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Earning Money With ChaCha  (View post)

Ryan [PersonRank 0]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
16 years ago6,900 views

wow, at first glance only one word comes to mind when searching this site:


in searching without a guide... the site offers me nothing but DMOZ results served up with ads all around them.

Where's the value to the user here? What's different for me than searching the DMOZ? (other than all the text ads)

Ramibotros [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Wow I wished I could even take a look at it..
I'm highly interested to join

Missy [PersonRank 4]

16 years ago #

The value really lies in searching with a Guide.

A common problem for users searching on their own – Joe Average User, not people like us who have our heads jammed into the 'net all day – is that they get a page of results and don't know where to start looking for information.

Which site is good (authoritative, informative)? Which site is spamtastic and will leave behind trojans? Most average users just don't know, and it frustrates them. When searching with a Guide, you've got a Real Live Person to tell exactly what you're looking for and to ask questions of, so you get the benefit of someone tailoring results to fit your needs AND any information they can give as well.

Pretend for a moment that you're interested in belly dancing (because this is one of my keywords). You know a little about it, maybe, but you'd really like to find a reputable instructor in your area and see what the fuss is for yourself. You can put [bellydance instructor new york] into Google and get a load of results, but how do you know who is reputable and who is just going to conduct a pole-dancing class? And are those really all the classes available? Does it hurt? Is it slutty?

Connect to a Guide, and you can ask a belly dancer. (We get searches sent to us based on our chosen keywords.) Your Guide can choose results for you to match your needs, tell you what to look for in a beginner class, explain that more classes can be found by searching on [middle eastern dance] and [oriental dance], and tell you that no, it really isn't a slutty dance and it really does strengthen your core muscles and whip you into shape and yes, your muscles will be sore for a little bit, but it's not terrible. What might have taken you all day sifting through results on your own will take about 20 minutes with a Guide, and usually less.

I don't expect Social Search to replace (or even really compete with) traditional search. They address different audiences. Searching on your own is great if you already know how to separate the dross from the good stuff, but if you need someone to hold your hand a little or answer some questions about the information, a Guide is a good way to go.

Ryan [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

I understand that value can be offered in searching with a guide, but the site offers guided and unguided search.

The unguided search is plain old spam by the Google Guideline definition. It offers no user benefit above or beyond the open directory project. In fact, it actually offers less benefit because it blends ads into the ODP data. Strictly defined, it's spam.

As far as the guided search goes, I think this is a neat idea doomed to failure. It's along the same as psychiatry vs psychology. Guided search (as well as psychiatry) only treat the symptoms, not the cause.

The problem it tries to solve is that users can't find what they're looking for on search engines.

The solution isn't to do it for them, it's to make the search engines easier and more intuitive to use.

Give a user a fish, he'll eat for a day... make a search engine that allows the user to find a fish market in his neighborhood when he just searches for "fish", and he surely won't starve.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

How does a person become a guide ?

Missy [PersonRank 4]

16 years ago #

I agree that the unguided search is spam by pretty much anyone's definition. I'm not sure why ChaCha chose to offer unguided search (except to show ads, because that's how the site is supported?), but then, neither am I sure why anyone would choose unguided search at a Social Search site.

"The solution isn't to do it for them, it's to make the search engines easier and more intuitive to use."

I agree with this as well. However, practical experience tells me that this isn't happening any time soon. I think the biggest roadblock to this is the sheer volume of spam extant and the speed with which it hits the 'net. For every one spam site that gets blown out of the index, ten more show up, because any idiot can slap together a page full of affiliate links and toss it out there. (And from what I've seen, Any Idiot does it multiple times and gets Any Moron to help!)

This is where guided search can help. A Guide can explain to users how they found the results that they did and teach them to search effectively on their own. In principle, anyway. I expect that some Guides would be concerned with putting themselves out of a job, but I personally tell my users how I found what they wanted. It's a habit I picked up at Google Answers, and one that has served me in good stead for Answers, private clients, and now this.

Missy [PersonRank 4]

16 years ago #


You have to be invited by an existing Guide.

I didn't know any Guides myself, so I Googled around until I found someone giving invitations away. It seems I made it just under the wire, because as of Sunday, no new Guides may be invited.

They've promised to open invitations again, soon, though. I expect they'll want to wait until some of the more annoying bugs are stomped out.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

yeah, Missy.. no new invites for guides.. and I was wondering the same thing --how did you get in!! :)-

hahahah.. i like your expression "I Googled around until I found someone giving invitations away"

Scott [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

Searching without a guide will be MUCH better in about 2 weeks. We're still operating in experimental mode so lots of (hopefully favorable) changes almost every day.


Gary Price [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

I will remind the list that if you;'re looking for answers from professional researchers FOR FREE 24x7x365 most libraries around the globe offer these services.

These are professionally trained people who can not only share with you open web resources but also guide you to databases not available on the open web for free that you have access to via your local library. For example:

Enquire (UK Based)


AskNow Australia

The Library of Congress

The list goes on and on.

For subject specific topic search lots of services have been online for years with not only people to contact but databases of asked and answered questions.
like Ask a Geologist
Art History

More here:

Also, many libraries offer homework help for students. For example:

Scott [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

(Disclaimer: I'm not the same Scott as Scott Jones, who apparently posted an earlier comment. I did, however, apply to be a guide at ChaCha today ....)

Gary makes a good point about library websites. (Disclaimer #2: I am a librarian, and have a professional interest in reminding people about the existence of libraries.) However, I doubt that mass quantities of people will seek out any given library site.

People will, however, flock to a site with great buzz, and will return if the site is useful and enjoyable. MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers – and perhaps now ChaCha – are recent examples.

Maybe what we need is an ultracool library website that web surfers don't even think of as a particular library's site.

Missy [PersonRank 4]

16 years ago #


ChaCha users are not charged for the service. All they have to do is show up and ask for help. That's it.

Though I think it's nice when users tell me their names.

Gary Price [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

As someone who has done lots of talking to the press, the resons people don't use them and their services is due to the fact that people don't know about them. How can people use what they don't know about. Look at craigslist, ultracool but sure plain looking, yet great info. How can people use what they don't know about?

Also, as a librarian what about the quality of the info you find? Doesn't that matter? Would you want to give your boss some numbers given to you on a site when more recent numbers are available for free from a library database? So, for the most part if the statistic, quote, etc can't be found on the open web, it can't be used?

If I'm doing research and want to see the ads (say I'm studying fashion) from the NY Times from May, 1963 I could go by them from NY but many libraries offer the service for free. We just (as librarians don't tell people about it).

The same is also true with people or business research. Let's say I want a company history of Coca-Cola, Business Industry Center offers it for free, from an authoritative source.

Or what about a reference book. I'm studying F. Scott Fitzgerald. What about a database (Free) like ebrary that offer FREE full text access to the entire volume of the F. Scott Fitzgerald encyclopedia?

To Missy, I never said anything about ChaCha users being charged for virtual reference services.

And finally, what about what I said about using the web to go to an expert as in the AskA+ Locator databases?

As I said in my original ResourceShelf post about ChaCha weeks ago, it has every right to exist. However, the sad part is that people don't know what else they can access and access from experts. If I had a geology question I sure would like to talk to someone from the USGS or chat with a science librarian in real time from the Library of Congress.

Sandra D. [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #


I am currently a Guide at ChaCha.

I love it!

I love helping people get the what they are looking for.

If anyone needs an Official Invitation they can email me at:

   wahparenting[put at-character here]


Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

What do you think ChaCha's business model is, if users are not charged for guided search, but guides are paid?

Perhaps the plan is to build traffic, then start guiding people towards "sponsored promotions" or somesuch?

Jared Johnson [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

As a ChaCha guide, and a avid internet user, the plan of chacha is to basically put adsense into each search the the searcher is looking for. Plus each time a guide gives a link to the searcher they have to click on that link through the ChaCha app. So at a minimum there is two clicks per link per search, but typically three sites are linked to the guide. Quite alot of good advertising specifically given based on the users preference. What better way to sell product for a company. Give a good site to an interested user. Seems like the middleman finally gets a piece of the pie.

Thats how I see it at least.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

The middleman only gets a piece of the pie (for links provided by the ChaCha guide) if they are sponsored links. That's why I think this must be the plan.

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