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Ask Jeeves, About.com Ink Distribution Pact

Ask Jeeves and About.com, a leading network of niche vertical sites, Friday forged a content distribution agreement.

The deal calls for Ask Jeeves (ASKJ) to appear on all of About.com's (BOUT)) search results pages. Also, Ask Jeeves will provide About.com users with another resource to find answers to their questions.

In turn, About.com will have placement on all Ask Jeeves question response pages. Ask Jeeves users will now receive access to new content by linking directly into relevant articles in About.com's network of topic-specific sites.

"By adding About.com as a metasearch partner we are bolstering the Web resources that consumers can tap into for answers at Ask.com," said Ted Briscoe, senior vice president and general manager of Ask Jeeves' Consumer Question Answering Service.

"Additionally, the exposure we will get on About.com will allow us to introduce the ease and relevance of Ask.com to millions of new users."

Ask Jeeves provides question answering services for clients and companies on the Web by allowing users to ask questions in plain English and be directed to Web sites containing the answer.

In November, Ask Jeeves grabbed Net Effect Systems for about $319 million in stock, adding a live-help Web-searching service to link clients to live experts who can answer questions by e-mail or telephone. Ask Jeeves eventually hopes to expand internationally in the hopes of trying to pull neck and neck with other search engines, such as Yahoo! (YHOO) in the query answering department.

About.com is the leading network of niche vertical sites for users and marketers. The network includes over 650 highly targeted environments, each overseen by a professional guide. This week, About.com bought business technology provider North Sky to offer Web hosting and site development for businesses. About.com, which hopes to offer free e-mail, Web pages and instant messaging with the deal, sold 500,000 unregistered shares, worth approximately $29 million, to acquire the company.