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Monday, August 09, 2004 :::

There are expert sites, and then there's Wondir

This comes up so often that I thought I'd blog about it. Got an email from JD Lasica, who passed a compliment on to my father (Doc), calling him "a true rock star of the tech world." That's great, I'll pass it on to him. JD also asked me to compare and contrast expert sites, such as Abuzz or Google Answers, with Wondir.

I wrote a bunch about this a while back, but will summarize here:

Wondir has at least four layers of uniquess that distinguish it from standard expert-sites, all of which I think are providing a great service, but none of which have all four of these components:

  1. Wondir is free.
  2. Wondir is live. You can ask and answer in real-time, using the on-site Jabber chat (it engages automatically when you ask or answer, you don't have to download it.)
  3. Wondir is for everyone. Anyone can ask, and anyone can answer. You don't have to register to do either, although you can. And if you're answering, we let the other party decide whether or not you're an expert.
  4. Wondir is a cinch to use. You just ask your question in a big box on our front page and seconds later you're chatting with someone with an answer (or getting an answer soon thereafter if no one's around w/ your answer). It's as quick, anonymous and easy to use as a standard search engine, except there are live people on the other end. Answering is just as easy. You just click on a question and answer it by chat, post or even email, whichever you wish.

Contrast this with Google Answers, one example of the standard expert site model:

  • Non-live, primarily email based interaction.
  • Members only.
  • Pay per answer (although Abuzz and others don't require this)
  • Elaborate asking and answering process.

I think this is one reason why Wondir, although just getting started and with an infinitesimal fraction of the resources of a Google, already has several times more questions and answers per day than Google Answers, and more than any of the free sites as well, including AllExperts, Abuzz, Answerway and so on. We see Live Q&A as part of the simple day-to-day functionality of the web, like using a search engine or a browser, rather than an elaborate members-only service. Of course, being a free-for-all medium means Wondir has to deal with all kinds of silliness in the mix, but so do search engines, so does email, so does anything that goes for ubiquity.

*JD mentioned that weblogs have in some ways replaced standard expert sites. I agree. Wondir may also make each question and answer, like blog posts, available via an RSS feed in the future.

::: posted by Allen Searls at 5:32 PM

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