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Ask Filtering

By - June 26, 2006

Ask Ped

Some buzz around the web regarding Ask’s filtering of terms like “pedophilia“, which returns no results, instead informing you “This query does not comply with Ask.com Terms of Service.”

Such a response certainly gives me pause (why can’t I research any topic I want, even if it’s unsavory?), so I asked CEO Jim Lanzone about it, and he assured me it was an overzealous adult content filtering problem, and it will be resolved this week. It does raise the issue, however, of what is being filtered, and how, and how much we know about it. That merits more discussion.

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5 thoughts on “Ask Filtering

  1. ateeq ahmad says:

    I can get results for paedophilia and all that entails

  2. gary price says:

    John,
    It’s really a legacy issue from the Ask Jeeves days. Much of it having to do with the one time licensing agreement between our company and the “Mr Jeeves” Woodhouse licensing organization. It was far from an ideal situation and far from perfect filtering.

    The good news is that with Mr. Jeeves gone, these issues no longer apply. So, as Lanzone pointed out earlier, you’ll see big changes beginning later this week.

    Actually, changes have been developing for a few months. Here’s an example.

    Shortly after I started working at Ask.com (in March) a librarian colleague sent me a note asking why her organization and other info about a topic wasn’t found in Ask. These terms were on what we’ll call the “legacy” list of filtered terms. It was not a long list. When I was alerted to this problem I immediately contacted Ask.com management and the terms were searchable within a matter of days. Now, as we move forward, this issue is being resolved (as Jim points out).

    cheers,
    gary

  3. Fran says:

    Now there is a hedline: “Battelle Searches for Pedo” next Dubbya will be subpeona’ing your ISP.

  4. Skip E says:

    I like to be able to see everything, not to have my information censored, kind of what was done in germany in WWII

  5. Keith Cash says:

    I agree with Skip.

    Can we say freedom