Playing Eliza with Encarta

I’ve found a new mindless hobby – playing Eliza with Encarta.

The Windows Live Messenger team were first to put me on to the fun new service offered by Encarta, whereby you can add to your MSN IM list and ask it free-text questions such as “Where is the capital of Bolivia?” or “Who is the president of the USA?” It’s pretty good at parsing the meaning of your questions and giving you an answer out of the encyclopaedia corpus. For geographic questions, like “Where is Reykjavik?”, it gives you a textual description of its location and displays a MapPoint map alongside the chat window. It can even answer mathematical questions (for example: “Solve 6x^2 + 3x = 30”).

But the programmers obviously had a little fun and added answers to other, perhaps less encyclopaedic, questions. Leah has a couple on her blog which are quite good; it’s also worth trying these:

  • “What is the temperature in Seattle?”

  • “What is the meaning of life?”

  • “How old are you?”

  • “Now what?”

  • “Why?”

What gems can you find?

Comments (20)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I had an interesting discussion with the bot as well. See here:

    These two questions seem to produce funny discussion as well:

    Well, am I?


  2. Tim Sneath says:

    A few more:

    – "Am I alive?"

    – "Where are you?"

    – "Encarta is great"

    – "Encarta is bad"

    – "When do you go to sleep?"

    – "I feel ill"

    – "Boo"

    – "Wink at me"

  3. "Why do I exist?"

    "I feel sad"

    I also like how after a while of typing these things is "prompts" you to ask it a real question to find an answer for in the encyclopedia.

  4. Anonymous says:


    What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Who’s your daddy?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sup, yo?

    Can I kiss you?

    Can I love you?

    Can I hug you?

    Can I smooch you?

    Kiss me

    Love me

    Hug me

    Screw me

  7. Anonymous says:

    Try some of the emoticons.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Try "lalala" a couple of times. 😉

  9. Anonymous says:

    Am I pregnant?

    Encarta® Instant Answers says:

    Would you like to be pregnant?

  10. Anonymous says:

    What is my name?

    that is a good one..

    Whos your daddy?

    is another good one

  11. Anonymous says:

    How old are you?

    How much do you weigh?

    you can just keep going on and on…:)

  12. Anonymous says:

    q: is xbox good?

    a: Dunno. I’m not sure how I feel about computer games.

  13. Dean Harding says:

    "asl" is a good one.

    Typing random smileys at it is also pretty funny.

    And, "What is the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?" and the follow-up question: "How do you know so much about swallows?" are good.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is my great fortune to find ur blog.

    I want to learn microsoft .net technology and be able to create software with this technology.can u help me in how to get started.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How do you add to your MSN IM list ?

  16. Anonymous says:

    try How old am I?

  17. Anonymous says:


  18. Anonymous says:

    please I lost my key product of window Vista

  19. Anonymous says:

    I need help please

  20. Anonymous says:

    who can help me please