Powerset.com Vs Ask.com ( Ask wins big in our test searches )

There was a lot of news recently about if Powerset should sell, or play David and Goliath with Google.  I vote sell. The concept is good, but they are more of an Ask competitor than a Google competitor, and we know how well Ask is doing.

So let’s Play.

Question one, which I posed a few days ago on TakingTheBridge.com and Mark from Powerset read the article, so it seems fair…

“Who filled the role of first president to the United States?”

Ask.com returns: 3 right answers at the top of the page. John Hanson, and bonus mentions the expected George Washington.

Powerset.com Returns: George Washington, George W. and an article about Vice President

Now to make sure Wiki has the answer… and there are several possiblities (who knew) let’s look at Wiki…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hanson

John Hanson (April 3, 1715November 22, 1783) was a delegate to the United States in Congress Assembled from Maryland. Because he was the first President of Congress from Maryland to serve under a fully ratified Articles of Confederation (Maryland did not complete the process and sign until March 1, 1781), John Hanson has been mistakenly called the First President of the United States in Congress Assembled. He did serve a full one-year term, November 5, 1781 to November 4, 1782, as President of the United States in Congress Assembled under the Articles of Confederation, but Samuel Huntington was the first President under the fully ratified Articles, serving March 1, 1781 to July 6, 1781 while Thomas McKean was the second, serving from July 10, 1781 to November 5, 1781.

We can argue over what the “right answer” is, but it is clear Ask.com is more right.  Score one for Ask.com

Some of you will say I cheated with such a hard question, worded so trickily…

Fine.

“Who invented the Sandwich”

Ask.com has several answers the top of the page, “the Earl of Sandwich being the expected answer, and if you look at the second entry you see that John Montagu was the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, and he invented it.  “Related names” provides the answer as well, implying that Ask knew what we wanted.

Powerset.com gets the right answer on the third hit, but it shows a problem I foresaw when I was contemplating the question.  “Which sandwich”  It would appear Phillipe Matheiu invented the French dip, and Lou Groen invented a sandwich of some sort for McDonalds, Jacob Reuben invented the Reuben…

I’ll call this one a Tie.

“What Is the Most Watched Event in America”

Just trust me they both fail.

Tie.

With the polar ice caps melting, I’m wondering if I can be carried up to heaven by Angels with out first dying.  The way Noah’s  Father did… what was his name?….

“Who was Noah’s Father?”

Ask.com: No correct answer’s in the results, but related to my seach is the mention of Enoch… So not great, but if I knew the answer and forgot, I’d get there, if I didn’t know the answer It likely wouldn’t help.

Powerset.com: No Mention of Enoch anywhere.

But wait.. I’m accidentally being tricky… Turns out Enoch was Noah’s Great Grand Father…

So rematch…

Ask.com: Top hit. “There were stories of Noah’s great-great grand father who was taken up…

Powerset: No mention of Enoch, the answer’s look the same as when we looked for father.

Ask.com wins again.

People are going to say well you picked hard questions.

Square root of 125: Point to ask

Capital of tibet: tie

41st state: tie

starred in 27 dresses: tie

faked orgasm in harry met salley: Ask (answer on the page rather than one click in)

Elf who saved harry potter? ASK (And it finds the answer in WikiPedia)

The Best Powerset is able to muster is Ties.  I’m not thinking I’m going to switch to it for my Question searches.  Especially when Ask can answer questions, that aren’t in WikiPedia so I didn’t include as I thought it would be unfair. ( Order an array in php )

And Ask updates pretty quickly, so you can find “trendy” stuff as well.

Searching for “how can I doodle for google” has a top hit that is that page on Google.com the Wiki article that Powerset sends you to is ok, but is really the history of the Logo, not how you can submit your own.

It really comes down to, can Powerset learn enough from organic searches on their site to refine their engine.  And once they do are they going to do a parse on every page on the planet? or are they going to be a pre-processor for other people’s search engines?

This is a response to:

Powerset Launches Showcase For User Search Experience

and

Powerset Launches “Understanding Engine” For Wikipedia Content