After four months of private beta, Windows Live QnA (Question and Answer) opens to the public today. There is no shortage of question and answer services online, it’s almost becoming a requirement for portals. If the number of users is important in such a service, though, then the Live offering may be particularly appealing as it ramps up.
The service is a whole lot like the popular Yahoo! Answers, which is growing as much as 35% per month. The primary differences being that Live QnA uses tags instead of categories and offers more sophisticated alerts via MSN Alerts. Tags will make the site much easier to explore by clicking through other peoples’ terms of categorization instead of a stab in the dark full text query for terms similar to your own. The service is only available in English so far, but the Live team says to be patient – more languages are on the way.
Yahoo! Answers offers a watchlist on your dashboard page, which is convenient. It also launched an API two weeks ago today, so developers may come up with some interesting uses of the data. Yahoo! Answers has also got a very loyal user base already. Note also our coverage of an Israeli startup in this space, Yedda, which launched earlier this month.
Live QnA isn’t listed on the front page of the Live.com site yet so if you want to see it you have to go directly to its page, qna.live.com. There are many startups in this space, some with innovative models like compensation for answers. Until one of those models better proves itself, it makes sense for Live.com to offer a straight forward QnA service with the addition of tags.