The phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my sister from Portland telling me about a full-page Ask.com ad in Tuesday's New York Times. It quoted one of my blog posts in very big letters. I haven't seen the ad, but my words, according to my sister: "From now on, I'm going to start using Ask.com..."

At first I felt like a movie critic whose single words--Gripping, Spellingbinding, Awesome!--are lifted from reviews and plastered on billboards. I dug up the blog post. It was a favorable look at Ask, so I cannot say my words were taken out of context. Here's the paragraph:

Are ads, sponsored links and search engine optimization screwing up search results? I just did a little test, and my conclusion is Yes. From now on, I'm going to start using Ask.com and other less popular sites, because I think they're less polluted by all of the above.

I should probably note that despite that bold statement in May, I still find myself typing search requests in the handy Google slot on the Safari browser. This is the giant's built-in advantage, its installed base. Ask will need to knock off my socks a few more times to disrupt my search routines. Just did a little test and searched the post on both engines. Ask responded with one post, the correct one. Google found 85, but put the correct one first.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE