Wednesday, March 03, 2004 :::
Defining the Landscape of Wondir Land
Wondir gets its first critique from the blog community here. Several good points are brought up.
First, there is indeed nothing new essentially about posting questions and posting answers to them. It's the format that's new. I agree that on the surface Wondir does appear to be similar to a user group, mailing list or message board, not to mention expert sites like AllExperts, PointAsk, AskAnExpert and so on. The difference lies in the ease of use and the timeliness of interaction, and it's a substantial difference. For example, one doesn't need to join any group to use Wondir, anymore than one needs to join a group to use Google. One simply types a question in the search box and it appears on the instant message board for anyone to respond to right then and there. And the responders need not join a group either. The questions are posted instantly, the answers are as well and the responders are quick, usually getting an answer on the board often within a minute or less (far more timely than standard message boards), so that one gets one's answers at Wondir from real people almost as fast as one gets website results at Google. If one chooses the IM-option, the answer can be instant and interactive. If timeliness and ease of use doesn't seem like a big deal, imagine running a search on Google and getting the message "you'll need to provide us with a user name and email address, then your search results will be emailed to you shortly."
The second critique essentially revolves around whether you can trust Wondir answers. That's a good point-- you don't know these people, and they don't know you. However, Wondir is really offering itself as an alternative to search engines, which is the first place most people go for quick information, and entrusting one's search/question to an automated system involving no human involvement that simplays displays web pages according to a algorithm would seem equally, if not more, suspect with regard to trust than a human-interaction q&a forum. Also, it's pretty clear using Wondir whether the responder is someone making sense or talking nonsense, someone who wants to help or someone who's pulling your leg, as with any interaction in the world. Most of the responders are there because they like to look for incoming questions in real-time that they have an answer to. It gives them a sense of worth and has a high fun factor, not unlike the general or category-specific trivial pursuit craze.
::: posted by Allen Searls at 1:38 PM