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The Ask Jeeves-ification of online search

A screenshot of a Google search query. The query is “remember when google search was good?”
I’m about to crumble into dust just typing this.

There are some who will tell you that Ask Jeeves was right all along. I’m less sure that’s true. In fact, I am starting to think that if you are a technical person who is considering a startup, Google’s fascination with adding a slow and unreliable AI chat to its results is an opening for you to put a brick on the gas pedal and absolutely run Google over.

Ask Jeeves launched in 1997, and the idea was that you’d type a natural-language query into the box, and the valet would come back with an answer. (Jeeves is named for P.G. Wodehouse’s famous character, a near-omniscient man with a “feudal spirit.” Disclosure: my cat is also named for this character.) It was popular until Google Search entered the scene — an engine with a better ability…

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