The social Q & A space is rightly getting the attention it deserves. The search for answers to tough questions is part of the quest for finding the best knowledge by utilizing the wisdom of crowds. Many of the Q & A products from a few years ago lacked social features and failed to become mainstream tools. User generated content and social networking hold a large potential for collaboration and knowledge management at a scale which was never possible before. In this post, I present a quick summary of the Q & A tools, from the old to the most recently announced tool: Facebook Q & A which has the ingredients to become a dominating source of  information and another way for brands to engage with their target audience.

There are at least 3 success factors for a “question and answer” solution:

  1. Quality of content – are the answers of best possible quality? are the right people answering the questions?
  2. Ease of finding the information – how difficult is it to find the information within the product and on the larger web
  3. Reputation of those who participate – can the system accurately identify experts and reward them?

Here’s the comparison view for Q & A platforms. The right column indicates whether the platform makes its information available to search engines or not.

I expect the Facebook Q & A feature to develop and mature over the next few months. As Mashable points out: Facebook Q & A could benefit from a more seamless and connected integration across the social platform. Perhaps most notably, the feature could be more effectively integrated with Facebook Pages.

What is your favorite tool to find answers and to browse the solutions from peers and experts? What features would you like to see in Q & A products?

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