Ask me another – TrueKnowledge's Quizbot aims at 118118

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UK startup TrueKnowledge, a question/answer platform, has launched Quizbot – a consumer-facing front-end which will allow users to ask questions and get answers. It’s able to answer questions via the Web, Twitter or SMS. The service will compete with other Q&A platforms which tend to be human-powered like Texperts and 118118.

Quizbot surfaced a couple of weeks ago on Twitter, but the service goes live officially now. The Twitter functionality works well as the questions tend to be shorter, so questions about things like time zone questions, geography questions, famous people, etc. work quite well. The Web version is here. You can text a question (preceded by the word quizbot) to 82820. Texts cost 15p each.

Now, the issue with with these Q&A platforms is that they usually require some form of human intervention like a call-centre type operation.

I asked Quizbot: What is the weather in London?

It’s reply was: “I understood your question but I don’t know the answer. You can add the answer by signing up to True Knowledge”

I asked (an older Q&A startup) and the same question and both came back with London’s weather forecast correctly.

However, Quizbot’s reply was immediate, free on the web and 15p on text. Texperts and 118118 required me to confirm first via text, then the reply came over 5 minutes later. Plus they, along with AQA 63336 cost around a pound to interrogate.

So what Quizbot needs to do now is to get more questions. As founder William Tunstall-Pedoe admits: “Getting people’s feedback on the questions and seeing the questions asked is very valuable and helps the system improve.”

But TrueKnowledge really should get the URL if it’s serious about using this as a consumer front end. Right now it’s owned by a company that makes Quiz and Gameshow controllers.

This might be an early public demo of the platform rather than a core product “intended to be a bit of fun that shows off some of what our question answering platform can do without forcing users to apply for an account,” says Tunstall-Pedoe. But all this marketing for a brand that might be dumped later on will get wasted, which is time few can afford right now. If I were them I’d go register or similar.

But Quizbot/True Knowledge still impresses in other ways. If you ask it “How old is True Knowledge?” it comes back with “the age 3 years and 4 months old.”

  • Rufus Evison

    You can have some fun finding out the extent of the data held; try asking who is followed by famous and not so famous names.

    It knows obama and bill gates and can tell me who is tallest of the two. Asked who is John smith it asks me to be more specific, so all good there. Now for the killer question, what does it say if you ask who is mike butcher? Well it is good news and bad there. It knows who Mike Butcher is:

    Michael Dana Butcher (born May 10, 1965 in Davenport, Iowa), currently the pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays

  • Sylv James

    It may be cheap but I’d much rather pay more for the superior service provided by AQA 63336. I have been disappointed by 118118 in the past and the racist joke fiasco showed them to be unreliable. Texperts have, so I understand, been bought by a company with links to 118118. Give me 63336 anytime!

  • Flipper Boots

    Yes, I would recommend AQA 63336 too. I use them for bus/train times when I’m out and about and they nearly always reply within a few minutes and with lots of info. Rather £1 on something worthwhile than 15p on something pointless!

  • Nick Daines

    It seems to have lots of gaps in its knowledge: but full marks for answering “who was in the Beatles?” with “Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best and Paul McCartney”

  • Matt Randall

    Hi, I too also find AQA 63336 to be the most reliable source of information when it comes to question services. It is also entertaining.

    Compare this to 118118, I’ve asked them a few challenging questions in the past and they actually totally ignored my texts.

    I’ve never tried Texperts, but I found a press release, which confirms that Texperts is to be acquired by KGB, who have an mobile advertising initiative running for 118118.{8BB32322-52C5-47A7-A479-BEA77E253798}

    As for Quizbot I’m looking forward to having a play around with it. I’m hoping that they will be able to develop it even further in future.

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