Magazine article Information Today

ChaCha: Q&A for Today's Mobile Users

Magazine article Information Today

ChaCha: Q&A for Today's Mobile Users

Article excerpt

Got a question? Chances are ChaCha has an answer.

Whether you're shopping for a new sweater in Boston, craving Kung Pao chicken after midnight in Dallas, or searching for the gate when you change flights in San Francisco, ChaCha uses a combination of patent-pending search tools along with human intervention to track down the facts in minutes.

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ChaCha, which is headquartered in Carmel, Ind., is designed to help people at their "point-of-need," wherever that is and whatever that may be. So far, ChaCha is reporting monthly queries in the millions.

Jay Highley, corporate business development officer, says ChaCha is "grounded on a simple yet powerful principle." The self-proclaimed spontaneous, user-friendly service keeps its platform simple: "People don't want links; they want answers," says Highley. "A machine isn't going to interpret or generate an answer to a conversational search question with slang and misspellings," he says, "but people can. That's where our guides come in."

Incoming questions are routed by category and geography to local area guides (25,000 of them in total in all 50 states) who specialize in a range of topics, from medicine to food to sports and plenty in between.

"For someone looking for the best Thai cuisine in Center City [Philadelphia], our local Philadelphia-based guides who are the most knowledgeable about food can offer the best options there," he says. Guides are paid on a per-query basis; all answers (once they are screened for accuracy and relevance) are then added to the ChaCha database for future reference.

ChaCha, which started as a desktop search service in September 2006, launched its mobile answers text service in early January 2008 and its voice service in April 2008. Today, Highley says ChaCha is experiencing a "stickiness with this service . …

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