Google search helps us find answers to billions of questions, even to hilarious and unimaginable ones. Still often Internet users are too lazy to scan multiple pages to get their burning questions answered, they want to get help asap. Therefore, question-and-answer (Q&A) websites are flourishing nowadays. Succeeding good old forums, Q&A sites have one obvious advantage: you don’t have to scroll endless forum threads to find an answer to your query. Everything is easy and fast: you submit a question into an appropriate category and the community answers it. The process may take just a few seconds. Well, let’s observe the most popular Q&A sites together.
Probably, it’s the most popular knowledge market with millions of users and thousands of questions asked and answered daily. All the questions fall into categories covering all spheres of life – from politics to pregnancy. Each category also has multiple subdivisions, so you can easily search for related issues. The site gives members the chance to earn points for their participation, e.g. 2 points for answering a question, 10 points if your answer was selected as the best. The received points increase your level with corresponding privileges. Yahoo!Answers community is pretty fast, you may expect that your question will be answered within several minutes, though the site keeps it open for four days. There is little space for advertising, since Yahoo moderators strictly review the answers and suspend accounts for promotional posts. Yahoo Q&A site is localized for 26 countries.
Quora can be described as a continually improving collection of questions and answers. The service first made its debut in 2010, but was first available only for invited users (now it’s open to anyone with Facebook or Twitter account). Quora allows users to follow topics, boards, questions, and other people to keep up with trends. However, the main advantage of Quora lies in its community of reputable experts — real doctors, software developers, economists, marketers, engineers, etc. When asking a question, you may address it to any experts available. In many cases, your question has already been answered by people with first-hand experience, so the system will announce you about that. Users can also collaborate by editing questions and answers, rewarding good answers and penalizing bad ones.
Askville is Q&A service by Amazon. The site is designed to run much like a computer game: users receive “quest gold” by answering questions in particular topics and voting on the worth of other people’s answers. In the past, these coins could be redeemed for items in an Askville store, but now it’s out of stock. Unlike other Q&A sites, Askville has really evolved into a social community with a strong camaraderie among the members. Askvillians can enter into long debates sparked by individual questions and make supportive friendships through discussion boards. There are dozens of topics for questions, from funny to technical ones – all are user-made.
Mahalo is very similar to Yahoo! Answers: users pose questions regarding a wide variety of subjects, and those questions are answered by other users. A key difference between the two services is that Mahalo allows questioners to give a monetary reward (called a “tip” on the site) to the user who provides the most helpful response. Tips are paid using “Mahalo dollars”, which are bought using PayPal, and, once earned, can then either be used to tip other users or be cashed in at the Mahalo online Store.
All Experts is one of the first large-scale Q&A services. Created in early 1998, it assembled thousands of volunteers, including top lawyers, doctors, engineers, and scientists, waiting to answer users’ questions. The help of experts is totally free and most answers come within a day! You can choose a category for your questions and preview other questions under the same category. The only thing that embarrasses about the site today is a lot of advertising.
Spring (Formspring) is a social Q&A website which allows users to relate their opinions on any topic. The site is set up as a forum. Users have a profile page and may ask questions and follow others privately. Spring (Formspring) also asks one question per day named “Formspring Question of the Day” which is flashed in user’s inbox. Spring is ideal for asking questions which don’t need precise information, but appeal to users experience and urge to share their thoughts and ideas. There is a special smile button which acts similar to the Like button on Facebook and lets rate users’ questions and answers.