The latest post at the Ask.com blog
begins, "For a long time people have wanted the ability to search for terms and phrases on the web using non-letter (A-Z) characters. Put another way, searching using non-alphanumeric characters." This is a promising start--I've occasionally been annoyed by the fact that Google interprets almost all non-alphanumeric characters as spaces--but then things go off in a different direction: emoticons. I really wasn't aware that there were so many people crying out for a way to find the meanings of certain emoticons, but apparently there are. As a result, you can now search for :)
and Ask.com will tell you, via what it calls the Smart Answer box, what it's supposed to mean. Ask.com doesn't really say how many emoticons it knows, but it does seem to be missing some like :-[
and it also doesn't seem to differentiate between upper- and lowercase, so it interprets :-d
as the same as :-D
("laughing, big smile"). It does, however, toss at least one non-emoticon into the mix, which the geeks in the audience will recognize: /.
, as well as some popular acronyms like LOL
. It even has WTF
(uncensored!) but not, curiously, OMG.