ChaCha: Guided Search

I sense we've seen this movie before, at least a variant of it. But then again, plenty of last decade's ideas are flowering again. From SFGate: The value of a service like ChaCha lies in its ability to connect users immediately to a knowledgeable guide, who has experience or…


I sense we’ve seen this movie before, at least a variant of it. But then again, plenty of last decade’s ideas are flowering again. From SFGate:

The value of a service like ChaCha lies in its ability to connect users immediately to a knowledgeable guide, who has experience or background a particular field. Think of it as calling 411 directory assistance on the Web.

“When people try us, they’re blown away,” said Jones, the founder and chief executive officer of ChaCha. “The results are significantly better because we’re incorporating human intelligence into the mix.”

Users will connect to a live guide via instant messenger from the ChaCha home page.

ChaCha’s CEO has been around the entrepreneurial bend a few times, with Gracenote and early voicemail technology. Worth watching.

22 thoughts on “ChaCha: Guided Search”

  1. I just tried ChaCha search with a query “gillian chung”; it returned nothing. The message “Please wait while search results are retrieved …” just stayed there forever.


    What a brilliant idea – but how long can something like this remain Free if it gets very popular..

    The results from a couple of queries (SEO related) were good and quick, and you are allowed to rate the help via 5 stars

    Gave this a Digg to get other reviews from those VERY DEMANDING and FRANK Diggers


  3. Same here “Please wait while search results are retrieved …” remains forever, no matter what do you search. Yet the guided search is quite challenging to google and other search engines, especially because they have a point: when you search something, you don’t really find the relevant info you searched for until you visit a lot of pages… and that gets you either tired of this or makes you enter a longer phrase for search(thinking this would bring up the websites you need to visit). Maybe google can learn and improve not by buying chacha but by having a way to refine the results, exclude the commom spammers, and give some guidance (human touch would be great!).

  4. Well, it is extremely slow, but eventually completed the first test of every search engine, be it socially modified or not, the self-referentiality test: it was able to find itself. As I remember the Search Book well, it was Inktomi who did not even find itself. Greatest joke in Search history.

  5. I read in another article that they are paying people $5-20/hour to act as guides, and they said they have about 2500 people lined up. And it looks like they have it setup as a pyramid scheme so that if you ascend to the level of “master” in your network you earn a percentage of the revenue of that network. So I guess they have a team of people in India working as guides. This idea seems a little crazy.

  6. First time I tried and it returned nothing.

    I tried again searching for kidney cancer. It returned two searches. I used the chat and JenniferJ gave me two searches one was the same return. Neither of the search returns were from the National Health or from any University resource.

    I tried a third time it the system was down.

  7. First of all- John, thank you for posting this about us. We’re all faithful readers of you here at ChaCha and it’s quite an honor for us to be featured on your blog.

    As everybody can probably tell, we weren’t quite ready for the kind of traffic that was headed our way. Our developers have been working (literally) around the clock to improve the stability of the system. While that’s going on, more and more Guides are signing up and getting trained and our ad targeting is developing more precision than anyone out there.

    I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that not many websites and services allow the general public to try out an Alpha, and seldom do they even get to try out a Beta. We feel so strongly about community and what we’re doing that we wanted to test in the open and let everyone be a part of this. We’ve got some amazing leadership and brilliant developers pushing really hard to make ChaCha as intelligent and robust as possible.

    Keep an eye on us- we’ve still got lots (and I mean LOTS) up our sleeve. Until then, thanks for being patient, thanks for the feedback, and thanks for trying out ChaCha – it’s all helping us to create the next generation of search engines tremendously!

  8. I’m not sure how much of a future ChaCha has. If Google is able to find technological ways to make search more personal then they will be able to humanize their search engine enough so as to appeal to people who are looking for better results from their search engine. For instance, I was recently asked by Google (not personally) if they could “remember” my searches and which results I clicked on in order to serve me more “relevant” results in the future. These and other changes that Google is making will help Google tailor their search engine to the needs of each individual searcher without having to resort to the task of hiring thousands of employees to personally help people find the sites of their choice.

    All the best,


  9. Still trying to get ChaCha to respond with relevant results. All I receive is either “searching for results” or the results I get are totally irrelevant – is anyone else getting something that works? I am “blown away” by this – who would go out this early with a good idea and blow the execution? The good news is that google and yahoo (and ask) will do it right soon.

  10. ChaCha is a joke, especially for the so called “guides”. It is set up basically like a MLM, guides are now figuring out they are making closer to 5.00 per hour- what kind of Pro at anything would work for that. Their guides have set up forums at places like and are behaving like the elite of the net in one thread and then slamming customers and each other in others. The most unprofessional group I’ve come across. They seem to have a few spokespersons out there coming to every forum posting the same speech like the one above..Enough Already!

  11. What happens if your smarter than your guide? I often do searches for very industry specific searches in information technology I usually get the results that I want. My guide had only put the keywords “Server 2003” in the search terms and not any of the other important search terms for my specific issue. The results were vague and then he told me that the window session was about to close. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by my first search. I would be impressed if I was asking someone that was an actual IT expert because they would have known exactly what I was asking.

  12. Some of you will be smarter than the guide you are connected with – it’s a fact – but 9 times out of 10 you aren’t going to be the normal user of the guided search. I am personally an expert in the topics I chose. I know this because I have worked in the industry etc for over 10 years with pretty pieces of paper on the wall. Why do I work ChaCha instead of getting a “real job”? Because it pays for grocery money and I don’t need to leave the house. I choose to stay at home for my kids instead of taking really cool job offers that would take me away from my house and my family. Do I think people will use this type of search? Yes, I think my mother who doesn’t know anything about computers will be happy to use it – she can’t “google” anything (believe me in 20 years I haven’t been able to teach her a thing). So it will have it’s place amid the other engines out there.

  13. I am actually a guide, and no I am not from India but rather America. The chacha system is rather good however the company is a little strange. Even if you work for them you can never find out the information even while filling out the W-9 form. It is very strange about the pay- no I am glad I make five dollars a day. There is truth about the pay, and the advertisements are not true. If you want more information about the company though, I would suggest to look at You can find the contact information there.

  14. Sorry, just checked the telephone numbers from and they have been disconnected. Is this really a company? The BBB doesn’t think it is either!

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