Long before Google existed, there was an answers service along the lines of Google Answers. From the April 1997 issue of Gigabyte GrapeVine Magazine:
You can ask them anything on any subject, and the odds are they will come up with the correct answer within 24 hours… but it will cost you.
Answers.com, on the World Wide Web, is affectionately called the human-powered search engine by its CEO, Clem Izzi because unlike other search engines on the Web, Answers.com employs a global network of human “answer advisors” that field questions 24 hours a day, and will typically come up with a correct answer within 24 hours. Along with the summary to your questions, their people will point out other sites that will have more info on your chosen topic or topics.
The amount you pay for your answer is directly related to the complexity of the question and the depth of research involved to provide the answer. A simple question such as … “What is the fastest airplane in the world?” … would cost about two dollars. If someone would ask for … “a list of all the components required to connect a local area network for 12 computers” … that would cost them close to $6. A question involving multiple computations or several avenues of research would cost somewhat more ie … “What is the amount of money spent each year in the automotive industry on the maintenance of their sales offices as compared to that of the home appliance industry”.
If you have the need for a fresh and original answer on any topic, and you think it’s worth a few bucks, you might want to point your browser to: [http://www.answers.com]
Researcher laare-ga filled me in on what happened after that. Answers.com was ahead of its time, and became unprofitable after the first dot-com bust. It sold for a small amount around the time that Google Answers began.
Clem Izzi then became a researcher at Google Answers, under the screen name of seedy-ga. He enjoyed his contributions to the service, where he is fondly remembered by many.
According to Rutgers Alumni Magazine’s Class of 62, Clem “retired as a business executive in 2000. Sadly, he developed a nasty medical condition that led to paraplegia. He’s worked hard to adjust, and uses a converted Dodge Grand Caravan and wheelchair for mobility. He has been back to NJ frequently and is an avid sports fan. He credits his dedicated wife and others for keeping him feisty and active”.
I understand that since then his condition has further deteriorated. We wish you well, seedy, and miss you.
Answers.com in its modern form launched in March of 2005 as a reference source with, according to Wikipedia, over four million entries collected from multiple sources.