Emoting Over Search With Ask.com

    August 30, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Some call them smileys, others refer to them as emoticons, and a lot of people put them in emails, SMS, and instant messages every day; Ask.com can help people figure out what some of the odder ones mean.

Whether they feel :-) or :-( or even >:-( there is probably a combination of characters to express it in text. Instant messaging clients like AIM and Yahoo! Messenger translate those smileys into little bits of artwork, some of which are even animated.

Ask.com has made it a little easier to find the meaning behind the smileys with an update to their Smart Answer feature. The team behind the service described the fun feature in a recent blog post:

For a long time people have wanted the ability to search for terms and phrases on the web using non-letter (A-Z) characters. Put another way, searching using non-alphanumeric characters.

Well the time has come here at Ask.com and we’ve started to roll-out some what we hope are useful and practical examples.

We now offer a growing list of emoticons (aka smileys) that can be found by simply typing the smiley into the search box. Look for the definition in a Smart Answer box at the top of web results page.

Smileys have been with computer users for at least 24 years. The first recorded smiley on a computer network showed up in 1982, at Carnegie Mellon University.

The introduction of a joke into an otherwise serious online discussion sailed over the virtual heads of participants. After several suggestions for joke markers were bounced around, Scott Fahlman suggested the smiley and the frown. The three-character smiley has endured for almost a generation.


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