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Will Amazon Make A Splash In The Question and Answer Market?

If you’ve visited the online retailer Amazon (they’ve gone way beyond books and CDs and DVDs for quite some time), you’d notice their foray into a new area with their “Askville” site.

askville amazon

Askville is a site where users can ask questions and get answers.

It’s a little different from similar sites out there with a “ranking” (level?) system for users, and there’s an opportunity to earn “gold”. Additionally there’s shopping engine features built in with product recommendation.

Do contributors earn commissions or “gold” if readers buy the recommended product?

I’ll need to delve deeper into the site to get the answers.

But since late last year, internet users have been asking, “Is Amazon’s Askville just another Yahoo! Answers”?

yahoo answers

Yahoo! Answers is also a community centered around user generated questions and answers, and participants get to vote for the best answer. Being an earlier product, it doesn’t appear that Yahoo is geared towards promoting products, or generating commissions.

They have a comprehensive and somewhat complex Points System.

Although I think the rationale behind needing points to ask a question, and then answering questions to earning points to ask more questions can become a little self-serving, even though it has the motive of creating a type of points-based information economy.

Yahoo! Answers is perhaps best known for the fact that Dr Stephen Hawking (author of “A Brief History of Time”) posted his question “How Can The Human Race Survive The Next Hundred Years?”

yahoo answers stephen hawking

The question has since evolved into having it’s own Yahoo! group as well as Yahoo! Answers admin verifying the identity of Dr Hawking.

I guess it’s easy to forget that search engines are perhaps the ultimate “Question and Answer” databases. You enter your question into the query field and get back relevant results.

It does help to have a more human friendly interface like Microsoft Live’s Ms Dewey website:

ms dewey

MsDewey is a smart alecky, flash-based search engine, developed by Microsoft.

It features an animated avatar “Ms Dewey” (played by Indian-Dutch actress Javina Gavankar)

I believe it’s intended more as a technology showcase, or a viral marketing device, more than a serious search engine contender.

BUT,  unless you’ve been in the industry for some time, you might not recall the AskJeeves search engine, where you were “served” by a butler named “Jeeves” (named after a character in P.G. Wodehouse’s novels).

It’s now become Ask.com:

ask.com

Which has seen the butler Jeeves dropped from it.

In case you missed it, here’s another look at Jeeves:

ask jeeves

Industry observers might be wondering if Amazon’s Askville will have much of an impact in the question and answer market.

Although that’s an important question, I think affiliate marketers will be more concerned about how exactly to monetize effectively off these services.

Yes, you’ve seen instances of affiliate link dropping on these services, but I think that approach goes completely against the “user contributed content” and community nature of these sites.

My team and I have been developing a number of interesting strategies which might help you boost your earnings and we’ll be covering that in a future post.

Stay tuned.

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