Just noticed the other day that Google switched their “definition” link from dictionary.com to answers.com. When I first saw it, I was irritated about the switch, but after I realized that answers.com is a better resource, my irritation lasted about two seconds. On one page, they list not only the definition of a word, but also the thesaurus entry, the Wikipedia entry (if applicable), translations into more than 10 languages (including Greek, Arabic, Chinese, and Hebrew), and some related topics. They’ve even got pages for terms that dictionary.com doesn’t have, like “snoop dogg”. And for a word like “reaganomics”, answers.com brings in info from Investopedia, a useful-looking financial information site.
Walter Mossberg recently profiled answers.com in the WSJ. I wonder if the folks from Google read this (or had seen answers.com previously…more likely) and thought, hey, we should be linking to these guys instead of dictionary.com. The cynic in me feels like money had to have changed hands in order for this to have happened (maybe Google is an investor in GuruNet, maybe GuruNet paid for that placement), but the optimist in me says that Google is still a weird little company where the members of project teams can stumble across a better resource that will make their users happier and more productive and implement it on the live site quickly, even if the company that provides that resource could be considered a competitor. Would love to know which it is.
Update: it’s the user experience, by a landslide.