Blogs & Feeds: ‘A Tasty Collision’
The masses give Ask’s new Blog & Feeds blog search an enthusiastic thumbs-up after the service was rolled out to an eager audience late Wednesday. Chris Sherman thinks it’s terrific, Nick Wilson thinks it rocks and Andy Beal says it’s the peanut butter to his chocolate… or something. I’m inclined to agree.
What makes Ask’s blog search different from say, Google’s, is that instead of sending a spider to crawl the Web looking for blogs, Ask uses the data it has already collected through Bloglines to identify the blogs most popular among users. Combine that with Ask’s ExpertRank search algorithm and you have a blog search that delivers less blog spam and relevant, up-to-date search results. We like that a lot.
Users can target their search based on relevance, date or popularity and have the option of searching individual posts, feeds or use Ask’s News tab. The News tab acts as a mini feed search engine, and includes a more extensive index than the normal feeds search. Users can also use Ask’s Binoculars feature to preview the last five entries before committing to any one site.
Another key selling point is the open subscription options available via a drop down menu found on the results page. Users can opt to save or subscribe to the feed using Bloglines, Google Reader, Newsgator, Yahoo! or a RSS feed. You have to respect Ask for not trying to force Bloglines onto its users and offering aggregator alternatives, especially for competitor sites like Google and Yahoo!.
If users like what they see, they can instantly post the search result to Digg, Newsvine, del.icio.us or their own Bloglines blog.
Ask has also incorporated some advanced features over at Bloglines, allowing users to limit searches to only their subscriptions when looking for posts, feeds or citations.
My only nitpicky comment is the multitude of drop down menus and options does result in a somewhat cluttered screen, and seems to clash against Ask’s new sleeker image. I’m sure there is a way to make these options appear only on command or by hovering over an expand marker.
And not that you care, but I was slightly disappointed in how long it took Ask to blog about the new service. I read Chris’, Andy’s, Nick’s and a collection of other reviews on the product before I heard from Ask. The Ask response didn’t come until an hour or so after I had ingested all the other commentary. Had the other commentators been anything than 100% flattering, I may not have even cared what Ask had to say. It would have been nice had the service and release information come out at the same time. But I suppose late is better than never.
Qualms and known biases aside, Ask’s Blogs & Feeds service really is the peanut butter to your chocolate. If the blogosphere continues to double every six months, as it’s likely to do, users will need an effective way to sort through the mess. Ask’s Blogs & Feeds may be just what the doctor ordered.
(Gary Price has an excellent review on his site.)