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Day 18: Ask

Have you ever wondered how many questions are asked of Google each day? Let’s take a quick moment on ‘ask’ day to honor our heroes of search, superlative-style.

Where are they now? Try not to get too nostalgic.


Name: Ask Jeeves

Founded: 1996

Superlative: Most likely to be used by your mother.

Where are they now? Jeeves has retired to go live with his like-dressed penguins in Antarctica. Ask has moved on without him and has struggled after the divorce. There’s a new superlative. “I was wondering what happened to Ask Jeeves, so I Googled it.” In 2005 they were bought by media conglomerate IAC – making Jeeves half-cousins with the USA and Sifi channels, Expedia, Trip Advisor, CollegeHumor, and the Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Reference com spaces.


Name: Baidu

Founded: 2000

Superlative: 我不知道什么我有一只狗爪子

Where are they now? Still in Beijing. Duh.


Name: Bing

Founded: 2009

Superlative: Most likely to be used when you don’t update your browser’s default search.

Where are they now? Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha.


Name: Dogpile

Founded: 1995

Superlative: Most likely to be confused with any other engine with a dog as the mascot.

Where are they now? People still use it. No, I swear. I saw it on the internet.


Name: DuckDuckGo

Founded: 2008

Superlative: Most likely to not be Google.

Where are they now? DuckDuckGo is now the default search of the Chromium browser in Raspbian. We love anything related to Raspberry Pi.


Name: Excite

Founded: 1994

Superlative: The early bird gets…to go to bed before the other birds.

Where are they now? Excite was actually bought out by Ask Jeeves in 2004. To this day, they’re an example that the concept of “First to Market” doesn’t necessarily apply to the internet.


Name: Google

Founded: 1998

Superlative: Most likely to keep it simple.

Where are they now? Let’s just say Google wasn’t the first to the market, but their elegant “nothing but a bar” design and constantly updated algorythms won out in the end. Obviously it’s name is now synonimous with the idea of an internet search. Google is also going through a tiny midlife crisis. They’ll still answer all of your questions, but may try to mix in something ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ like a video (YouTube), phone (Pixel), personal assistant (Google Home), or VR device (Daydream). Get your Beyonce fixes here.


Name: HotBot

Founded: 1996

Superlative: Most likely to be used only by Wired Magazine subscribers.

Where are they now? No, it’s true. HotBot was founded by Wired Magazine. Aquired by Lycos in 1998, the website went through a couple of identity crises, begoming an aggregator of search engines in 2002, an entirely different list of search engines in 2001, then became a front for a Lycos search in 2012.


Name: Lycos

Founded: 1994

Superlative: Most likely to fetch, but never bring the ball back.

Where are they now? Lycos actually set a record in 1996 as the fastest company to go from inception to IPO before they went on a buying spree of websites like Matchmaker. They have been playing ownership pingpong ever since. Don’t worry, they’re out of the dating game.


Name: NorthernLight

Founded: 1996

Superlative: The fastest search engine on dialup.

Where are they now? NorthernLight was named after the famous clipper which held the voyage record from San Francisco to boston for almost 150 years. They functioned primarily as a search engine until 2002, when their search division was discontinued in favor of an enterprise intranet search product called SinglePoint.


Name: Webcrawler

Founded: 1994

Superlative: First company to make ‘indexing’ sexy.

Where are they now? Let’s be very clear. The founder is University of Washington alumni. Go dawgs! In a super fun search engine love triangle, WebCrawler was bought by Excite in 1997, which was owned by Ask Jeeves and all now partner with Dictionary, Thesauraus, and Reference com sites.


Name: Yahoo!

Founded: 1995

Superlative: Last alphabetically, but third in our hearts.

Where are they now? There was a period of time where Yahoo! was considered a part of the Big 3 of search engines. Now they’re an aggregate site of content and borrows searches from Bing. It turns out the company is also a perpetual leaky faucet of private user data and CEOs. In the words of Adele, “Yahoo? Can you hear me?”

Level 17

Looking at today's word, the first thing that came to mind was the response when I asked the THWACK community to participate in this month-long writing challenge. I thought I might get one or two folks to jump in.

But the response has been overwhelming in the best sense. The number of posts every day, the people coming to read what was written, and the thoughtful comments have all made me grateful that I asked in the first place.

And special thanks goes to my colleagues at SolarWinds - people who stepped up to share their personal stories and ideas    as the "lead" writers each day. (not the least of which is today's lead writer, Ben Garves).

It just goes to show you how much an entire community can benefit when you just ask.

"Ask" is a tool to request things necessary to effect change.  Or a warning, as in "ask not."

"Change" as in seeking to gain information to better inform yourself why things are they way they are, and therefore analyze them and determine paths to make things different.  To fill voids in useful and beneficial knowledge--to what greater ambition can one aspire?

"Ask" has a way of making two or more people think.

"Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."    Ask not what your country can do for you (Kennedy's inuagural address)

"Ask not for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."  I learned, thanks to this Thwack theme, that the original phrase ran "Send not for whom the bell tolls  . . ."     For whom the bell tolls a poem by John Donne   And also that this is the poem from which we take "No man is an island."

"Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars."  I'd not run into this one before, but I like what it makes me think.  I might paraphrase it as "Don't ask advice from those with tiny goals; instead, seek loftier ambitions and higher dreams."    But assuming a sparrow's dreams are less worthy than those of an eagle implies stature correlates to value, and that's easily disproved.

I think in IT, as important as knowing things is knowing who to ask things.

We cannot know everything, although I sometimes think my friends ssd​ and mikegale​ do know everything.

When I am working on a project, one thing that has helped me succeed is knowing who my go to guy in Firewall, SQL, Data Security, Server support. Windows Support, JAVA, Powershell and .net are.

If you do not know the answer, you pretty sure better know who at ask.  Or just ask

Level 11

Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

Ye Have Not, Because Ye Ask Not

Although this is a biblical reference it is true with many things in life.  I found out many times when dealing people that that they might have been willing to do something or participate if they had been asked.  That goes both ways, if you want to join in, ask and you will probably be welcomed with open arms.  Don't be silent!

Level 14

To know you must ask

To find you must seek,

To listen you must hear

To communicate you speak.

One question I enjoy asking, "How can I help you?"



Wow a trip down memory lane. I used to use excite than my dad told me about this new search engine called google and that it was really quick to load. Right from the start, I was hooked on it.

Level 10

Oh gawd... memories...gawd now I feel not crying, YOU'RE crying!

-_- I remember when we had to write reports using these search engines,....and then write reports ABOUT the search engines.

The amount of papers that AskJeeves, hotbot, dogpile,...ALL of them helped me to find information about (AskJeeves used to be my was like having your own ALFRED! ..almost...not really.. you know what I mean >.> *whispers*imbatman)

On another note, the entertainment...when you were at the school library, and just when you're mid typing a question into would see what the other students had googled... ah the memories.

bing- "Where are they now? Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha." <---this made me laugh way more then I should have laughed.

Personally I find the word ASK to be a pretty useful word. [Not to mention it's the acronym for my highscool (woohoo go ASK! )]

It's a refreshing word.

Growing up outside of my country, and living outside of my country for years, I'm usually always the foreigner of the group. One of the things I appreciate the most about people is when they actually bother to ASK me order to learn, to find out.

Usually they start out with: "Can I ask you something? I hope I wont be offending you or anything, I've just always wondered but never got a chance to ask anyone...from your country, or from your religion"

to which I respond with: "Not a problem, I would rather you Ask me, instead of assuming anything...ask away."

I respect people more for reaching out, who ask to find out, who want to know, educate themselves, and find out... waaaaay better then assuming that they know because 'they heard this or that somewhere'.

Working in the IT industry, the word Ask is a common word that is used. Which is good. If you don't ask, you wont learn, you wont find out.

Keep asking!


Ask and it shall be given. Ask and you shall receive.

None of these existed when I had most of my formal education. But I was graced with an inquisitive mind and mostly good teachers. So other than one chemistry teacher, they did not chastise any question asked. If you don't understand ask. If you still don't understand, ask again. It is not like a toddler who might constantly ask why, although that can be fun, it is more like picking apart an intricate machine. This component fits in here, but what is its purpose? Eventually you discover how the grandfather clock works, or how to repair your DVD player, or replace the motor on your neighbors rug cleaner.

I still sit up front in class, I always ask questions. I want to know and understand more so I ask.

You hit one of the keys to success:  Sit in front of the class and ask questions.

Sure, it may annoy some of the folks in back.  But it's just possible they're recognizing you're an achiever, and it's also just possibly they're feeling they're falling behind, not getting the recognition you're earning through your participation.  Their opinions don't matter.  Your ability to understand the topic and to get your money's worth out of the class, DOES matter.

I once attended an auditorium-style class in college that had 370 students in it.  I sat in front and asked questions, as did a couple of other students.  At the mid-term the class was dismayed to discover virtually all of the material we'd covered during the first half of the semester was not in the test.  Instead it covered specific details that were NOT covered in the reading or lectures, but that were in the same general category as the class's topic.  I scored 75% for a C-.  Two folks scored 69% for D's.  And the rest of the class failed.  The three of us who did NOT fail were the ones who asked questions.

Certainly there was an angry MOB at the teacher's office after the test results were posted, and again later that day at the Dean's office.  Our protestations fell on deaf ears, and I was glad for the C-.

Day 18: Ask

  • To call on for an answer
  • To make a request of
  • To seek information

I ask that Orion products provide what I need in a timely and intuitive and affordable manner.

Level 11

Ask? Ask what? Ask where? Ask who? Ask why? Why Ask Why?

Level 11

Ask - it does not portray stupidity but it does portray wisdom and the intention to know more.

Level 13

hmmm...for me this revolves around permission...I never ask...I always do.

I find it better to ask for forgiveness, that it is to ask for permission.


its funny that such a little word can impact so much.

My favorite connect to "ask" was that the only stupid question is one that wasn't asked.

For the "pre-first-cup-of-coffee" folks - don't be afraid to ask a question if you aren't sure of something.

When I ask a question and get an unhelpful response I can always point out that questions asked are assumptions clarified for the better.

Level 12

Number 1 in my heart for quite some time.



As IT people we are supposed to know the answers which makes it difficult to ask other people - you know, perception - but it's critical that we get answers/feedback/opinions/buyin/etc. from others in order to provide the best solutions. Even if we do think that we know all the answers, we may not have the best ones - and more importantly the best accepted ones.

I learned a long time ago that if I'll stop and ask directions that I can actually get to my destination a lot quicker - and with less frustration.

Level 12

You have to ask the right people the right questions to get the right answers.

My team is no longer permitted swap "ask" and "do" in our environment. 

If we  "do" without asking, we'll occasionally get burned by unexpected results.  The potential is to negatively impact over 10,000 employees, and an even higher number of customers.  Worse, this is a health care environment, and "impact" might mean something a lot more serious than someone not being able to listen to Pandora via the Internet.

I call making network changes on one's own time, without Change Management approval,  "Cowboy Networking", in the fond memory of the "Cowboy Diplomacy" practiced by James T. Kirk. 
That mentality might just be the result of insufficient staff to share work loads.  Management seems unable to understand our pressure to perform and achieve results on impractical schedules, which was incentive to do work now and ask forgiveness or permission later.

The size of the impact and the size of organization have made getting permission more important than making immediate changes (in general) that (may) result in significant down time.  No more can we "do" without first going through the "ask" process.  It is clear that "doing first and asking permission later" is a career-limiting and resume-generating event.

Even actions to correct emergency issues have been reprioritized to include seeking permission and providing proper notification.  If something is down--something that's mission-critical or business-critical--we may bypass the Change Management path up front, but we still get permission from our Manager or our I.T. Director or the C.I.O. before pulling the trigger.  And even then, we contact our Help Desk prior to making the change, since they may be inundated by calls and complaints, or they may already BE inundated, and will be relieved to understand the load may shortly be lifted.

No more Cowboy Networking for us.  Let the big shots take the heat while we play by the rules that Change Management has decreed mandatory prior to taking action.

Sure, it takes longer to get some things done.  But it's MUCH more fun than being under stress to do something immediately, and potentially making a mistake that makes everything worse instead of better.  We've got the time, and no need for the ulcers.


Umm, are you in my office here and we just haven't met? Maybe not, we are healthcare with only 2000 employees, but the rest of your story sounds just like mine here.

In business i have always heard a lot about the ask.  Anytime there is something about to happen, and big deal trying to close, a project being proposed, etc, the stake holders look and say what is the ask here.   Often that is the focus of the idea, the requirement, or the compromise. 

We fail to ask all the right questions and can fall short of our goals and can fail at communication.   But asking is important to be clear.  We have all heard the only bad question is the one not asked, but i say the even worse question is not asking the right question and asking the wrong one driving the wrong idea in the even worse direction.  

Prepare the ask for your situation.  Be prepared to answer, but never be afraid to ask, the ask.... 


  1. We are both named Richard
  2. We both support the Health Care Industry
  3. My organization works with Cerner Support for HDX access, and you are a Cerner I.T. guru
  4. We both use Solarwinds products
  5. We're both active on Thwack
  6. The WAN provider I use (CCI) just (merged? purchased? took over?) with FairPoint Communications (which has 17,000 miles of fiber in New England), which therefore might be the same WAN provider you use (
  7. Our organizations have similar policies concerning Cowboy Networking

Could we therefore be:


Level 21

If you aren't sure of something ASK!  Too often I run into people in the industry with ego's that feel they have something to prove and instead of asking when they should they push forward with things and end up causing problems for themselves and others.  Take the time to ASK as we are all here as part of a team working toward the same goals.

Where is Alta Vista? I think it was even referenced in an Arrested Development episode... or maybe another dry-witted great TV show. (There's my "Ask" for the day)

In my career I have been in many situation where I have had to ask. What I have learned is that there is value in HOW you ask. You get more with tact, grace, humility, and appreciation than treating someone like a search engine. Social interaction skills are required.

Level 12

Don't be afraid to ask if you don't know. No question is stupid

Level 11

Image result for ask

Just ask. what could it hurt.

He who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes.

He who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Level 11

Image result for why ask

Level 12

What ever happened to Lynx and the "text only" experience?

Level 9

With so much information at our fingertips, I sometimes find myself wasting a lot of time sorting through mounds of data. I love being able to ask other team members.

Level 10


Level 10


Level 12

Some people have commented in here that we IT people should know everything and that we should not need to ask anything. I have herd this same comment most of my IT life. I think that is completely backwards. There is no way anyone can no everything about everything when it comes to IT, or life in general. You have to be willing to ask the question, ask for help, just ask. If you are afraid to ask because your scared of sounding stupid, then you already are for not asking the question. It may be humbling to ask someone for guidance or assistance, but you will learn from it and your making a statement that you understand when you are in over your head and your willing to get help with it instead of bashing your head into the wall.

Level 9

One of the hardest things in IT for me to learn was just to "ask".  To me asking for help, for an answer, or for assistance was a sign of weakness.  I felt stupid, like I should know the answer, and when I was given the answer I felt even dumber, I should have known that!!

I now know that this is how we learn in IT, you can't know everything, and rather than waste your time or worse, the user's, you sometimes have to ask.

We are still searching for the question.

Level 11

I am the worst with movies because I "ask" other people way too many questions.  In IT, I also ask a lot of questions (for answers, help, clarification).  The latter has served me well, but the former has not! I need to stop or my wife will stop watching movies with me.


It's great how much easier it is to ask things.    You just type in your request in a little bar and search through the results.   I remember when you had to sit on hold for a long time just to ask your question to a vendor tech.  Then, you get and answer that you know is wrong and had to escalate it, and so on...   Yea, I wouldn't want to have to go back at this point!   That's why I find vendors who don't supply good detailed documentation frustrating!!

Level 9

ASK for help when needed, others, GOOGLE!, search and ask always.

Level 20

I used to get in trouble in grade school because I asked too many questions of the teachers...

Level 15

I try to teach my children the importance of asking all kinds of things. But essentially, I am trying to install the idea that they are not alone and that their community of family and friends will always be a support system. However, it is up to them to ASK for that help and not expect that others will be constantly in tune with their needs.

The more my children grow and new learning opportunities present themselves for me to teach, the more I realize that they are teaching me just as much.

Level 10

The first thing I teach new employees in the IT department is never be afraid to ask a question. In fact, if you don't ask any questions it might look very bad. That either means you think you know everything already, or you don't care to know how something is done correctly. That usually gets them asking. 😉

Level 17

I find it interesting you chose to laugh at Bing.

Bing was never built to compete as a search engine. Bing was created by R&D at Microsoft Research as a way to collect data. They took that data and processed it through their own machine learning algorithms. The same algorithms that they offer in Azure today.

That's why Bing was marketed as a "decision engine". Because every time you use it, every visit gets tracked and analyzed in an effort to make your web experience better. It's not about a simple search, it's about knowing why you are searching, and getting to the root cause of what you truly need.

Keep laughing all you want. But as we sit back and wonder how Microsoft has risen from the dead you only need to go back to 2009, and the creation of Bing as the start of a massive project to put them back on top.

I think it's working just fine for them.

I am fine with bing as an idea, I'm displeased by bing as a conceptual search engine. With that said, the fact that duckduckgo uses it I find equally poor and that they shoved it into facebook via their facebook deal I also dislike.Everyone uses analytics for their search engines, it's what referrals are for. I don't think bing deserves special credit for grabbing the same cookies and headers as everyone else

I wish I could ask microsoft why they thought forcing bing to market was a good idea, but I don't think I'd ever hear back.

Back to the concept of ask, never be afraid to ask for help - google is useful for what it is but represents our need as society to still be able to find information elsewhere than ourselves. Which always benefits everyone.

Level 17

I think Bing deserves credit because they were using the data in ways other companies were not. Google collects data in order to sell ads. Microsoft collects data to build you a better computing experience. That's a huge difference.


I've been using Bing almost exclusively for over a year. I find that the results that I get are just as good as Google. Even though people "poo poo" Bing as a search engine it seems very good to me. It seems that once Google became the "standard" and even a verb people tend towards that because that's what you are "supposed" to use.

Personally, I think Google is getting (as my grandmother would say) "too big for their britches" with all the news about "fake news" they (along with other internet giants) are trying to become the "internet police" in such matters and I don't think it's their place to decide for me what I should or should not see.

Level 10

I was just giving a friend some advice the other night, when it was mentioned that they didn't know if they liked going to so some of the technical meetups with me, because they felt intimidated by what they didn't know.  I told them, if someone comes up and asks you a question that is above your understanding, you shouldn't take that as a reason to feel insecure and stupid.  Take that as a moment to ask questions and learn.  If someone, strikes up a conversation, use that moment to pick their brain and learn more.  Then you will start to know more things and eventually will be able to have and be a part of a discussion on the topic, that is how all of the best geeks, that I know anyway, get to where they are. They ask questions....a lot of questions, and are prepared for absorbing the responses.

Level 10

What is Can I ask any question and get my answers?

How can I ask you not to be a thwackster?

Level 10

Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you