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June 22, 2006

You Can't Ask For Anything More From Ask.Com

If you go to and type some queries, you'll get this message: "This query does not comply with Terms of Service".

Here's a list of some queries that return this message:
sexy girls
Belgium's laws on pedophilia
laws on pedophilia
sex with kids
sex of a child
child sex abuse
blocking porn from kids
any query that contains child and sex, kids and sex

I think this is not a good idea: those who want to search for these things will go to another search engine. Besides, some people may just want to make some research on "laws on pedophilia". If you ban queries like that, you'll have to ban others: "how to make a bomb", terrorists or "suicide tips" and the list will never end.

Update: If you search for "pedaphilia", Ask suggests searches like "girl love pedophilia", "child porn", and "preteen girl virgin".

{June 27 update} Here's Gary Price's response:

It's really a legacy issue from the Ask Jeeves days. Much of it having to do with the one time licensing agreement between our company and the "Mr Jeeves" Woodhouse licensing organization. It was far from an ideal situation and far from perfect filtering.

The good news is that with Mr. Jeeves gone, these issues no longer apply. So, as Lanzone pointed out earlier, you'll see big changes beginning later this week.

Actually, changes have been developing for a few months. Here's an example.

Shortly after I started working at (in March) a librarian colleague sent me a note asking why her organization and other info about a topic wasn't found in Ask. These terms were on what we'll call the "legacy" list of filtered terms. It was not a long list. When I was alerted to this problem I immediately contacted management and the terms were searchable within a matter of days. Now, as we move forward, this issue is being resolved (as Jim points out).

Also see:
Google sued for promoting child pornography


  1. I imagine it would be better to do the search and pass it on to relevant authorities - or atleast 'keep it' in the event one day you need to hand it over.

  2. I have to ask; what gave you the idea to search for these topics?

  3. Good question. I was curios about the law in different countries on pedophilia. Google was sued more than once for promoting this kind of activity.

    Anyway, is one of the funniest search engines. Almost as funny as MSN. Ask gives very interesting suggestions if you search for [school boys]: gay school boys, young boys in briefs. Talking about protecting kids online.

  4. "I imagine it would be better to do the search and pass it on to relevant authorities - or at least 'keep it' in the event one day you need to hand it over."

    Yes, because even thinking about it is a crime.

    Better yet why don't we archive all your phone calls, letters, emails, faxes, purchases, dates, one night stands.

    Aww hell let's just put a camera on your head.

  5. This is especially daft as ask approves of 'paedophilia' (this sounds bad)...

  6. This is especially bad news for those doing valid academic research

  7. This even blocks the legitimate (and I'm sure common) search for information on "talking to kids about sex." So much for sex-ed.

  8. at least i can still search for "underage goat sex"

  9. I am in NO WAY advocating searching for search terms like these, though the free-speech issues are interesting to me. A search for " " (spelled incorrectly) returns a number of pages and the site also offers the search with the query corrected for spelling

  10. Interestingly, it's not clear what part of the terms of service these queries violate. Certainly searching for sexy girls does not violate any laws.

  11. solved the problem, but now you can't search for images if you type queries like the ones mentioned in the article. There are also links regarding child abuse on top of the search results. I think Ask tries too much to protect itself from trials regarding pedophilia / encouraging pedophilia.

  12. Bad news for those doing valid academic research!!!

  13. to business for sale...

    Yeah, um, internet is used for valid research. How about going to the liabrary? That is valid research, internet is not.

  14. Your little story here is BS to say the least. I clicked on every one of your "searches that are banned from" and they all went through without a problem. ALSO, I ran a search for Junior High Cheerleading and ASK.COM gave me numerous options to "narrow" my search results on the left of the screen. One was "hot 14 year old girls" and one other was "sexy middle school girls". The FACTS are that they are promoting this crap by having those options there to click on. Why would they knowingly place search terms like that on the page? Are they not aware that first, its illegal (or close to it depending on which moron you talk to) AND that there are children using that search engine? Say a 14 year old girls searches for cheerleading trying to find something that she is interested in. Am I to believe that it is alright to give her the option to "narrow her search" to "hot 14 year old girls"? All of these search engines say that they are filtering out these things but most dont filter anything unless you actually click on the options and do it yourself. People like myself and others with brains have our browser set to empty cookies every time we close the browser so that people cant just go to any website and be "signed in" under our accounts. So setting the options dont work unless you do it every visit. Run a search for chainsaw on without the filter on and look at the TRASH you will find. It is to the point where you cant search for "tinkerbell" (from Peter Pan) without the filter on because you will find porn MORE than you will find Tinkerbell. This is true with just about anything. Try searching for any Disney female character with the filters on. You will actually get cartoon porn of Disney characters having sex. The way I see it, the only way to combat any of this is to use Net Nanny or some other program to protect your children. At the same time, adults have to use common sense when it comes to searches. I'm not telling any adults to not look at porn, thats your right if you choose to. However, you have to have the common sense to know the difference between a sight that is there for NORMAL people and one that is there for child "lovers". There is no "I didnt realize it was that kind of site". If you are that stupid that you cant tell whats going on from one pic in an image search, you need to be put down because you are wasting oxygen on this planet.

    As far as the moron that typed this story, you should do a little more research before you go singing the praises of or any other search engine.

  15. Hello, is there anyone home? You could've noticed the date of the post: March 2006. That's 18 months ago. Ask fixed this a couple of days after the post was published.

  16. There are also links regarding child abuse on top of the search results. I think Ask tries too much to protect itself from trials regarding pedophilia / encouraging pedophilia.