Google has launched a number of ventures which follow the model of Yahoo Answers and other question/answers sites to some extent. Most of these ventures didn’t conclude very successfully. The earlier service by Google, Google Questions and Answers, also involved a monetary aspect and thus never gained momentum. However, the latest launch by Google in this domain is Google Baraza. Google Baraza is a community-based resource venture where people ask and respond to questions. Moreover, in Baraza user gain points when they answer questions other asked.
With more and more people joining the web, there is an increased need for different questions/answers portals. A number of such portals are already on the run. What Google has brought to this table, through Google Baraza, is quite interesting.
In most questions/answers portals, members are usually awarded in the form of points. The more points a user has, the more questions he/she has answered. This is the prevalent way of awarding. But Google Baraza has a unique twist here. It awards users more for viewing a topic than for answering it. In this way, it encourages the users not only to answer but to visit different topics even more. And this is certainly a successful strategy.
This key feature of Google Baraza certainly stands it apart from most of it’s counterparts. Google Baraza is more like a community-discussion form rather than a mere, typical questions/answers portal. It’s interface as well as usability suggests that it should be treated and used an an open discussion forum where people ask questions, respond to them and may even discuss those questions. When placed in the context that Google Baraza claims to be a service for Africa, this really makes sense. Within a community, everyone can answer a question more or less but the even more important aspect is the subjective opinion of people relevant to a given question. And this is what Google Baraza promotes.
Once you have posted a question, you will be notified every time an answer is posted. This is very useful for users who are eagerly looking for answers. They will be prompted as soon as an answer arrives and they can then browse to the respective thread and read the answers.
Freedom of language and dialect:
The community guidelines provided by Google reinforce the concept of a community-resource model. The guidelines encourage the users to use any local language or a dialect they are comfortable with. Answers can be posted in that language and dialect. Since Baraza is community-based, this fits in perfectly with the overall orientation of this service.
Google has also developed an extensive list of such content which is unacceptable on Google Baraza. If any user feels that a certain content is not appropriate, he/she can easily report it to Google and if the complain is found correct, Google will have that content removed.
The social media aspect:
From what it seems, Google is basically trying to harness the power of social media in Google Baraza. This means that such content which is not online yet, or can be called the breaking-news stuff, can be easily shared immediately through Google Baraza in a local community. It may eventually evolve into a discussion forum for a community to post latest queries, with the most up-to-date information so that a discussion may ensue consequently. However, all discussion must stay as questions/answers. Any content that is neither a question nor an answer may be removed by Google.
Categorization through tags:
All content is categorized with the help of useful tags. For instance, when a user posts a question, he/she must tag it under an appropriate category. This pools content to that category so that if anyone wants to search the content on the basis of categories, he/she can navigate straight to that category and read the content.
Overall, Google Baraza seems like a very promising venture by Google. It is still in it’s beta version and we still have to witness Google campaign for it. Also, currently it seems limited to an African audience. If eventually Google tries to carry it forward, we may see a new forum replacing Yahoo Answers and other such questions/answers forums.
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