Ask Jeeves, now, was founded in 1996 in Oakland, California by Gary Chevsky, Garrett Gruener and David Warthen. At the beginning of 2000, Ask Jeeves had a broad market share, particularly in the USA and Great Britain. Offers in other languages followed, e.g. a German version in 2006. The main idea was to offer a question and answer search. The user can ask a question and a team of almost 100 people offered websites that correspond to the most frequently asked questions. Over time, the database grew and at the same time the answers became less relevant. So they began to integrate search engines: First they used Dogpile and and later they bought Direct Hit (2000) and Teoma (2001). In 2006 Asked Jeeves was renamed, but for the UK website Ask Jeeves has been back since 2009.

In 2010 gives up operating its own search index and instead licenses the index of another provider (for a while Google was used, which is currently in use, I can't say because I only get German results). It has again become a question-and-answer repository that uses its extensive archived query data to search websites that provide answers to questions people have. In the search industry, this led to a loss of 130 jobs in search engineering. Ask wanted and could no longer compete with more popular search engines like Google and Bing.

Language English

Launched February 27, 2006
Closed No

Developer Chevsky, Gary and Garrett Gruener and David Warthen

Country of Origin US America

2006 - [...] InterActiveCorp (IAC)

Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Technical functionalities
Crawler-based, algorithmic SeEn
Search Portal

Used SeEn Ask Jeeves / Ask SeEn
Google Search Engine

Robot: AskJeeves (Source)

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

Aaron Wall: »In April of 1997 Ask Jeeves was launched as a natural language search engine. Ask Jeeves used human editors to try to match search queries. Ask was powered by DirectHit for a while, which aimed to rank results based on their popularity, but that technology proved to easy to spam as the core algorithm component. In 2000 the Teoma search engine was released, which uses clustering to organize sites by Subject Specific Popularity, which is another way of saying they tried to find local web communities. In 2001 Ask Jeeves bought Teoma to replace the DirectHit search technology.

Jon Kleinberg's Authoritative sources in a hyperlinked environment [PDF] was a source of inspiration what lead to the eventual creation of Teoma. Mike Grehan's Topic Distillation [PDF] also explains how subject specific popularity works.

On Mar 4, 2004, Ask Jeeves agreed to acquire Interactive Search Holdings for 9.3 million shares of common stock and options and pay $150 million in cash. On March 21, 2005 Barry Diller's IAC agreed to acquire Ask Jeeves for 1.85 billion dollars. IAC owns many popular websites like,, and, and is promoting Ask across their other properties. In 2006 Ask Jeeves was renamed to Ask, and they killed the separate Teoma brand.« Source

SIYU CHEN (2013): »Based on Ask. Com company introduction (,) was founded as Ask Jeeves in 1996 and re-named as in 2005. It is headquartered in Oakland, California with an international presence in the UK and Europe. It is the fourth biggest site on the web in terms of monthly searches with more than 100 million unique users globally attracted.

Within 15 years, committed to its mission of increasing personal knowledge by empowering people with answers. is a hybrid form of a search company and answer company. As stated in the mission (,) thinks the best way to deliver on this promise is to give users a service that makes it fun, easy and satisfying to ask and answer everyday questions, be they personal or professional, serious or silly, easy or difficult. Since encourages people to input search query in a question format, I consider to be an appropriate tool for searching when just starting a project and still at the brainstorming stage. To make it an even better tool for brainstorming, provides great suggestion types as well as “recommended to you” and “You Might Also Ask” sections on the right. Users can take an advantage of these three query building assistances especially if they have no idea of what to look for regarding a specific topic.

Based on company introduction (,) “starting from July 2010, innovative technology scours the web to find answers where they exist online and then turns to a qualified user when they don’t.” From this statement, I can see that is really making an effort in their answer service. If a user is looking for an objective answer, will find and deliver the answer in milliseconds and present the answer rather than a link at the very top of the page. If a user is looking for a somehow subjective answer, will use proprietary matching technology to route the question to a qualified user who can help. Followed by this mission, is aiming at building up a live user community in addition to power of search.’s interface is clean. You can have a look at the following screenshot of its homepage. On the top menubar, there are “Answers” and “Q&A Community” on the top lefthand corner. In the middle, there are “Images,” “News,” “Videos,” “Locals,” and “References” types of special searches. On the top righthand corner, there are account sign-in bar. Under the search box, you can see there is a big section called “Question of the Day,” which aligns with special search technique – ask real people for an answer. There is a big ads section displayed on the homepage, which is very different from Google or Bing, whose home pages do not have any ads.« Source

»In 2010 abandoned the search industry, with the loss of 130 search engineering jobs, because it could not compete against more popular search engines such as Google and Bing. It reverted to being essentially a question-and-answer repository, utilizing its extensive history of archived query data to search sites that provide answers to questions people have. To avoid a situation in which no answers were available from its own resources, the company outsourced to an unnamed third-party search provider the comprehensive web search matches that it had gathered itself.« Source


»The original idea behind Ask Jeeves was to allow users to get answers to questions posed in everyday, natural language, as well by as traditional keyword searching. The current still supports this, with added support for math, dictionary, and conversion questions. [...] In 2005, the company announced plans to phase out Jeeves and on February 27, 2006, the character disappeared from He was stated to be "going in to retirement." However the U.K./Ireland edition of the website prominently brought the character back in 2009.« Source

Critical points

»The Ask Toolbar is a web-browser add-on that can appear as an extra bar added to the browser's window and/or menu. It is often installed (sometimes without warning) during the installation of other software. As an operating business of InterActiveCorp, Ask Partner Network has entered into partnerships with some software security vendors, whereby they are paid to distribute the toolbar alongside their software.

Installer packages for other software install the toolbar by default. Without further warnings the toolbar deletes all of the users homepages and inserts its own and makes the default search in all web browsers. In turn,'s search results page tends to mislead readers into clicking on paid advertisements as if they were optimal search results.« Source

Features & Functionality


Example results page for "sand": Source

References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others):

Other Sources 1996 to Present. Online available at SEO Logic. URL:
Ask Blog URL:
Schwartz, Barry (April 19, 2009): Ask Welcomes Back Jeeves, At Least In The UK, That Is URL:
VERNE G. KOPYTOFF (2010): to Return to Old Service URL:

Created: 2013-01-15