CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Opinion

September 30, 2010

Got a question? ChaCha it

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CULLMAN — You know you’re starting to get old when your eighth-grade niece is prattling on about some hip, new internet service — and you’ve never heard anything about it.

Apparently, a popular cellphone tool catching on these days is the relatively new question-answering service called ChaCha (http://www.chacha.com).

Basically, you text message CHACHA (242-242), or submit via their website, any question that is on your mind — and they answer it within a few minutes.

What really caught my attention is that this service is free — no catch — only standard text message rates apply via your service carrier. Similar services have made the rounds over the past couple of years (i.e. KGB) but all of those charge per-question. ChaCha manages to pay the bills by also sending a short, separate advertising message along with your answer. They have a solid privacy policy, and I haven’t had any problems with spam text messages or anything like that. If you have an unlimited texting plan, it’s not much of an issue.

Once my niece expounded the greatness of ChaCha, I put it through some paces the other day. The service uses numerous low-paid freelancers to research and answer the questions quickly, so the quality of responses can vary. But, almost all the answers I received were fairly accurate. Since there’s a human element to all of this, you can also ask for opinions, which can be amusing.

Will ‘Bama beat Florida this weekend? “Analysts say it’s likely, with Tim Tebow gone from Florida.” Who won the Chicago Bears game Monday night? Chicago, plus they sent a schedule for the next two games. What’s the best novel by Jack Kerouac? “On The Road is his most acclaimed, but The Subterraneans is good, too.”

ChaCha can be extremely handy to settle a silly argument, or get an update on something random while away from a computer.

It’s basically asking a question and having someone else search it for you, but, it’s still extremely neat to be able to ask about any random tidbit and have someone fire you off a response in a matter of minutes.

So, if you don’t have time to Google your next query, ChaCha it.

‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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