Ask Feeds You Hurricanes

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Ask.com has provided some updates to its Smart Answer service, making some additions to deliver information about hurricanes and tropical storms to users of the search engine.

Hurricane season has been well under way since the beginning of June, with the threats for the big storms generally ending on or around November 30th. Millions of people keep an eye on the weather for these events as their safety may depend on that.

By making information about hurricanes and tropical storms available through Ask searches, their Smart Answer Team sees this as an extra convenience for the site’s users. They describe some of the philosophy behind this on a blog post about hurricane queries and the concept of “ready reference”:

A frequently used phrase in the library and research world is “ready reference.” Its meaning deals with having resources to answer certain factual types of queries easily and quickly accessible. In the web age, this can also mean having specific web sites or pages at the ready.

So, in essence it’s about:

* Saving you time and effort. We could all use more time.

* Having some understanding of the quality, scope, currency and reliability of the resource often before using it.

In the case of tropical storms and hurricanes, it means having timely storm information at hand. A query for hurricane warnings brings up the Smart Answer box with the latest advisories from NOAA about Tropical Storm Florence, currently brewing in the Atlantic.

Those advisories can be dropped into a feed reader. Ask has enabled the RSS Smart Answer functionality for certain hurricane queries, like National Hurricane Center.

RSS Smart Answer places the latest three feed results related to the query on the top of the search results page. That information will be more timely and save the searcher a step in finding it, which suits Ask’s intent of saving its users some time.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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