Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Aardvark: Get All Your Questions Answered Live

So my friend Tim introduced me to this great new service called Aardvark that I've been using for a while now, and it's been really cool.

So the basic premise is that you often have questions that you want answered. Generally, I turn online first and search there. For my specific questions, I'll sometimes find answers under Yahoo! Answers. But what happens when I don't find the answer quickly? I'll often keep looking through the search results and get blogs and forums about stuff related to what I need to know, or such. Traditionally, if I couldn't find my answer, I would need to make an account on the forums and post my questions there, hoping to get an answer. But that could often take forever, or simply be unreasonable and such.

So this is where Aardvark comes in: when you don't find your answer online quickly by googling, you ask Aardvark the question. Now Aardvark isn't some crazy smart AI, it is simply a service that connects people who have questions with people who have answers. I've found so far that it works REALLY well. In fact, I haven't had any question that hasn't received a good answer (and believe me, I've asked some very difficult questions).

When you sign up you choose the topics you believe you know about, and Aardvark will forward you questions about those topics later on. Aardvark will even tag the topics on the questions you ask. Usually the auto-tagging works pretty well, but occasionally it fails miserably (it's fairly entertaining when it does). Aardvark is pretty reasonable about the amount of questions you get asked (you can set how many you want), and theyre generally legitimate questions. They even have an option to type "google" if the questions was stupid and could be answered by simply searching Google for the answer (like when someone asks when does movie ______ release on DVD). Aardvark even goes one step further and provides the user with a link to those results.

Generally it's important not to ask stupid questions (I've gotten a few) because it really pisses people off and doesn't make them want to help you. Most of the stupid questions I've gotten were of people "testing" the service. I found the answers to their questions as the first or second option on Google, and it was an annoying waste of time. If you're going to ask a question to "test" the service, at least ask a question that isn't on the first page of results when you Google the topic or whatever.

Aardvark is also integrated very well with IM, email, facebook, and twitter. The most convenient thing about the service is that it operates mostly through IM: you ask your questions, get answers, and help people out through GChat, AIM, MSN Messenger, or Yahoo Messenger, so you don't need to have a website open or download any special software. You can also ask questions by direct messaging Aardvark on twitter. It also goes further by allowing you to easily invite friends from your emails and Facebook to Aardvark, and when someone from one of the services joins Aardvark, you have a place where it tells you and suggest you add them to your network of friends. They're also beta testing an iPhone app, and you can ask questions via email. I'm waiting to be able to ask questions via SMS, since that will be the most convenient ever.

Aardvark generally forwards you questions from your network: your friends, friends of friends, groups you belong to, and location. Since the service is starting up, they're really promoting that you invite your friends and such to Aardvark. They claim that when you have 10 friends join, you'll get a free T-Shirt (they claim they will contact you). So far I've had 13 people accept personal invitations (22 people in my direct network), and I have not had anyone try to contact me (it's been at least a month or two).
Any-whose, whenever you have questions you can't answer, turn to Aardvark, you'll be surprised by how well it works.

If you need the link again, it's here: http://vark.com/s/A0re

So I just realized I posted this twice by accident. Sorry.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Gal, thanks for the great article on Aardvark! Glad to hear you've been awesome answers. When your 10th friend joined, you should have gotten an IM with a link to get a t-shirt, but if you email me, I'll be sure to send you one.

I'd love to hear any other feedback that you or your readers have.

- Alison @ Aardvark
alison@aardvarkteam.com

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