ChaCha, the Hoosier-powered search engine which uses conscripted human guides who work for former ChaCha board members at a public university, has struggled to distinguish itself as anything more than an object of prank callers. So how does the little search engine from Indiana plan to boost user numbers? By boldly going where no man has gone before! ChaCha is courting the Trekkie set by using some of the $10 million it got in a recent financing round to fund the production of the fan-produced Star Trek: New Voyages.

The startup has released a Star Trek-themed search toolbar for Web browsers. Every search made through the toolbar means a donation to the production of Star Trek: New Voyages. The fan series is better-produced than the original series it honors, but it cranks out episodes at a glacial pace: three episodes in as many years.

We doubt there are enough hardcore Star Trek fans to make a real difference in ChaCha's numbers. An easier explanation? Scott Jones, ChaCha's CEO, has to be a Trekkie himself to be pursuing this. I hope the citizens of Indiana are happy knowing that their tax money is funding Jones's geek obsessions.