I had some time to try out ChaCha over the weekend. No I wasn’t taking dance lessons: ChaCha is another Search Engine that supposedly eliminates those ‘undesirable elements’ you often get in Search Results. It promises to do so by bringing the human factor back into the search algorithm.
The human factor seem to be the ‘guides’; people that work behind the scenes to construct the search data. You can use ChaCha like a regular search engine and type your search term in, letting the results come back from their index. Or you can conduct your search with a live interactive guide.
I tried the regular automated search and also ‘search with a guide’ for the term “home based business”. The guide’s results consisted of 4 websites that could also be found in the first page of the regular automated search results. In addition, the guide’s results took a prohibitively long time to return (something like 7 minutes) so I am not sure how a guide driven search session is going to improve the search experience.
Maybe they should offer to email the results if they can’t dish up results any faster? Granted, “home based business” is probably fairly generic, but the guide never asked me exactly what I wanted to know about “home based business”.
It’s worth mentioning that ChaCha’s automated search results were significantly different than Google or Yahoo’s for that search term. On that basis, it might be something to consider if you’re having trouble finding what you want in those other search engines. But ChaCha is going to have to deal with the same problems of scalability that other ‘people based’ search engines have (e.g. the Open Directory Project). Guide driven search may be useful for really obscure, hard to find search terms, but be prepared to wait it out.
Here is a blog (link here) where the person claims to have once had a stint as a ChaCha guide. He talks about it in great detail and reveals some interesting details as to why those guide driven searches take so long! At any rate, I’m sticking with Google and Yahoo, with a splattering of MSN and maybe an occasional visit to ChaCha.
What about you? Do you have a ChaCha experience to share?