Ask Jeeves was the original name of Ask.com, an early search engine. When it launched, the website featured a cartoon butler named Jeeves and attempted to answer questions in addition to providing search results.
Ask Jeeves launched in 1995 in Berkeley, California, making it one of the earliest search engines. The character Jeeves lasted until 2006, when Ask.com announced his retirement; however, a new version of Jeeves appeared on the U.K. and Irish version of the website in 2009. In 2010, Ask.com announced that the website would no longer provide search engine results and would instead focus on its question-and-answer capabilities. Ask.com's return to its question-and-answer roots focused on providing answers written by people instead of attempting to pull data from Internet resources.
The Ask Toolbar, a toolbar that takes up space in popular web browsers and changes the user's default search engine to Ask.com, has been a significant source of criticism for the company. Many programs, including popular ones such as Oracle's Java Runtime Environment, offer to install the Ask Toolbar during the installation process. However, these programs sometimes require users to select a "Custom Installation" checkbox when installing the software to opt out of installing the toolbar, leading to many unintended installations. As a result, many security companies regard the Ask Toolbar as malware.