April 19, 2018

Google Answers Calls It Quits

By LJ Staff

Not every idea from Google is destined to be a blockbuster, and Google Answers, a pay-reference service started more than four years ago, will suspend operations, accepting no new questions after the first of the year. More than 800 pre-screened researchers participated in Google Answers, and users would state how much they were willing to pay for an answer. Meanwhile, the free Yahoo Answers continues to thrive, recently providing Oprah Winfrey with the opportunity to ask "Answerers to share how they would help out a perfect stranger if given the opportunity." On the Google blog, two engineers didn’t provide a specific reason closing the Google Answers shop, but wrote, "Google Answers was a great experiment which provided us with a lot of material for developing future products to serve our users."

Bloggers speculated on Google’s motives. One suggested that either Yahoo Answers had proven dominant, or Google plans to revise and reintroduce a reference service. Another blamed Wikipedia. The library-oriented ResourceShelf suggested there was an opportunity for libraries: "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."