yeah, right! posted by

Brain fade?


Brainboost. Why do companies make outrageous claims for their products when it’s so easily debunked? This search engine boasts  – Brainboost raises the bar on question answering rendering other search engines obsolete…Brainboost renders other search engines obsolete by leapfrogging what can be achieved with natural language processing technologies.

Yeah right. I entered three search terms, which came up with pitiful results. The last question was ‘where is the appendix situated?’ The first two results back? 

  •  On Location in Virginia: Appendix.
  • Appendix – TAKING LOCATION PHOTOGRAPHS – Location photographs are generally taken with 35mm color film and printed in a larger 4×6″ format.


  • I’d have to agree – rubbish!

    My standard test question to things like this is “Do pidgeons have eyelids?” (a question my nephew asked when out for a walk which I answered with AQA (text a question to 6336 from your UK mobile to get Any Question Answered).

    Anyway, it came up with zero results – not even a guess.

  • It’s not just the fact that it’s rubbish Rob, it’s the grandiose claims that get me. Making other search engines obsolete? I mean really! :-)

  • The most probable reason BrainBoost didn’t come up with any answers to “Do pidgeons have eyelids?” is because, notwithstanding the 27,000+ results for “pidgeon” on Google, there’s actually no such thing as a “pidgeon.” Therefore the answer is, obviously, no — things that don’t exist do not have eyelids, and you get no search results. When you ask about “pigeons,” however, the first result is a page talking about chlamydia-induced ectropion of the ventral eyelids in pigeons, so yeah, it figured out that pigeons have eyelids.

    I’ve found it pretty good in general for things that are naturally phrased as a question. For example, recently I wanted to know when American Express introduced the Optima cards. Google was really no help, I spent a good five minutes trying different queries, but this query tracked it down in a hurry. BrainBoost and the similar AnswerBus are my second-line search engines. (In 2002 AnswerBus helped me track down a book I’d heard about but forgotten the title of, although it seems not to know it anymore, probably because the book is no longer new.)

    The best “question engine” is probably still Ask MetaFilter though. I haven’t had such great results with it myself, but many others have. Of course you may have to wait a little while for the results…

  • I suspect that Google Answers is also pretty good, Jerry, although I’ve not tried it. Of course you have to pay. But in the UK, as Rob says, AQA via SMS is a pretty popular option, especially if you’re in the middle of a pub quiz I believe. :-)

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