Thursday, November 30, 2006

Google Answers Closes Shop

The comparisons between the booming Yahoo Answers and the shuttering Google Answers (see our initial reporters’ log post from last night) are pretty stark. Google Answers wasn’t bad — it was an extremely cheap way to outsource random research questions and get a trustworthy result — but it never really took off.

On the other hand ... Yahoo PR just emailed to remind us Answers has accumulated 60 million users worldwide (14.4 million uniques in October according to comScore) and 160 million answers.

Yahoo has a community based answering system, based on "points".
"When you ask a question you lose points. In order to get points back you need to answer questions. Someone couldn’t only ask questions and stay in the system long. Plus, the real addicting part of Y! Answers is the question answering. Some of our top users who have more than 100,000 pts have only asked a few questions.”

In contrast, Google had a core of about 500 approved experts (800 total answerers over the product’s 4-year lifespan) who provided detailed, thoughtful responses to users’ questions.

The common wisdom will tell you Yahoo is much better at creating community, and the common wisdom is right. At the same time, Google Answers had value that had nothing to do with community.

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