Thursday, March 08, 2007

Answers from the great beyond

Remember Google Answers? Anyone? No, didn’t think so, as it was hardly the most popular service that Google ever provided. Indeed, you can probably count the number of services that Google has launched and then closed on the fingers of one hand, and possibly even one finger. Google Answers launched in April 2002 and did that other rare thing for a Google product, came out of Beta juts one year and one month later. Yet it closed down in November, after four years and the participation of 800 ‘researchers’ answering questions for cash.

The only official statement regarding the closure talks about it being “a great experiment” and “reconsidering our goals for a product” but ironically provides no real answers as to why the plug was pulled. The consensus of opinion out in the blogosphere is that the researchers just got fed up with the way they were treated when it came to the cash grab for the high dollar questions which did not necessarily result in the most qualified expert getting the gig, nor the folding stuff. Which was another problem, apparently, as there were complaints that money was being held back even if a correct answer was given because customers without the brain power to properly absorb the answer marked them as not being satisfied. It was something of a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction on both sides of the fence, with the researchers most able to answer the questions being least likely to bother putting in the time so to do, and the punters getting ever more dissatisfied with the crap answers from the non-expert researchers just out for a quick buck.