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OPLIN 4Cast #189: Online Q&A

Posted in 4cast

Last updated on October 28, 2014

Q&AYou probably saw last week’s news about Facebook Questions, but you might have missed the news that also decided last week to quit competing with Google as a general search engine and return to its Q&A roots. Sprinkled into these news articles were lots of mentions of other online Q&A sites. Will the library reference desk meet this challenge?

  • Facebook Questions officially launches (Mashable/Ben Parr) “Similar in concept to Yahoo! Answers, Quora and Mahalo, Facebook Questions gives users the opportunity to ask questions just by clicking the ‘Ask Question’ button on the homepage.”
  • Facebook Q&A service could be massive (TechCrunch/Jason Kincaid) “Facebook obviously isn’t going to ask your question to everyone else on Facebook; instead, its system is going to try to analyze a user’s interests to determine who would be best able to answer your question. The service will also show the question to some of your friends, so ideally you’ll receive answers from a healthy mix of friends and experts (we’ll see how well it actually works).”
  • gets back to its roots (ReadWriteWeb/Frederic Lardinois) “ is getting back to its heritage by launching a new question and answer service that mixes results from’s search engine with answers the company found on other Q&A sites and the ability to address questions to the Ask community directly. The end result feels a bit like a mix between Bing, Yahoo Answers, Quora and Aardvark.”
  • The new Q&A businesses (Wall Street Journal, June 22) “Their efforts illustrate the continual evolution of Web search, which is constantly adapting to new content. Once capable of spitting out links to websites, search engines now directly yield results like photos and videos and maps. Yet even search leaders like Google acknowledge Web search falls far short of its goal of delivering any answer to any question.”

Ironic Fact:
The Quora online Q&A service was started by a group of early Facebook employees, including Facebook’s first CTO.