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Google Answers Shuts Down  (View post)

Mathias Schindler [PersonRank 10]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
12 years ago9,553 views

Wow. This is amazing. One of the 10 core ideas that Marissa Meyer once presented was "never kill a project, morphe it".

Mathias Schindler [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Found it:

google.com/search?num=100& ...

edcorner.stanford.edu/authorMa ...

innovationtools.com/Weblog/inn ...

etc...

easterangel [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I hope one visionary entrepreneur can take up the cudgels and take the spot of Google Answers in the market.

AN [PersonRank 3]

12 years ago #

Maybe it's morphed after the shutdown. We don't really know the reasons yet, do we? On the other hand, this project isn't really one which can be ripped apart and integrated elsewhere, after all, it's just a glorified Web forum.

Pramit Singh [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Did you know only 800 people answered queries on Google Answers? I have written about it and the implications on my Mediavidea blog.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Those 500 (as it was in the beginning) were often expert researchers or experts in some fields – they all passed some initial test before being allowed into the program, and Google closed down for new applicants once the 500 researchers had been chosen. So you can't really compare it to other Q&A community numbers, like the many thousands of participants of Yahoo Answers (Google also had many thousands of people answering in comments, which were open to everyone). What you may argue, of course, is that a "paid expert" approach is doomed to fail for this or that reason (no long tail of expertise?), I don't know about that... it is/ was certainly a different concept than what Yahoo's doing.

Missy [PersonRank 4]

12 years ago #

Well, my Colleague Dear, we had a pretty good run, didn't we?

I found out through the forum, which I always read BEFORE I read e-mail. Not the greatest news before morning coffee...but probably not horribly surprising, either, given the obvious lack of give-a-damn from "The Google Answers Team".

Still...we kicked ass while we existed. Can't really ask for more than that.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Whilst I've never used it, this is a true shame. With more exposure and a larger team of experts, Google could have made this work.

Services like Yahoo! Answers are fun but not really reliable. Apart from all the time-waster questions on there, I've seen several "chosen" answers that were completely inaccurate. I guess that's fair enough though as the service isn't called "Yahoo! Correct Answers" so anyone can answer whatever they like.

I guess the best things in life aren't always free...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Google Answers also had quite a few actual "mundane work" questions, like where you'd collect 200 radio stations from the Middle East, or be translating a larger piece from one language into another, or research shampoo ingredients, and so on. I doubt these "non fun" jobs – well, they are fun if you take pride in your job, but it's not traditional fun – will ever exist on free Q&A sites.

Hmmm. Scratch that theory...I just saw someone gave a full translation for free!

answers.google.com/answers/thr ...

Yaniv Golan [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Yup, it was a noble experiment, and it is sad to see it shutting down. I've used it and enjoyed the quality of answers I received through it.

I would like to invite the wonderful GAR team to share their knowledge on Yedda (yedda.com).

While the Yedda model is different from the Google Answers one (e.g. no money exchanges hands), it does provide a very productive model for answerers – instead of hunting down the questions you'd like to answer, you define your topics of interest and knowledge, how many questions you'd like to answer and how often, and that's about it – selected questions will be delivered to you through RSS, email or IM.

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, you're right about needing a service like this for tasks that people wouldn't normally do for free. I've found that Amazon's Mechanical turk (mturk.com) is similar, except it doesn't have experts. Instead, anyone can answer, but the person asking a question can decline the answer (and payment for the answer).

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"Never kill a project, morph it"

This makes me think about an earlier post here:
"Google's Internal Company Goals"
blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-1 ...
which says there was mention of a Chinese “Knowledge Search Beta.”

Peter Crowe explained (in the comments to that post) that "Knowledge Search" is a term used in Asia for projects like Yahoo Answers.

Hmm.

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

In the beginning, there were two competing encyclopedia models on the Internet – Wikipedia and Nupedia. Wikipedia let anyone contribute their expertise, or willingness to research. Nupedia required experts. Nupedia died out – we all know why (or you can read about it [1].)

Even though Google was first on scene by several years with Google Answers, Yahoo Answers is the clear winner. Why is that? Google Answers required paid experts, and Yahoo Answers let anyone contribute their expertise, or willingness to research.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." – George Santayana

While the history of the Internet may be short, Santayana's lesson still applies!

[1] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nupedia

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Yes, Roger. I'm sure we'll see answers-beta.google.com soon. Maybe the JotSpot deal will have something to do with that.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

maybe Yahoo! answers can give some cluepoints :)-

answers.yahoo.com/question/ind ...

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I just picked up on this beta

translatorscafe.com

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> Even though Google was first on scene by several years
> with Google Answers, Yahoo Answers is the clear winner.
> Why is that? Google Answers required paid experts,
> and Yahoo Answers let anyone contribute their
> expertise, or willingness to research.

Brian, Google Answers had never been given a real chance, so it wasn't a good test-case in my book – Google never heavily pushed their service, quite the opposite, they started removing all kinds of links to it during the past. Yahoo is doing the right thing in marketing their site, by e.g. bringing celebrities on the site, linking to it right from normal search results (not just the "nothing found" type of result, though Google Answers wasn't even in those anymore lately). Yahoo *plasters* German billboards with ads for Yahoo Answers. Yahoo links to Yahoo Answers *right below the search box* on their homepage at the moment.


blogoscoped.com/files/yahoo-an ...



Again, I'm not saying Google Answers is a model to succeed – I'm saying it wasn't a good *test-case* if you want to have proof that it's not. You may find that Google Answers isn't scalable once there's a huge customer run on the service – I don't know. I do know that we *never* had enough questions, and we were basically (amicably) fighting to answer good questions at reasonable prices in 2003. (That is, if you didn't watch the site 24 hours, all questions that seemed to be worthwhile working on were surely locked, so you wouldn't even get a chance researching them.) This experiment ended without having been fully rolled out to "live" levels, it seems, so I'm highly suspicious to draw any kind of conclusive results out of it.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I asked Google why they stopped the service, and they answered this:

<<There were several reasons for discontinuing the service, but mostly Google Answers was an experimental product. As done with all experimental products, Google determines the next step for the product based on user responses. While many people used and valued Google Answers, Google had reached a point with the product to recognize there may be a better way to meet these individuals' needs. As always, we'll keep looking for new and better ways to connect users to the information they are looking for, and we hope that our incredible researchers will think about creating Custom Search Engines to help share their knowledge.>>

I guess that doesn't answer much, really.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Brian, Nupedia didn't pay its experts, so I don't see any analogy there.

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Well that's just a failure to generalize [1]. The analogy is fairly clear, despite particular features not being the same. Your argument is equivalent to "Brian, Nupedia is not named Google Answers, so I don't see any analogy there."

There was a similar "hiring process" in Nupedia and Google Answers, whereby editors had to be approved based on their expertise. Likewise, there is a lack of a hiring process or verification of expertise both in Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers.

Google:define:analogy:
* drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in _some respect_
* an inference that if things agree in _some respects_ they probably agree in others
* a process of reasoning whereby two entities that share some similarities are assumed to share many others.

I agree with Philipp to some extent, in that Google never really gave Google Answers a chance. On the other hand, I think the model is ultimately doomed.

Cheers,
Brian

[1] scholar.google.com/scholar?q=f ...

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

And my hindsight is 10/20 ;)

Sohil [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Ionut, What does Jotspot have to do with Google Answers ?

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Collaboratively answer a question.

Sohil [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Hmm Ok.

elyk [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

I think they may have discontinued it because they found it would be more difficult to scale. To scale most of their products, all they have to do is increase the number of servers allocated. To scale this product, they have to find and approve additional expert researchers, so they may have decided it would be better to close this down now rather than wait until it's a huge service and it would be embarrassing to shut it down. It also doesn't really fit their style. If you look at most of Google's services, they solve problems algorithmically. If a service requires human input, they tend to outsource it to the millions of webmasters out there (like with co-op, base, etc).

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Yahoo's on the line:
ysearchblog.com/archives/00038 ...

Lawrence R [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Wow, and I just used this service for the very first time two days ago.

(Knew about it from pretty much the beginning, just never thought to use it).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Here are the "before" and "after" screenshots that enter the Google Museum*:


blogoscoped.com/files/google-m ...




blogoscoped.com/files/google-m ...



* blogoscoped.com/archive/2005-1 ...

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I still could create an account...

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"Google Answers was my only source of income and very nearly my
only source of human companionship. Because my health is very dodgy, I
cannot work outside my home nor accept jobs with strict deadlines.
Google Answers was my dream job. The dream is over."

answers.google.com/answers/thr ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Here's some more updates on the issue:

A "Save Google Answers" video. Not a message I'd agree with... better to focus on moving on, let Google kill what they want to kill, it's their servers. Still a funny video.

+ Show video



A petition to save Google Answers. Same as above.
petitiononline.com/ganswers/

Asked on Google Answers, Google's Craig Silverstein says "we'll continue to support it." That was a month ago, on October 30th.

+ Show video



A piece attacking Craig:
myeyesonline.blogspot.com/2006 ...

Wouter Schut [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Here is a very interesting article, I found it on a gr_e_a_t site:

blogoscoped.com/archive/2003_0 ...

Wouter Schut [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Some attention might be needed...

digg.com/software/Google_Answe ...

Wouter Schut [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Other interesting post from a Google Answers Researcher (maybe that link should be dugg):

myeyesonline.blogspot.com/2006 ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Wouter, I also posted that myEyesOnline link above :)

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Of course, we are lucky to have Pinkfreud's companionship on the Straight Dope Message Board.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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