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Do you ChaCha?

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Original Title:
New ChaCha Search Engine Features Chat

In a field of online search engines already dominated by Goliaths such as Google and Yahoo, a new challenger is emerging with a new weapon.

ChaCha.com, which became active just eight months ago, not only offers the standard searches found on popular sites such as Google, it provides real time live chats with experts who can help you better find the information you are seeking.

"There are some people that think you're a robot," said Joe Doll of Stockton. Doll, 20, is one of the 30,000 ChaCha guides located in America who answer questions from inquisitive surfers. Sometimes they are surfers who can't believe they are chatting with a real live person. "They talk to you like you're a robot," said Doll. "They'll just say 'search' like you're at Yahoo. And you'll say 'What, can you be more detailed?' And they go like, 'Oh, you're a person.'"

ChaCha's search starts much like a search conducted on Google or Yahoo with results of recommended websites flashed across a layer of screens. But if you need more precise information, you can click on "chat live with a guide" and in seconds, you will be connected with someone who is trained in your search subject. "It's much easier than typing in something and hoping you find it randomly because you can be in detail with someone and they'll know what you're talking about," said Doll.

For all its advantages, ChaCha faces a challenge. Google is well established as the dominant search engine, and a quick questioning of laptop users at a Stockton Starbucks found few who had even heard of ChaCha. However, after Jacob Green of Stockton, who was equipped with a laptop and Blackberry tried to ChaCha, he was impressed. "I'll probably try it out for a while and, if I like it, I'll start telling my friends about it and everything," said Green.

ChaCha was founded by Scott Jones, an Indianapolis inventor who is probably best known for developing the voice mail system most of us now use on our cell phones and office phones. Jones told News10 that ChaCha came about out of necessity when he found the layers and layers of information generated by a traditional search to be cumbersome. He thought it would be useful to be able to easily tap into the knowledge of experts who could shed more personal information on particular subjects.

There is no charge to use ChaCha or access its guides. And the guides get paid anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per search and chat they conduct. A productive guide can make more than $10 an hour and work from home at whatever time he or she uses.

Jones says ChaCha is about to expand well beyond the online experience. This summer, he plans to launch a ChaCha phone service, where searches and live chats will be available to any text, data or Internet-enabled mobile phone.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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