Saturday, November 8, 2008

SNAPPY FINGERS: A Search Engine With a Difference

Following is a guest post by Praval who is a freelance writer/blogger and works for Uswaretech, a Web Development Consulting shop as a Web Evangelist.


SnappyFingers is a Bangalore; India based startup and claims to be a search engine for Question and Answers. The interface is pretty clean and leaves a mark when it comes to user friendliness and usability. Though, still in its beta form, the search engine has built a considerable database of 3 million questions in their search index (as per the information given by Chirayu Patel, the founder of the website). To be really honest, I really liked the idea of presenting the search query in a question-answer format especially when you want to explore the possibilities of web for some research work.

HOW DOES SnappyFingers WORK?

SnappyFingers uses a very simple mechanism. It crawls and indexes FAQs across the internet irrespective of the topic. Generally, FAQs provides more detailed answers to queries, so Q&A search helps in finding answers faster. They are also not crawling already established Q&A sites like Answers.com, Yahoo answers, forums etc. That explains me why I failed searching for the keyword ‘snappyfinger’ on SnappyFingers itself as there is no FAQ provided for it.

SnappyFingers definitely lacks a tutorial and a support section which should explain how one can use it more efficiently and what this unique search engine is capable of.
The biggest challenge which SnappyFingers faces is of ranking the FAQs and proving the authentication of the source of knowledge. For example, I tried searching for ‘GOOGLE’ but didn’t get the exact result instead I got info on Google Apps and bunch of other useless results. They have to work more towards improvising their search algorithm to produce more exact results.

Also the user has the limitation of searching exact keywords and basic questions. There is a whole lot of difference between what you will get as a result on Google and what you will get on SnappyFingers. For example, I can not expect to get an answer for some specific computer error but Google can find it for me.

HOW IS SnappyFingers DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SEARCH ENGINES?

I tried searching for ‘NASDAQ’ on Google and Wikipedia. As expected, Google gave me a result which contains links for NASDAQ’s website and other stock prices index. Wikipedia gave me a result which has information about NASDAQ’s history, business, market share, etc but I was quite amazed by the result of SnappyFingers. I got all the useful information about how NASDAQ works? What is NASDAQ? What is the NASDAQ market center? These results were by far better then those of Google and Wikipedia.

In spite of all these shortcomings, I really liked the idea behind it. There is still a huge scope in search engine sphere particularly dominated by big players like Google and Yahoo. Contemporary users’ want quick and problem oriented results and SnappyFingers surely provides it. I also hope that the developers will rectify all the problems in their final release.

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