Live QnA will be an extension to the search engine

    Justin Osmer is a Senior Product Manager for Microsoft's Online Services Group. This “online” division includes the MSN portal and all the services of the Windows Live line, including a search engine. One of the most promising areas of development is the distributed Live QnA knowledge base (now in beta).

    In an interview with Stone Temple, Justin talks about the fundamental difference between their product and Yahoo! Answers , the undisputed leader (both in terms of number of users and test results)) on the modern market of systems of type "questions and answers." If Yahoo! Answers is positioned as a “thing in itself”, a universal platform for user communication and a social network, then Live QnA has a different purpose.

    Live QnA should come to the rescue of a standard search engine where it fails. No modern search engine is fundamentally capable of answering ordinary human questions, for example, "What are some cool Italian places in Seattle?" In addition to the fact that this question is generally difficult to understand for the machine (what is the “Italian place”?), The answer to it also depends on the fashion, which is changing rapidly. Today one restaurant is popular, and tomorrow another. There are a lot of similar “indigestible” questions for the machine, and now they are increasingly accessing them on the Internet. According to Microsoft, traditional search engines must learn to respond to them, albeit with the help of other users.

    In the near future, Microsoft may begin to integrate the base of questions and answers into the search engine Live Search. A special text box will appear at the bottom of the page with the search results, where each user can ask his own question if he did not find an answer to it among ordinary search results. In addition, answers to a search query from the response database can appear immediately among the search results in the special field “Instant response” (now the text from the Encarta encyclopedia appears there).

    The main problem to be solved is the development of an effective rating / voting system so that the most accurate and complete answer to any question is guaranteed to be displayed in the search results. It is suggested that users should determine the best answer by voting, but each vote should have a different weight.

    As you know, Microsoft has the ability to integrate almost any web service into the Windows operating system and thereby attract millions of users to the site. In this sense, the Live QnA system has good prospects, because the number of active users is a critical parameter for this kind of social services. So, there are 260 million accounts in Windows Live Hotmail, and 255 million in Live Messenger. These people are already registered in the Microsoft system and can use Live QnA without any problems - ask questions and write answers.

    During the testing of Live QnA, it became clear that a significant part of the questions and answers is associated with local information that is geographically linked to a particular city, region. Therefore, the Live QnA service, quite possibly, will also be tied to local search.

    Full text of the interview

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