Ask me another – TrueKnowledge's Quizbot aims at 118118

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.”