Answers.com is a free online service that provides definitions and encyclopedic-entries on millions of topics. (It is also an Israeli company – I had to add that :)). The company has now partnered with Automattic, the guys behind WordPress, with a new plugin for self-hosted WordPress blogs, and with an integrated service on WordPress.com blogs.
The plugin will add a button to the toolbar that, when clicked, creates an automatic link from a word to its entry on Answers.com. Here’s the explanation from the press release:
To use the new feature, WordPress.com bloggers will press the AnswerLinks(TM) icon (http://www.answers.com/main/wordpress_howto.jsp) on the WordPress editing toolbar to trigger an application that will suggest terms for automatic linking. Typical suggestions will include names, technical terms or obscure language that may not be familiar to some readers. Only words confirmed by the author will be linked to definitions, assuring full editorial control.
I can see how this could be useful; often when I’m writing about topics that I know many people aren’t familiar with, I’ll link key words to their entry on Wikipedia. This may be a faster way to provide that type of helpful information to users.
This is also a nice development for Answers.com, who recently bought dictionary.com for a bazillion dollars in cash (ok, it’s more like $100 million, which in my world is a bazillion), a move whose wisdom was questioned by many. I don’t know if this new partnership will spell success for Answers, but it’s a move in what seems to be the right direction.