Ask For A Smart RSS Answer

    July 21, 2006
    WebProNews Staff now displays RSS Smart Answers for web searches on the names of popular blogs or news sources; the three latest posts from a site’s RSS feed will appear atop the Ask search results.

Ask For A Smart RSS Answer
Ask Has The Answers

Does Ask’s new feature have enough to make RSS more mainstream, or will something else help RSS reach the tipping point for adoption by the masses? Be a smart RSS answerer and tell us what you think at WebProWorld.

Gary Price and Ryan Massie at Ask formally announced the latest feature in the expanding Smart Answers program. This one, RSS Smart Answers, gives the searcher a little more content in response to their queries.

A typical search result on a website’s name usually returns links and short text summaries from those sites. Since RSS distribution has become so widely used among news sites and blogs, the new feature looks well-suited to match the increase in RSS usage.

Price and Massie detailed how RSS Smart Answers will work on Ask:

Now, when you conduct a web search for many of your favorite blogs, RSS feeds, or news sites, it’s likely that at the top of the web results list, you’ll find the last three posts from that site’s feed. New items appear very quickly after the publisher hits the publish key. Of course, you’ll also find a direct link to the blog or news source to see the entire post.

Examples of that can be seen in Ask searches for blogs like BoingBoing and TechCrunch, and news sites like Digg. Ask has based its selections of sites for this treatment on the most popular feeds chosen by users of its RSS reader service, Bloglines.

Ask plans to add more RSS feeds to the list over time, and make it more comprehensive. While the RSS Smart Answers are geared toward people making web searches on blog or news site names, another service from Ask focuses on searching through blogs or feeds instead.

Called Ask Blogs & Feeds Search, that service looks through the postings made on blogs. Its features allow the searcher to preview a post’s blog or site by doing a mouseover of the binoculars icon, when available.

From the blog and feed search results, dropdown menus for each result enable a couple of actions for the user. The Subscribe feature allows the visitor to quickly add a site to a selection of RSS reader services, like Bloglines or Google Reader.

Another option called Post To lets the searcher quickly add a search result as a post to sites like Digg,, or Reddit. Ask combined technology from Bloglines and its web search service to create the Blogs & Feeds Search, which debuted in June.


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