I’ve been trying to understand more about both new features and competition in the Chinese search engines market–with an eye toward having something to say about where innovation is happening and how ideas are flowing from one online space to another. (Tip: if you’re interested in search, you have to visit Webmaster World.com’s excitingly useful Asia Pacific Search Engine Forum).
Let’s take a quick look at two social search features: sites where users share questions and answers with one another.
China’s largest portal, Sina, capitalized on its massive community of users with its 2005 launch of “爱问iAsk”, which in addition to its Q&A site, can also search the web, news, images, music, video, local
content for over 50 Chinese cities, and an online encyclopedia.
An interesting difference between iAsk’s Q&A site (found here) and Yahoo! Answers, says my IFTF colleague Mike Love, is that iAsk allows users to decide how many points a question is worth to them rather than have the point scale pre-determined by the system. Both systems reward users with points for answering questions (an incentive for participation) and deduct points for asking questions. By letting users decide their own point value, users create something closer to a knowledge market. Which questions are really critical? Recent 100 point questions included: a) How can I find a cheaper way to make stock trades online?; b) Should I ask for my official CCP dossier from my school now that I’ve graduated?; c) Is it possible to review the actual results of the civil service exam, having failed it?
These sites are a rich form of data about what kind of knowledge people are seeking online.
link to Donews article on Baidu Knows and iAsk (Chinese)