Saturday, April 11, 2009

Can Google Answers 3 Compete with Yahoo! Answers?: Google TipJar

Yet another re-birth of Google's original futile fee-based attempt at getting into the knowledge market market, launched in April 2002. This initial site, dubbed Google Answers, has since shut down (December 2006) and was replaced by Google Questions and Answers. This version has made little to know progress since its beginning in June 2007 still posing no competition to Yahoo! Answers, which was actually launched three years after the launch of Google Answers. Questions and Answers is still available only in Russian and Chinese, although it is possible to access the actual websites, you just won't be able to use them (unless you're loyal enough to use a translator to translate every page on the site).
However, the long-awaited truly Yahoo! Answers-esque Google version of a knowledge market has arrived in the form of TipJar. This site is barely a few weeks old so it's hard to give constructive criticism that is really valid but right now, I must say, it is crap. If Google continues like this, they can forget about their ambitions of competing with Yahoo! in answers sites, let alone beating them.

Firstly, the entire website is extremely confusing to the point where you can almost sue them for criminal harassment. There are several different question views, links that take you to blank pages and links that serve to confuse you. Bunches of useless features also exist that include organizing specific users' tips by most popular and least popular as well as organizing your votes by most recent and least recent.
Also, there is no incentive for giving sharing tips or voting with no understandable points system, no ranking system, no levels and no profile customizability to show the outside world your expertise. This pretty much takes away the factor of addictiveness from the equation making TipJar a sure failure.
In addition to this, looking to capitalize on the economic downturn Google has created this site bearing only money-saving tips with no other aspects being covered. Nobody is going to check TipJar daily for money-saving tips. Plus, you can't really ask questions. You can share tips but you cannot ask questions. You're just basically stuck with seeing if you get lucky and find exactly what you're looking for in their database of roughly 5000 tips, not exactly the easiest task in the world.
And they must have really rushed to get this site up because the design is unbelievably poor. It's apparent that they made an effort the create a modern-looking site but failed miserably, creating a Yahoo!-like stuck-in-between-modern-and-oldies site. The icons suck, the logo sucks, the font choice sucks, the layout sucks and even the favicon sucks. And the lime-green color scheme is an utter eyesore that will turn you off immediately.
Further, the vote system that Google uses to decide which tips are good and which are bad is useless. If a money-saving tip is good, people know it's good and don't need green bars telling them what advice they should take.

And of course, who can forget the unbearably buggy system pops up a "[log] Google Moderator" page filled with random text every time you move to a different page on the site. Other smaller things that will begin to piss you off is the all lower-case alt text, screwed up mouseover reactions and the bottom toolbar that never moves from your screen.
Naturally, with all this, users are taking this service as an utter joke. In fact, some of the more popular tips include "Don't eat yellow snow", "Don't speed" and "Don't do drugs", which sure, are all good tips, for idiots.

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