Go Ahead, You Can Ask Anything, For A Fee

"Go Ahead, You Can Ask Anything" Walt Massberg takes a look at "AskMeNow". AskMeNow, based in Irvine, Calif., is a division of Ocean West Holding Corp. and is currently only available in beta (or prerelease version), but its full-scale service will come out in the beginning of next month. Its concept is very straightforward: You send questions to the service by calling from your cellphone or emailing directly from a portable smartphone, and answers are sent back to your phone or hand-held via Short Messaging Services (SMS) or email within about a minute.

Questions can be asked for free using a form-entry method, called "auto answers," or by calling in questions that don't fit into one of the form-entry categories. (These are referred to as "AskAnything" questions, and they are the ones that cost 49 cents each.)

To answer your questions, the company employs real people who sit at computers in the Philippines, furiously researching the Internet (using data from content partnerships) trying to respond to your queries within three minutes. This doesn't always mean the response is correct. It simply means that the retrieved information was online somewhere. But our results proved rather accurate.

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Similar question-answering systems

A similar system, AQA (Any Questions Answered), has been operational in Britain since April 2004; it was not the first such system. See this March 17, 2005 LISNews posting and accompanying comment:

http://www.lisnews.com/article.pl?sid=05/03/17/093 3258&mode=thread&tid=58

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