Q&A has been in the news a lot recently (see below), so much so that one has to wonder: Is there a Q&A bubble? How many Q&A sites can there be?
The truth is that Q&A is, and always has been, one of the primary forms of communication on the web. It’s just that Q&A has been buried in forums. I often refer to forums as “the dark matter of the Internet” because they contain so much valuable information that is buried in so much junk that it is endlessly frustrating trying to find that diamond in the rough, even when you’re sure it’s there.
What is just starting to happen is that this great content is at last coming to light in Q&A sites. Q&A sites have great SEO and thus are very discoverable but most importantly they are structured such that you are actually taken to the answer(s) you are looking for. Q&A products remove the “soapbox” so that unsolicited opinions and random drivel are not part of the dialog.
All the content from structured Q&A sites combined is still a mere speck in comparison to the content buried in forums. We haven’t even begun to see the true explosion of Q&A. As the content of forums comes out of the dark Q&A will become an essential component of any site that wants to foster community. While the attention is largely going to the “massive Q&A sites” for now, we will soon see that the best Q&A sites are those that exist within the context of a given community rather than trying to cater to the Internet as if it were an audience.
So Q&A is not a bubble, it is just emerging from the dark.
As always, if you want Q&A for your site go to YouSaidIt.
Q&A Sites in The News
- Quora is in private beta (founded by ex-CTO of Facebook)
- Aardvark is the Twitter-like Q&A
- StackExchange allows people to create their own StackOverflow style of Q&A
- WikiAnswers is nicely profitable based on it’s multi-million uniques
- Hunch allows users to create decision-trees to help people arrive at answers