chacha challengeA fast-growing mobile information service claims to be giving Google a run for its money. We decided to put it to the TechCult test.

ChaCha is a free cell phone-based question-and-answer system. It lets you send any question as a text message to 242242 (CHACHA) any time, day or night. Within minutes, a real person will find an answer and text you back. But could it handle our questions? We started with some good old-fashioned self-contradiction.

Our Question: How do you send a text message?

ChaCha’s Answer: Go to menu on your phone, find messages and click okay or enter to confirm your selection. Find new text messages and click.

Not bad, ChaCha…not bad. But ignoring the smartass nature of our query can’t keep us down.

Our Question: What is the best question to ask a text messaging-based information service?

ChaCha’s Answer: You should ask anything you want to know.

Touché. Here’s what I want to know:

Our Question: How do you answer a question that isn’t really asking anything?

ChaCha’s Answer: Here at ChaCha, we do our best to analyze what the answer is our customer is looking for and deliver it to them! ChaCha on!

All righty then. Time to get personal.

Our Question: Are you shy?

ChaCha’s Answer: Nope, I am not shy. I am very outgoing.

This ChaCha seems to be cha-challenging me back. Time to turn up the heat.

Our Question: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

ChaCha’s Answer: Woodchucks prefer burrowing to climbing trees. But they can chuck a lot of dirt, so if they COULD chuck wood, watch out!

Well-played, sir (or madam). There’s only one thing left to do, then: let this thing do my job.

Our Question: What would be a funny closing line for an article about a text-based information service?

ChaCha’s Answer: Maybe you could try a funny movie quote like this one from “The Addams Family”: Pugsley: We’re not shy! Wednesday: We’re contagious!

Hmm…I’m not so sure. But ChaCha hasn’t steered me wrong yet. So what the hell. It’s been real, compadres…ChaCha on.

“Pugsley: We’re not shy! Wednesday: We’re contagious!”

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