September 3, 2006 9:01 PM PDT
Start-up pays people to answer questions online
ChaCha.com will pay "guides" up to $10 per hour spent searching for Web sites that contain answers to user questions. Guides invite other guides to the site and can then earn 10 percent of what the invited guides earn, said Brad Bostic, ChaCha.com president and co-founder.
There are four levels of guides: apprentice, pro, master and elite. They will be able to earn reputations based on user ratings and how the system rates their performance, Bostic said.
The Web site also indexes the responses to questions and makes them available if they are pertinent to future queries.
When a user asks a question, a guide will respond in a live chat window, providing a link that will contain the answer to the user's question, as well as a snippet from the Web page referenced.
The free site has about 2,500 guides, Bostic said. Targeted ads appear next to results.
Social search sites have been cropping up as an alternative to algorithmic-based search engines that provide results of links based on keywords. Experts say that while traditional Web search is best for providing answers to factual questions, people can often get better answers to subjective questions.
Rather than a user asking a question and getting answers from any random person in the community, which happens at Yahoo Answers, only one person answers a question on ChaCha.com. Another service, Google Answers, pays "researchers" 75 percent of the amount a user agrees to pay to get a question answered.
Paying the answerers ensures better-quality results than other question-and-answer sites, Bostic said.
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