Google Questions and Answers (Вопросы и ответы in Russian) allows users to ask a “difficult question that is interesting” and receive an answer from other users. Users earn points based on the quality of answers given and can gradually become an expert in a particular field. According to Alex Moskalyuk every new user starts off with 100 points, and can spend those points asking a question. The cost of the question can be 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 or 100 points. Logging in daily earns a user 5 points, every answer to a question is worth 2 points, and rating a specific answer if worth 1 point. The best answer gets all the points paid by the user who asked that question, providing motivation for answering higher-priced questions first. Whether these points can be purchased or redeemed for cash or something else of value was not clear from the translated version of the site or the post announcing the service on Google’s Russia Blog.
The Google Russian team notes that they are particularly pleased to announce that Russia is the first country “where we are launching this service”, a sure sign that Google is planning on rolling out the new Google Answers to other countries, possibly worldwide in the future.
Google Answers was an innovator in the online Q&A market and yet its model of paid experts answering questions failed dismally against free and open competitors including Answers.com and Yahoo Answers. The new Google Answers will still face that same competition today. Google must have something planned for the service to help it compete this time around; it’s not clear from the Russian version what secret recipe Google has planned but it surely wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. Yahoo has nothing to fear quite yet, but it does look like the Q&A space may well get interesting again in the near future.