I had a couple issues come up in the last few days that I wanted guidance. So I decided to try LinkedIn’s new (launched January 2007) Answers service. I also posed a similar question to Yahoo Answers (launched Dec. 2005).
These Answer services aren't much different than a standard web forum, but the presentation is definitely better and there is a focus on answering a specific question rather than having threaded discussions. (Google also had an answer service staffed by experts charging for answers, but this was shut down last December.)
LinkedIn and Yahoo Answers are fairly similar. You need an account with Yahoo or LinkedIn (if you’re not familiar with the many benefits of joining LinkedIn see my post HyperLinkedIn).
Once you are member, you can pose a finite number of questions. LinkedIn limits you to five a month and Yahoo has a point system that limits how many questions you can pose (basically you have to answer others’ questions to get points to be able to pose your questions – but Yahoo starts you off with a bunch, so you can easily test it out). Both will email you when you get a response (which typically happens in the first couple days and then that's it) and both seem to offer RSS subscription to the topics and questions. Both also allow you to vote on the best answer.
Which one is better?
Both are quite useful and were a big help. Both also have problems that are based more on human nature than any technical glitch. In Yahoo’s case, I found people were posting stupid responses just to get points, and in LinkedIn’s case some were posting inappropriate responses for self-promotion. Wikipedia offers a good look at other criticism of Yahoo Answers.
Overall, I slightly prefer LinkedIn as it gives the opportunity to pose questions only to your network and I think that in helps build community that may lead to new contacts.
As per my previous post, I was thinking wouldn’t it be great if Shakira was on LinkedIn? The questions I have for her.
Shakira on MySpace and I asked her if she’ll be my friend. I had to ask the PussyCat Dolls three times to be my friend before they’d finally have me. Sucks to be turned down by former burlesque dancers, even if they are all gorgeous and can actually sing (seriously, I have their album and it's good!)
Shakira, if you’re listening please join LinkedIn!