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LinkedIn Answers Shuts Down: Are We Over the Q&A Concept?



linkedin-answersLinkedIn notified users this week that they’ll be “retiring” LinkedIn Answers as of January 31.

“We will be focusing our efforts on the development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn. In the meantime, members can still pose questions and facilitate professional discussions through other popular LinkedIn channels including LinkedIn Polls, Groups, or status update.”

I didn’t know LinkedIn had a Q&A site but I’m not a big user of these kinds of sites anyway.

Yahoo Answers and Quora are the current leaders in the field, but you can also have your burning questions answered by Amazon’s Askville, Answers.com, WikiAnswers. . . the list really does go on and on. From the length of the list, it would seem to be a lucrative business but in 2006, Google retired (I love how they say that instead of shut down) Google Answers. Facebook shut down their version, Facebook Questions, before it ever had a chance to catch on. Now LinkedIn is closing up their version.

If I were to query one of these sites, I’d say, “Is the Q&A trend coming to an end?”

What’s always bother me about these sites is that they’re populated with bad answers and misinformation. Anyone can answer a question, even if they’re just making stuff up. Even some of the questions are ridiculous. Huffington Post created a slide show of the some of the worst including “I was bitten by a turtle when I was a lad, can I still drink orange juice?” Huh? A product of a bad computer translation program or maybe someone programmed a computer to create and post random questions MadLib style.

Then there are the marketers. I love you guys, but a few of you have taken the idea of Q&A marketing way too far. If you sell tax software and you respond to a tax question, that’s nice. If you sell tax software and you respond to a question about parenting by saying kids are a great tax deduction, that’s pushing it. There’s a fine line between self-promotion and spam.

The biggest problem I have with these sites is that they’re a confusing mess of random thoughts. If there’s a helpful thread in there, good luck finding it.

There is an upside to Q&A sites. They’re very entertaining. There’s currently a thread on Quora about which store is the best one to hide in during a zombie invasion. Best answer: An online store such as Amazon. Zombies are analog.

Do you use Q&A sites for your own edification or to promote your business and do you think the concept is on the decline?

  • http://twitter.com/BPMredux Theo Priestley

    http://bpmredux.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/will-the-death-of-linkedin-answers-drive-people-to-quora/

    There’s an opportunity for Quora to capitalise on it’s demise. Right now users of the social Q&A platform can connect their LinkedIn profile and post directly from the app, but if Quora and LinkedIn were clever they could find a way to connect voting up answers to endorsements and drive some value from that feature again

  • HiltonB1

    I was a huge fan and active participant on LI’s Q&A. Like many, I considered it a legitimate way to provide insight on subjects I had experience in. Not, like your delightful taxation example above, tenuously associate myself with every question.

    Not surprisingly there were several folks actively gaming the system. LI didn’t help by prominently showing a leader board of these “contributors” which added fuel to that ego-based fire. Where i did believe the system had merit was (supposedly) the impact it had on search results within LI. Answers given “Good” or “Best” would attribute to the person providing that answer and that would impact if someone was searching for area expertise. A legitimate way of giving search currency to those aiding the community.

    Q&A provided a forum to meet new people, contribute selflessly to the community and build your credentials. Those who “gamed” the system sadly, likely had other motivations.

    I’ve no meta-perspective on the demise of the Q&A concept. Personally it provided great value for me as a single proprietorship and I’m saddened to see it go.

  • http://twitter.com/rosiesherry Rosie Sherry

    The problem with LinkedIn is that it is so full of marketing and recruitment spam, they really need to get a handle on this, it’s driving people away. I think they are right to shut it down, it was useful at one point, until the bad and marketing answers came along. I run a LinkedIn group where I have to moderate every single message that comes in. I don’t think that is right. I d think that they are trying to do too much and it is actually doing them harm. The amount of UX and error issues there are is pretty bad.

  • Kent Lewis

    I’m extremely disappointed in LinkedIn’s decision to kill Q&A. So much so, in fact, that I wrote an article on alternative options in light of the closure. I figured readers may find this timely and relevant:

    http://www.business2community.com/linkedin/six-alternatives-to-linkedin-questions-answers-0382711