New Web site provides personal search guides

Daniel Bott

Until recently there was no such thing as a personalized guide for search engines.

With the launch of, that changed. The ChaCha Web site is a search engine with a twist: It has live guides that can assist users in their searching.

“When you search with a guide (on ChaCha), you go in, you get connected with a real, live person, and they interact with you in live chat forum,” said Danielle Stealy, ChaCha’s on-line marketing director. “They go out and look through regular search engines that give you millions and millions of search results. They sift through and they give you the right pertinent ones.”

Stealy said the guides are hired on the basis that they are reasonably knowledgeable in particular fields.

“People are trained on the specific key words that they select for their training,” she said. “They have to do five satisfactory searches, and if they supply relevant and fast results, they are promoted.”

There are four levels for guides: Apprentice, Pro, Master and Elite. Guides’ abilities to supply relevant and fast results determine what level they are on.

Stealy would not comment on how many users had logged on to ChaCha since it was launched, but she did say it currently has 3,200 guides.

She said searches, on average, take five and half minutes, with specific searches taking about 11 minutes and easy searches taking less than 20 seconds.

Lauren Auld, employee of Dittoe Public Relations, ChaCha’s PR firm, said the site is the brain-child of Scott Jones.

This isn’t Jones’ first creation. He invented voicemail in the mid-1980s when he was 25. He also formed the company Gracenote, which became one of the first companies to develop music recognition software that is now used by such music software as iTunes.

Sophomore nursing major Cassandra McClelland said the site had room for improvement, but saw it as a good idea.

She said the ability to become a guide would appeal to students.

“I can see more people being guides than actually using the site,” she said.

Katie DeFrank, sophomore special education major, said she did not believe the site would be very successful.

“People are so comfortable with Google, I don’t think people will be switching,” she said.

DeFrank said the site would appeal to students who are lazy and don’t want to do the research themselves.

The site is also usable without the guide option.

Contact technology reporter Daniel Bott at [email protected].