1. Computing

Answers.com: Find Information, Fast

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What is Answers.com?

Answers.com is an innovative way to find answers on the Web. Instead of going to your favorite search engine and typing in a query, then sorting through various links to find the answer that you are looking for, Answers.com returns quick answers with concise, reliable information. Answers.com's tagline seems to sum this up: "the world's greatest encyclodictionalmanacapedia."

Home Page

Search: This is the heart of the site, and it's conveniently located right at the top of the home page.

Tabs: Right underneath the search bar, you'll see four tabs: Highlights, In the News, On This Day, and Say What?. These are all a good way to get your feet wet and do some info browsing.

Sidebar: To the right of the search and tab interface, you'll see a sidebar containing lots of goodies, including Webmaster Tools, 1-Click Answers, Special Content for various groups, a newsletter subscription, and What's New Inside.

Widgets: Last but not least on the home page, at the very bottom, are two fun widgets: a "blufr" that quizzes you on facts and a spelling bee.

As you can see, there is a LOT to play with on the home page - but the best thing about this search engine is that they're not just fluff and circumstance; it's also a great place to do some serious searching.

Search

If you're looking for quick, credible, reputable answers that you can trust with a minimum of searching, than you will love Answers.com.

This is how it works: type in your query, and if it has something on that topic in its million plus pages, than the answer page relevant to your search query will instantly pop up. No wading through a million results, just instant answers. This is one step closer to the intuitive search technology that search engines have been flirting with for a while, and are inching closer and closer to every day.

One thing that I really appreciate about this site is the search suggestions as you type. For instance, my search for podcasting not only gave me about 15 different suggestions as I typed the word, it also brought back results from the Tech Encyclopedia and Wikipedia - no thousands of possibly inaccurate sources here, just quick, credible results.

More academic-themed searches come complete with easy citation buttons at the bottom - my favorite feature (you try writing up 30 odd plus MLA style citations for 10 different kinds of sources, and you'll see what I mean.). For instance, a search for William Wallace gave me citation opportunities at the very bottom of the page for all sources.

For me, the beauty of Answers.com is that the answers it delivers can be relied on. You don't have to worry that the citation in your blurb for your radio show will be faulty, or that the footnote in your Economy of Brazil paper will not be credible. That alone is worth the visit for any student or researcher.

Extra Search Goodies

As an information junkie, this site definitely offers what I need. As I was poking around in this great service, I found a few extra search goodies that you might like:
  • RSS feeds: You can subscribe to various search services (Word of the Day, This Day in History, etc.) here.
  • One Click: One Click Answers is a free download you can use to find quick answers from any Web page you might be on.

Why Should I Use Answers.com?

I guess I would be asking "why wouldn't you?" This service is amazing. It took me a lot longer to write this article than it should have because I was fooling around with it so much. Here's a roundup:
  • ease of use
  • reliability
  • citations (again, my favorite!)
  • breadth of topics - both a blessing and a curse, since I'm distracted easily
All in all, a very satisfactory search tool that should be in every good searcher's bookmarks.

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