Is Google Baraza the Answer to all our Questions?
What do you do when you have a question that can’t be answered? Where do you go to find answers to your questions that remain unresolved? For many the first port of call has been online and a Question & Answer service site.
Q&A sites are not new. Ask.com has been around for many years, as has the very popular Yahoo! Answers site. Even local South African online media group 24.com have had their Answer It site running for some time as well. It clearly is a useful service to provide. Which is presumably why Google have stepped in to the field as well with the launch of their Baraza question and answer service.
The new service, specifically produced for African internet users, allows people in countries across Africa to share knowledge with each other by asking questions and posting answers. Baraza means “taskforce” or “council” in Swahili and it’s this collective usefulness of shared knowledge that led to the products’ development.
As the Google Labs team explain: A large number of questions that are typed into Google’s search engine by users are written as if they were talking to their friends. For example, “How can I write a movie script for Nollywood?” or “How does the stock exchange operate in Ghana?” or “What is the recipe for bitter leaf soup?” or “What is the best company for car insurance in Nairobi?”
Unfortunately, many of these questions do not have good search results – the information is not online or it may be inaccurate. Many users have dozens of similar questions every day, but spend a lot of time looking for the answers. A few weeks ago, we opened up Google Baraza to a select group of users in Africa to test the new service. Since then, we’ve seen thousands of visits to the site, and tens of thousands of questions and answers submitted from almost every country in Sub Saharan Africa.
Answers provided by users of the service will also be integrated into the main search results pages on Google Search. The Google Baraza service offers user-generated advice on almost any topic. Users can create profiles, send messages, follow others, rate answers and receive points for asking and answering. Experts in any field, from agriculture to zodiac interpretation, can log-on and start providing advice.
Here’s the Introduction to Baraza video:
So go give it a try and let us know what you think of it. Will it replace the established Q&A services? Or is this just a Google flash-in-the-pan?