Today I received an invite to join a new community at Amazon called Askville:
As a valued Amazon customer, you’ve been specially picked to get an early look at a new website called Askville where you can ask any question on any topic and get real answers from real people. It’s new, and best of all, it’s free!
This site will compete with Yahoo! Answers and Microsoft Q&A in the free question-answering space except that it might be able to leverage the Amazon community of experts. For those that have not been following this area, these systems enable knowledge creation by allowing users ask questions that are then answered by other users in exchange for reputation within the system. The first success in this space was a startup in Korea named Naver that took control of the search market share in a very short period of time.
Amazon’s system is similar to all of its American counterparts, with its large fonts and friendly messaging (“ask.. answer.. meet.. play”), except for a few subtle distinctions:
- Users are rewarded for asking questions as well as answering them
- Questions are limited to 5 answers total
- Best answers are chosen by the group of question asker and answerers, where the asker gets one more vote than the answerers
Probably the most significant change is the flow of the question/answering exchange. In Yahoo! Answers, and elsewhere, answers are shown publicly as they are received; in Askville, answers are hidden to the public until 5 answers have been received. Any discussion or clarification can happen in a public message board attached to the question. After 5 answers have been collected, the group of asker and answerers vote and the whole thing is made public.
Askville rewards users with “coins,” a virtual currency that will be redeemable in another community named Questville slated for release in early 2007.
The system has given me 25 invitations for other accounts. If you’re interested in trying out the system, shoot me an email.
Update: I apologize, but all of my invitations have been distributed! It seems like the invitations are spreading though, so look for one on a weblog near you…