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Welcome to the official company blog for Ask.com,  where our employees are discussing everything from  the latest internet & mobile trends to what’s going on  here at Ask.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Hackathon Time!

For an entire day last week, you could walk the halls of Ask and hear next-to-no activity—that is, until you passed the conference rooms. There, teams of six typed frantically on laptops, sketched formulas on whiteboards, talked logistics. Translated: the Ask Hackathon was in full swing.

Ask’s quarterly Hackathons are two-day events: one day to concept and one half-day to present. The goal: come up with an idea and present to a panel of judges. Our team of judges gauge ideas based on potential business impact, creativity (both in concept and in use of existing technologies), and quality of pitch. 

The winning ideas receive development resources and bragging rights. The losing ones still give our people the chance to leverage the latest technologies, try non-traditional processes, and spread their wings creating something new. 

When We Say “All-Hands”…

Perhaps more important, our Hackathons aren’t just for our engineers or product teams. We open the event up to the entire company. Members from our design, operations, and marketing teams get involved. Even our finance and legal departments pitch in to devise, package and execute ideas to create the next great company innovation.

Last quarter’s hackers were encouraged to come up with virtually any idea that would benefit the company—and they responded with two dozen presentable concepts. One of these evolved into Pollroll, the mobile app that Ask launched at this year’s SXSW conference to great acclaim. This time around, Hackathon heads Nick McCann and Alisa Barnes focused this quarter’s teams to create a new service (or use an existing or third-party service in a new way). Aside from that, the only rules were (1) be in the office, and (2) be creative. 

Teams Working: Do Not Disturb

If you knew where to look, the company was buzzing. Phrases like “social signals,” “aggregated for you,” “iPad app,” and “pulling links from I.M.” bounced through the halls. As did, for some reason, Marketing Director Robbie Waeschenfelder’s spot-on George Takei impersonation.

Mid-way through Day One, in a common area near the marketing department, six Askers leaned forward from white leatherette couches and devised ways to get celebrity gossip more conveniently. In another room, the team from the Campbell office bounced between their laptop screens and their whiteboards. Another team pitched out names for their new service, but had trouble finding an acronym that didn’t sound like “murder” (spoiler alert: they found one)

Stay Tuned…

Come by the blog on Monday for a more in-depth look at the teams and how they collaborate—plus, find out why our Hackathons are a pilot program for how we’ll approach our products and services in the future.

Then come by on Wednesday to find out what some of our top brass has to say about the Ask Hackathon, and take an in-depth look at the judging…and the winners!

In the meantime, enjoy these snapshots of day one. Have any hackathon memories from your own companies you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

—Ken Grobe, Ask.com

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

[Flash 10 is required to watch video]

What does the Ask team do on a rainy day? Play with floating sharks of course!

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ready, Set, Roll: Pollroll Now Live

As folks are packing their umbrellas for what looks to be a rainy weekend in Austin,  we wanted to tell you about a visual polling app live in the Apple iTunes store today that should prove useful – if not super entertaining —at SXSW.  No, it’s not expressly for SX, and will be integrated into the overall Ask Q&A experience after the conference, but we thought the cacophony of events, panels, brands and crowds at SX would provide a great opportunity to test it out.

So, what is “it?” Drumroll…

Pollroll is a new app brought to you by Ask that will deliver people quick answers to any question, while they’re on the go. It’s a lightweight app designed to facilitate the creation, distribution and sharing of poll questions and results. Field a poll, take a poll, or share a poll. And because Pollroll lets users include comments along with their vote, it combines the instant gratification of a poll with the answer depth and social context of Q&A. 

Why Pollroll? We saw our users leveraging the Ask Q&A community as a polling mechanism and thought, why not make it easier to set up a quick poll, survey others about anything— from favored restaurants to the best apps—and then share those results? SXSW is a great testing ground for Ask to play with this polling functionality, leveraging things like social connections and location, and we plan to use these learnings to better integrate polling into our flagship mobile app and site.

 Some of the features include:

- Visual polling:  Create a poll around a picture you just snapped, or use the in-app image search to include with your poll

- Filter responses: View responses from anyone, or filter by your friends or those in a specific location 

- Get context: See comments to understand why respondents voted the way they did

- Browse: Find, take and share more than 1,000 polls and counting. You can also browse user polls based on recency, popularity, location or social connections.

Download it now at http://www.ask.com/pollroll

See you at the Salt Lick.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do You Watch Your Phone More Than Your TV?

TechCrunch posted an interesting article yesterday explaining a survey conducted by InMobi of 20,000 consumers. The findings show that people spent more time on the mobile web then watching TV. Essentially, people are “watching” their phones more than they are watching their television. People use their mobile devices all throughout the day, including 67% of the time lying in bed and 47% of the time waiting for something.  Do these findings relate to how you use your mobile device? 

Sheree Polonsky, Public Relations

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ask.com Reveals Oscar Night Predictions

As everyone gets ready to tune-in to the 84th Annual Academy Awards this weekend, we decided to roll out our very own red carpet predictions for the night’s winners and losers based on top questions asked on Ask.com by more than 100 million users. To help celebrate the Oscar predictions and nominees we sent some star-studded cookies to a few friends as a teaser.

The predictions envelope please…

George Clooney nabs his second career Oscar as Best Actor. 

Viola Davis edges out Meryl Streep to win her first Best Actress Academy Award. 

The Descendants takes home top prize as Best Picture.

Veteran actor Christopher Plummer will take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Octavia Spencer earns the golden statue for Best Supporting Actress.

Michelle Williams leaves us speechless, winning best dressed of the night.

Rooney Mara’s ensemble will be a red carpet disaster. 

Charlize Theron will bring her mama as her date.

Woody Allen will be a no-show.

Biggest upset? Brad Pitt not going home a winner. 

Regardless of which stars win or lose, the Oscars are always a night full of surprises. So whether you are hosting an Oscar party or relaxing with a bag of popcorn, get ready for a night filled with the glitz and glamour only Hollywood can bring.

Oscar Treats

Brad Pitt

Rooney Mara

Michelle Williams

- Sheree Polonsky, Public Relations 

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Show Must Go On…

Sunday night the biggest musical artists from all over the world came together at the Grammy Awards to celebrate the best in music, but also mourned the passing of one of music’s most legendary voices, Whitney Houston, who passed away on the eve of the Grammys at the Beverly Hilton. 

Congratulations to Adele and all the winners at the 2012 Grammy Awards!

And Whitney Houston, your awe-inspiring voice will be missed and remembered forever. Rest in peace.

-Emily Kidder, Knowledge Engineer

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Need Valentine’s Day Ideas? Ask Users Give Their Advice!

Valentine’s Day is only a week away and Ask users are providing answers to all sorts of Valentine’s Day related questions. Do you know what you will give your Valentine? Or how you will spend that special day? Every Day all of these answers and more are being answered by Ask users leading up to the big day. Here is a quick look at some of our top Valentine’s Day questions and answers from real people in our Ask community.

What should I get my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day? 

Ask users suggest flowers (specifically roses and orchids), candy, a watch, any kind of personalized gift, jewelry or a romantic letter. Ask users also recommend sending the flowers to her school or work for an even bigger impact.

What should I get my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day?

Users recommend buying his favorite cologne, a mug engraved, clothes, a watch or video games. Ask users also recommended baking fresh cookies.

How should my significant other and I spend Valentine’s Day? 

Community members agree that going to dinner at a nice restaurant is a great way to spend Valentine’s Day. However, if you are on a budget, Ask users think a home-cooked meal is a romantic and thoughtful idea. Other ideas mentioned were seeing a movie and going for a picnic. 

What is a Valentine’s Day gift that I can give my best friend?

Top answers from Ask users were a nice perfume or a charm bracelet.

Should men receive gifts on Valentine’s Day? 

83% of Ask users say yes, Valentine’s Day is a day for both men and women to feel loved. 

What do you do if someone that you don’t like gives you a present on Valentine’s Day?

100% of community members agree that saying “thank you” is the best way to handle that tough situation. 

Do you have Valentine’s Day advice you want to share? Let us know!

Sheree Polonsky, Public Relations 

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Better bundle Up For 6 More Weeks Of Winter!

In tradition of Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog emerged from his burrow around 7:30am ET and saw his shadow, which which means we will have six more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil is not the first Groundhog to predict the beginning of the Spring season, this tradition started among Pennsylvania German communities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although the tradition may seem silly to some, thousands of people gathered in Pennsylvania to see what Phil’s prediction would be this year. If you missed the main event, check out the live stream here.

Sheree Polonsky, Public Relations 

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