Google Answers

from the interesting dept

For many years I’ve been a big fan of business ideas that involve the human brain as part of the competitive advantage. Admittedly, it might not be as scalable as some automated web-based widget, but it certainly adds some real value… if done correctly. That’s the basis behind Techdirt Corporate Intelligence – it’s the human intelligence on top of the technology that makes it valuable over whatever automated solution. So, I remember around 1997 or so being really impressed with the idea behind HumanSearch.com (out of business for quite a while) which had real people who would try to answer questions you sent them by searching the web for you. Basically, web-based reference librarians. HumanSearch had a business model problem (they didn’t charge). Now, Google is trying to revive the same idea with Google Answers. It’s apparently still in beta, but people can submit questions, including how much they’re willing to pay for the answer. Google is looking for “researchers” who answer the questions. There’s an application process and the researcher gets 75% of the fee. It doesn’t cost Google very much since they only pay researchers based on questions answered. The big question is how Google will do quality control. That’s the one big downside to human-based businesses. Quality is everything, and if you can’t control it, the business will suffer. The other question, of course, is whether or not enough people have questions that they’re willing to pay others to answer on such a random basis. Update: News.com has more details about the program, which they compare with the various “expert” sites that were popular a few years ago.


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Comments on “Google Answers”

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2 Comments
Roger Hanson says:

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The cost structure appears to be questionable. The user with plenty of time on his hands can just use Google himself. Someone who really needs a quality answer should be willing and able to pay a bit more than the $4 – $50 that was suggested.

On the same note, a professional researcher knows the value of his or her time, and at those prices, there would have to be some really high volume to keep a researcher engaged.

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