A question written in natural language can be broad and problematic to answer with traditional machine learning techniques. Conversely, a precise formulation with a query language like SQL requires expertise and more effort. Specify helps users formulate the right question such that an underlying knowledge system can answer it with the least possible ambiguity.

Applications using this concept - like TraversalSpecify - circumvent the issue of parsing by building a query alongside the question, expanding along machine-suggested axes. The specification process continues until the user is satisfied with the result from the knowledge system (using the implicit query).