Tuesday, 28th November 2006
Google Saying Goodbye to Google Answers
Google Says Goodbye to Google Answers
Danny Sullivan reports that after more than four years Google Answers is shutting down. The service first launched in April 2002 with lots of attention from the library and information community. Since then both Yahoo (Yahoo Answers) and MSN (Windows Live QnA) have released Q&A services
Danny's post has info on the success of Yahoo's Q&A product in terms of traffic and participation. We'll save the discussions about these services and traditional information quality metrics for some queries for another time.
Btw, Google's shutdown is not the first time a major search player has shutdown a Q&A service. From early 2000 through May 2002 Ask Jeeves offered a human powered Q&A service called Answer Point. This SEW Blog post from about a year ago offers a look at that service.
Don't Forget What Libraries Offer For Free via the Web
While all of this has been going it has been disappointing to see little attention paid to virtual reference services offered by the library community, many of which are available 24x7x365 from any computer connected to the Internet. Perhaps organizations like OCLC (the provider of QuestionPoint) and other services from around the globe can use this closure to bring more attention to their services as another option for the end user. Not THE solution but as part of the mix. We will have to wait and see but let's hope so.
This ResourceShelf post has more about the FREE Q & A services (virtual reference) services offered by the library community.
As Danny points out in his post, other Google products have gone away but perhaps might return one day. One service ResourceShelf believes is ripe for a return run in one form or another is Google Voice Search*, which has had a "come back later" note on its page for a couple of years. The coming and going of various services also plays to comments made by
Google VP Marissa Mayer in BusinessWeek from the July 10, 2006 issue.
From the story:
Marissa Mayer, estimated that up to 60% to 80% of Google’s products may eventually crash and burn.
“We anticipate that we’re going to throw out a lot of products,” says Mayer. “But [people] will remember the ones that really matter and the ones that have a lot of user potential.”
For info pros, Mayer's words should remind us of what we have known for a long time. That it's important to know about a variety of services/books/etc. from variety of providers/sources. This is good for the info pro and more importantly for the end user. Similar words about search not being a zero sum game have been spoken by Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
See Also: An Intro to Virtual Reference/Q&A Services for Non-Librarians
* Want to Try a Voice-Activated Info Tool? Tellme.com continues online and on the telephone. It's been around for many years. Dial 1-800-555-Tell. Call is free but make be aware of any long distance charges that your phone provider might charge.