"Instant answers about X" - the meta instant answer.

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2 Votes • 8 Comments
Currently, if one types "ddg instant answers", one is pointed to the defunct goodies list. This should be repaired.

But the number of instant answer patterns has grown to the point that such a list is no longer useful. I often try nonexistent instant answers, only to learn later that versions with a slightly different syntax do exist. Recent examples include "telephone country code for Portugal" ("Call code" does work), or "10 oz of gold in EUR" ("10 XAU" does work).

I think it it time for a meta instant answer, where I can type "Instant answers about currencies", or "Instant answers about telephone", and get a list of all the syntax patterns that have been tagged with those keywords.
Tags could come from several sources:
- The programmers of the instant answers.
- The data bases used (e.g. "Instant answers about Amsterdam" would show syntax patterns for temperature, time, telephone area code, and much more). This alone would already be very interesting: how much can DDG tell me about X?
- Users. I am sure users would quickly build up a very useful set of tags, if given the opportunity.

Ideally, each pattern given should be clickable, providing more information (including access to the database used, so that I could see the set of keywords that would be accepted).

In my view, this is the natural next step for DDG instant answers.
DDG itself. Guaranteed full access for free, for ever.
• posted 3 years and 11 months ago On Hold

Hey there,

This is a great idea, and it's actually something we're currently working towards as part of our larger IA Pages project which is currently in beta but can be seen here.

The IA Pages are mostly geared towards devs in our community, but because it's all powered with JSON it means we'll eventually have a powerful API that provides data about Instant Answers. Our plan is to use this API to build a meta Instant Answer that would work in a similar manner to what you've described above. Seeing as we're in beta right now, this won't be happening to soon though. We'll be sure to keep everyone posted. You can follow the development of the IA pages on our Community Platform repo.

For now I'm marking this idea as "On Hold", but I'm glad to see that our interests and plans are aligned!
posted by Moollaza Staff3 years and 11 months ago Link
Great! And thanks for the link. You might want to put that link instead of the broken one in the "DDG Instant Answers" instant answer.
Please contact me again when you get closer to implementing this, because I have lots of specific ideas on how to make this maximally useful, even when the number of syntax patterns goes into the millions rather than thousands. (E.g. hierarchical keywords: "programming" should not flood the user with patterns, but besides some general patterns there would be a set of sub-keywords, such as specific languages. Probably the user is interested in only one or a few languages at a time, so she can then query that language to get all the language-specific patterns.)

And now that I have the attention of a staff member - for more than a year now I have been complaining that the !latin bang doesn't work, and have been met with total silence. The almost identical !greek bang does work fine, so I suppose repairing !latin should be trivial, yet it doesn't happen. Please?
posted by <hidden> • 3 years and 11 months ago Link
Sorry about !latin, where did you report that it was broken?

I'm not familiar with the perseus.tufts.edu domain, but it looks like "!latin {term}" should go to:


I'll make a task to fix this.
posted by Moollaza Staff3 years and 10 months ago Link
Actually it looks like it should go here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morp...{term}&la=la

Looks like the bang is adding a space into the URL which is breaking it. Will fix!
posted by Moollaza Staff3 years and 10 months ago Link
I reported it several times, sometimes as a bug, and a few times as if I were proposing a new !bang.

The pattern is mangled when I post it directly (see your own examples), so I'll post it in parts:


Maybe code works..

If you try !greek {term}, and on the result page switch to latin, you get there all right - but it is a bother to have to do that all the time.

I don't think the #lexicon actually adds much, but it is what perseus itself produces..

Thanks a lot for your willingness to look into this!

P.S.: It still looks weird to type this above your comments, in order to have it appear below them.
posted by <hidden> • 3 years and 10 months ago Link
I think I can explain the order of comments: While reading one propably wants the last reply last. When writing an answer, one might want to check the text one is replying to without scrolling through a long thread. On the other hand I agree that this looks a bit strange, but don't have a better idea on how to display it.
posted by <hidden> • 3 years and 10 months ago Link
!latin still doesn't work. :-(
posted by <hidden> • 3 years and 8 months ago Link
It now works! Hurray!!
posted by <hidden> • 3 years and 4 months ago Link