Ask has just launched a new search service called BigNews, similar to Google News with a side of Digg. It uses something called “BigFactor” to rank stories (using signals like freshness, impact, quantity of multimedia, and amount of related discussion), provides category clusters, and lets you browse by top Diggs and no Diggs (as Mashable asks, why?). It also contains a “Blogviews” section that seems to simply highlight the latest posts from selected blogs.
BigNews is starting with more than 10,000 news sources, but no word on how to get your news site added.
The help documentation notes that expanded personalization features will be available in future releases. For now, you can filter by source and do refined searches. You can also track stories using RSS and can save stories to MyStuff.
As noted in a recent PEW Research Center study, Yahoo! and Microsoft (via msnb.com) lead the pack for search-engine powered news sites. Google News is used by only 9% of web searchers (compared to 26% for msnbc.com and 22% for Yahoo! News).
If Google can’t rise to lead, can Ask hope to? The help documentation explains why Ask thinks you might want to try BigNews even if you use another news site:
Do you like finding many viewpoints, not just stories from the wire services? Do you like the idea of a mix of results of videos, images, articles, and blogs in one neat package? Do you like more effective search tools to find a specific story of interest? Do you like the idea of knowing which stories people are talking around the water cooler? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then, we welcome you to Ask BigNews.