cell phone plan.
Now you can get some kgb answers for free. kgb has released, in beta, a database of its answered questions. It’s available at http://www.answers.kgb.com/. The site is described as having “millions” of questions, but I didn’t see an exact answer count.
The front page of the site has featured questions with links to answers (kind of an Olympics theme going here) along with popular questions. There’s a category listing at http://answers.kgb.com/categories/all. And of course you can do a keyword search. I searched for What is the most popular cartoon character?
I got six answers. The interesting thing is that two of the questions were very similar — What is the most popular cartoon character and what is the number one cartoon character ever? — but had two different answers. The answer to the first question was Homer Simpson, while the answer to the second question was Bugs Bunny. Every answer I looked at included a link to an online source for the answer, so both answers had evidence to back it up.
On the other hand that’s a pretty subjective question. So I asked, What’s the tallest building in the world?. Of the five questions returned that included that information, four of them had the same answer (Burj Khalifa, though it wasn’t always referred to by that name.) The fifth answer noted Tapei 101 as the tallest building in the world, a title it lost after Burj Khalifa was built. So I wouldn’t immediately trust these answers but instead would use the answers and the source URLs to do some investigating of my own. (kgb has several buttons that allow you to share and respond to answers; it would be good if the site also had a “Please doublecheck this answer I’m not sure it’s correct” button.)
If the question for which you’re searching is not available, you do have the option to send in your question for the usual 99 cent fee.
I wouldn’t trust this site nearly as much as I’d trust a librarian reference service. On the other hand, the site is free and fast, and the sources with the answered questions give me places I can start my own research. Take a look!