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Google Answers Stops

Friday, December 15th, 2006 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet
 
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Q:
I enjoyed using Google Answers, but now the site says it’s retired and is no longer accepting any questions. Do you know what happened? I’m very interested to find out.

A:
Yes, it’s true. Google Answers has decided to close up their answering shop once and for all. Google made the announcement just recently, which left several users disappointed and a little confused as to why they would stop the program. Although I can’t bring Google Answers back for you, I can give you a little insight as to what happened and why Google put an end to this well known and liked service.

First of all, some of you may not be sure what Google Answers is, so let me explain. Google Answers was a question/answer type of service where any Web user could post a question and Google’s experts (over 500 researches) would then answer it with the “best of their knowledge.” If you had a burning question that you just could not find the answer to, you could refer back to Google Answers and they would help you as best they could.

Google Answers also allowed any non-researchers to give their input on the questions asked, which allowed everyone to get involved. Now, the only thing that was a little strange about this service was that it required the user to pay a fee in order to have their question answered. If you wanted to ask a question, you could place your own amount on your question. It had to be $.50 and up, but the more money you put down, the more extensive your answer would be. That money would then be divided among the experts and Google. Users were also able to leave tips if they felt the researcher went out of their way to provide them with the “perfect” answer.

Okay, now with all of that out of the way, we can move on to why this useful service is no longer offered. One of the main reasons given is that Google wanted their researchers (mostly engineers) to move on to bigger projects. Now, while that is a good reply, there are some other instances that make it all a little more questionable.

During the four years that Google Answers was in operation, it received quite a bit of criticism. Some people were saying that Google was trying to make money by offering a service that could also be provided by librarians or even teachers. There was also a concern of students getting involved in plagiarism by asking a question and copying the expert’s answer word for word.

Now, along with all this, there are some rumors flying that it was actually the researchers who were upset with the way things worked. Once an expert gave their answer, the user could go and rate the question on a scale from one to five. If the researcher got a very low rating, they were usually sent for a review and could possibly lose their job. The service also offered a refund feature. If the user was unsatisfied with the answer they received or if it was confusing to them, they could ask for more information at no additional cost or they could ask for a complete refund. When a refund took place, the researcher would receive no payment, even though they took the time to research the answer and give the best possible reply.

So, all in all, it seems like the money issue was a major factor in Google Answers’ downfall. It gave the researchers no incentive to do their best work and so many of them would just give mediocre answers, which is not what the service was supposed to be about in the first place. Once word got around that the researchers were giving unsatisfactory answers, no one was asking questions. It all hurt Google Answers’ popularity and they just couldn’t get it back.

It seems as if human nature put this service to rest. It wasn’t any technological limitation this time. So, there you have it. Hopefully, this gives you a pretty good idea as to why Google Answers shut their doors. If you were an avid Google Answers user, I’m sorry to say, you’re probably out of luck. Either way you look at it, Google gave it a shot and you can’t blame them for that.

~ Erin

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