Amazon Askville Launches With Dungeons & Dragons Angle

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Want to become a Level 10 Blogging Advice expert? Then earn some Quest Coins and spend them on cool stuff at Amazon? Check out Amazon’s newest service, Askville.

The site launched moments ago at 2 pm PST. This is a “questions & answer” site similar to Yahoo, Yedda, AnswerBag, the recently departed Google Answers and even the rarely mentioned Microsoft QnA.

So what makes Askville different? A few things.

Until a questioned is “closed,” the answers cannot be viewed. So each answer will be a unique response. This prevents cheating (copying/editing other people’s answers and submitting it as their own) and also gives each answerer credit if they submit the right answer, whether they were the first, second, or third person to submit the same answer.

Amazon is also guaranteeing that every legitimate question will be answered – they are using their Mechanical Turk web service and will pay people to answer questions if no other users choose to respond.

Finally, they have a unique scoring system. Questions are tagged, and responders earn experience points for answering based on the quality of the answer (experience points can also be lost for lame or incorrect answers). As responders gain experience points for given tags, they level up for those tags. For an example, see the user who is noted as “Level 1 – Fantasy” for this question.

Experience points also translate into something more tangible – a virtual currency called Quest Coins:

Virtual Currency (Quest Coins) – Askville also has a separate virtual currency called Quest coins which users will earn for various actions, including asking a question, voting on answers, providing answers, etc… We’ve kept experience points separate from Quest coins in order to keep experience points tied directly to how well you answer questions in various topics, while Quest coins will be a currency that will be earned (or lost) through various different actions each user makes throughout Askville. Eventually, users will be able to use their Quest coins on an upcoming site called On Questville, users will be able to participate in contests, exchange coins with fellow users, earn additional coins, and redeem them for other prizes/rewards. is scheduled to launch in 2007.

You can’t do anything with Quest Coins yet – the Questville site is just a landing page right now. But given that users will be able to buy stuff with these coins, it will clearly encourage active and intelligent participation on the Askville site. Amazon is leveraging it’s ability to send people actual stuff in a very smart way.

Yahoo could have some competition.

The Askville blog is here.

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