Q & A Sites are websites where members can pose and answer other member’s question. In case of some sites users also tend to enjoy the option to rate the response on the basis of how informative it is. Through these Q & A sites free sharing of knowledge takes place regarding human experiences, ranging from how to access different features of a website to public experiences with regards to a product or service used. Questions are posed about health issues, food, family, school/college, products, services etc. There are many Q & A websites on the web; however the most popular of these platforms include Yahoo answers, LinkedIn answers, Facebook questions and Quora.

Yahoo answers was usually considered to be the largest Q & A site with 21 million users in the United States alone and approximately 90 million users worldwide. Here people can ask questions from every walk of life and answer others on varying topic of interests. Yahoo answers provide an opportunity to users all over the world to share their knowledge and experience with each other. What makes it more useful is that the users also have the option to rate the best answer and earn points by providing informative answers to questions. Through the use of point system, Yahoo answers ensures active participation and discourages irrational and irrelevant responses. Moreover this system also ensures that issues should not continue on indefinitely and shall be considered resolved once the best answer is chosen.

Unlike Yahoo answers, LinkedIn answers focus more on questions related to employees and employers. Business, employment and work related questions are usually posted by the members. Moreover it has the benefit that members can pick people from their contacts, who according to them are more likely to provide informative reply to their question and thus receive a wide range of replies in return from members and their connections. Like Yahoo answers it also allows members to gain credit by providing best answer to questions.

Facebook has recently launched a Q & A site called Facebook answers. With over 750 million users so far, it seems that it will take on all other popular Q & A sites. Facebook answers not only provides opportunities to its members to pose and answer questions relating to all walks of life but also provides opportunities for businesses and industries to pose questions about their products and services and gain insightful customer opinion within a very short span of time saving lot of money and energy. Like LinkedIn Facebook also restricts who can answer the questions by limiting it to the news feeds of friends and their friends. However unlike some other Q & A sites the answers are not open ended. Users have to select one among the multiple choice options presented.

Quora is another online Q & A site which allows users to share knowledge with one another by asking and replying to questions. Quora has approximately 310,000 users. Like other Q & A sites Quora accumulates questions and answers regarding various aspects of life from social welfare to QR Codes in marketing. However it also allows its users to join forces by not only editing their own question and answers but by suggesting improvements to the answers given by other users thus improving the overall quality of the information being shared on the website.

These Q & A sites allow opportunities for individual entrepreneurs as well as businesses and industries to reach a wide range of people in a short time span. Companies can get instant feedback regarding their product or service and gain valuable suggestions for example to gain insight into iPhone productivity apps . They can also run customer opinion polls free of cost through the use of such Q & A sites. Thus saving cost and achieve greater efficiency. Companies can conduct marketing surveys through these sites thus anticipating the response to their newly launched products and make improvements based on the suggestion.

However there are certain drawbacks as well. Not all information posted is useful. Each site has some devoted members who try to provide the best possible answers. However a lot of people are posting just for the sake of socializing and not for the purpose of sharing information. Moreover a lot of people just go with the flow saying what others are saying regardless of their personal opinion. Furthermore opinion from anonymous sources cannot be trusted, and the data obtained will be only limited to that segment of the population who regularly visit these sites, disregarding the others. Thus the information obtained through polls conducted by businesses and entrepreneurs would be subject to bias and might not be representative of the entire target population.

Despite the above mentioned shortcomings theses Q & A sites provide a great opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to interact directly with their customers and gain firsthand knowledge about user`s experience with the products and services.

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