I was just using ChaCha to do a search and my mind is still trying to recover from how the service works. I had never heard of the site until tonight but looking around Web makes me think that it has been around for several months already. ChaCha is definitely something that I would show to my friends just because I find it funny that I can have my own personal “search assistant.”

When you use the search box you’ll notice that there are two buttons. The one that you want to use is the “Search with Guide” so that you can actually chat with a real person. I went ahead and tried it and now it really makes me wonder how they could really be making money off of doing this. I asked how many people work for the company and they said over 14,000!?!

The search that I was doing was for “technology news” and as you can see from the results above there wasn’t anything overly special. I assume that they are doing a search themselves and just have to mark a check box for the results that they want to appear.

I went on to do some more technical searches such as “guide to the best Linux distribution” but the results weren’t all that helpful. It seems as though the people working behind the scenes on this don’t have the greatest technical knowledge in the world. After two minutes I only had one result and that was a link to, which is a well known Linux distribution. Then the person said “Thanks for being patient! Rest assured I’m finding the most relevant results for your search.” The final four results ended up being:

  1. Xandros
  2. Cowichan Valley Linux Users Group
  3. Best Linux Distribution of them all
  4. LinuxPlanet – Your Guide to Linux Distributions

So they weren’t the best results in the world but I cut the person off so that they could go make some money serving someone else. My guess is that they get a certain amount of money for each rating that they receive, and the amount is dependent on how high the rating is. So if you are doing this just for fun you should rate the person highly to help them out.

Many parts of the conversation will be the same for the different guides that you use. For instance, most of them will welcome you with messages like “Hi there. I will be helping with your search.” The first person that I had, who’s conversation is pictured above, was a little more unique and didn’t use the same phrases that every other guide used.

So is this going to be the next best thing for search engines? Nah, I can typically find the result I am looking for on Google in a matter of seconds and I spent 4-5 minutes waiting for a guide to get me the four Linux sites listed above. In fact, most of the results that I was given could be found in the top 10 returned by Google. The only reason I’ll use this is to show my friends the new search assistant that I have. ;)

Thanks to bdawg923 over in the forum for the tip!