R.I.P Google Answers

November 30, 2006

Google Answers is officially closing:

“Google is a company fueled by innovation, which to us means trying lots of new things all the time — and sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product. Later this week, we will stop accepting new questions in Google Answers, the very first project we worked on here.”

There’s also a brief article at Forbes.com.

I never used Google Answers, and only ventured on to Yahoo! Answers once or twice. But to me Yahoo! Answers appeared to be a (a) more accessable and (b) usable product, even if a lot of the answers were less authoritative than some of those being produced on Google Answers.

Pages from Yahoo! Answers definitely appeared in a lot of my search results when I was surfing the web for various things, which would have contributed a lot to its success at the expense of Google Answers, which was a fairly buried product as far as discovery of it was concerned.

Looking at the success of Wikipedia, not many people who are using the web are overly concerned about transparently well researched and authoritative information on the web. They are more than happy to take the quick and dirty. Another area where Yahoo! Answers was ahead of Google Answers.

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Google News Source List

November 22, 2006

Google News is a great tool for sourcing recent news items without having to pay a fee to your preferred fee-based news service. One weakness of Google News though is its lack of information regarding the primary news sites it indexes.

Google News Report is a web site that tracks the source(s) of news items that appear on the Google News homepage. Its data is available for a number of the local news homepages (eg. USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India… plus others), and provides a number of different break-downs of the data (eg. news sources by month and top 25 sources by date… plus others).

I will find this very useful if I manage to make any progress on a project I’d like to undertake that compares the results of running saved searches on Google News vs. my organisation’s preferred fee-based news service for current awareness purposes. I’ve been under the impression for a while that a lot of the news that comes through these fee-based services such as Lexis-Nexis and Factiva are available online for free, but haven’t yet had the opportunity to do a proper comparison. If I do manage to make some comparisons it will be important to know what sources Google News indexes and makes available, hence my excitement at finding this very useful website.