Google Closes Down 'Answers' Service
Later this week, Google will stop accepting new questions on its Answers service, one of many search-related products the company has rolled out over the years. Google says that part of being an innovator means "reconsidering our goals."
Google Answers provided a way for users to pose questions and set a price for how much the answer would be worth to them. Others from around the world could then answer the question, and receive payment, with Google taking 50 cents as a listing fee.
The search giant says over 800 individuals participated in the service, but it's audience was quite niche and Google Answers failed to achieve mainstream adoption in the more-than four years it has been around.
"The project started with a rough idea from Larry Page, and a small 4-person team turned it into reality in less than 4 months," Google developers Andrew Fikes and Lexi Baugher wrote on the company's blog. "For two new grads, it was a crash course in building a scalable product, responding to customer requests, and discovering what questions are on people's minds."
Despite its moderate success, Google Answers did catch the eye of the company's competitors. Yahoo launched its own Q and A service last year, which has proven to be quite popular. Yahoo took a different approach, however, dropping the fees and relying on users to answer questions out of goodwill, much like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
In September, Microsoft took the wraps off Windows Live QnA, a service similar to Yahoo's that utilizes a reputation based system. Users vote for the best answers and after four days, the question and answer get locked down for future reference.
Although it ceasing to accept new questions this week and will stop accepting new answers by the end of the year, Google says it will leave existing Q and A's available for perusal.
"Google Answers was a great experiment which provided us with a lot of material for developing future products to serve our users. We'll continue to look for new ways to improve the search experience and to connect people to the information they want," added Fikes and Baugher.