Search Tool for Getting Expert Answers — Live

Speaking of ask-an-expert services …. there’s a new search tool that connects your question with experts who are ready to answer it. It’s set up by a search engine but I’m not going to call it that because it doesn’t search indexed data. It alerts brains.

The site is called Jyve and it’s available at . I am somewhat disconcerted because I always thought “jive” was a slang term for talking in a non-meaningful manner. Anyway, the theory behind Jyve is that you enter your question and a network of experts pops up in an instant-message format and gives you an answer. If you think you got a particularly great answer, you can give the answerer a tip via Jyve’s tip jar. There’s also a directory of experts available so you can work with them directly.

With an expert service, the first thing I want to see is the archives, so I can get an idea of how questions were answered. Jyve has an archive, but it’s a little buried (click browse, and then click Questions under the browse navigation.) There’s also a selection of “live” questions under the Answer tab on the front page.

I browsed a few of these. The questions range from general reference (who won best picture last year?), to technical (Why does my optical mouse randomly move to one side of the screen?), and some which would be good for hours of philosophical debating (where do souls go).

Clicking on a question takes you to a instant-message type page, where you’ll see an archive of the question and its answers. Sometimes there are many answers, sometimes only a few, or none. If it’s a regular reference-type question it seems that the question gets answered immediately, and the rest of the conversation is on the theme of “Hey, are you there? Is that the answer you needed?” etc.

I don’t know how I feel about this. On one hand it’s great to be able to immediately ask a group of folks a question. On the other hand, I missed the measured, long conversations that you’d see on a site like Google Answers, where there was not so much immediacy required. Asking the question in an IM format seems to preclude a long, intense discussion.

You know what I’d like to see? Every question gets its own page on . Then if you wanted to go back afterwards and add additional information, discuss aspects of the question, etc., you could.

I decided to ask a question, so started out with “Why is the sky blue?” I was taken back to the IM interface screen, where there were apparently about a dozen question-answerers on deck. I worked on this writeup for a while. I came back. I had gotten no answer. So while you can get an immediate response, don’t count on the fact that you will get an immediate response.

In addition to the question asking and archive, Jyve also has some tools for question-answerers and information on how to become an answerer yourself. I can see where a service like this can come in handy, but I can also see where it would make me miss a slower, more discussion-oriented format.

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