24.com launches impressive crowd-sourcing tool in Answerit

Just got a press release today about 24.com’s new answerit service. It’s based on a similar Yahoo! service, which apparently has done pretty well. 24.com are one of the few players in the country who can launch a service like this, because it requires volume. Last time I checked, they have the volume, or more than 3,000,000 unique browsers.

At the heart of the site is an innovative points system which regulates users’ answers and ensures only the good stuff stays at the top — it’s a fairly complex crowd-sourcing excercise and, I have to say, is very well conceived. If I were them, I’d also get the universities and schools involved, students and academics.

Here’s the release:

Think you have all the answers? Got a smart question? It’s time to share and expand your knowledge on Answerit, a new site on the 24.com network.

Be a part of South Africa’s Internet-based community of collective intelligence. As a social media tool, Answerit is a new online public forum that allows users to ask questions among a range of more than 20 categories and get answers from real people. From sport to science, politics to pets and computers to cars, users can browse and contribute to the site.

Over the past two years, U.S. visits to Question and Answer (Q&A) websites have increased 889 percent, according to Hitwise, the world’s leading online competitive intelligence service. The top two Q&A websites are Yahoo! Answers and Wiki.Answers.com, which between them receive more than 91 percent of the market share of U.S. visits.

“Online users are increasingly seeking advice from question and answer websites that leverage shared knowledge contributed across a community of experts and enthusiasts,” says Heather Dougherty, research director, Hitwise. “The popularity of user generated media has helped to establish a category for social knowledge where consumers can obtain answers from a single aggregated source developed through others asking similar questions.”

According to Elan Lohmann, General Manager of Social Networking and Media at 24.com: “One of the core principles of the World Wide Web is that we live in a shared world where shared knowledge is valuable. Answerit is an online tool for South Africans to interact and share knowledge that is particularly relevant to their local experience.”

How Answerit works

Questions go through various stages as they are asked, answered and resolved. To keep the new questions fresh and interesting, there is a limited time period for a question to stay open in the system. Once a question is resolved it forms a permanent part of the Answerit knowledge base where it can be searched, added to people’s favourites and shared with others via email.

By asking and answering questions, users can accumulate points and build a reputation as a guru in a certain topic or simply climb the leaders’ ladder by providing the best answers to various questions. Users can browse the site without signing in, but to participate (ask, answer, vote) one must sign in as a member of 24.com. Points may be earned by Joining Answerit (it’s free), Logging in and answering questions, Selecting a Best Answer for your own questions, Voting for the Best Answer to other people’s questions,Winning a Best Answer, getting a ‘Thumbs Up’ and introducing a new member. You can also lose points if you have a question or answer deleted due to abuse, or delete your own question or answer…



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