A colleague alerted me to Aardvark, a social search service, scheduled to launch during SXSW, that offers users to ask question via instant messenger or email and receive live answers from your social network. Check out recent coverage by John Batelle and ReadWriteWeb.
The initial press is quite positive. In particular, ReadWriteWeb compares it favorably to asking questions on Twitter:
In our internal tests, we realized that a lot of the answers often rivaled those we received when asking our Twitter network. Thanks to the fact that Aardvark automatically routed our questions to people with the right expertise, all the answers we received so far were top-notch. In case you didn’t like the answer (or if it was obscene), you can flag it and rate it on the service’s website.
I haven’t experienced the service, so I’m in no position to evaluate it. I can’t say I’ve been overwhelemed with social question answering on Google (R.I.P.), Yahoo, or LinkedIn. Asking questions on Twitter works well for me, but that’s probably because I have a substantial number of real, knowledgeable followers (the TunkRank is strong with this one!).
But what I’m not understanding is Aardvark’s incentive system. I’ve looked at their blog and white paper, but I don’t see any mention of tangible or intangible incentives. Perhaps the incentives are reptuation and the interaction itself.
In any case, I’m cautiously optimistic. If anyone has managed to get an invite and can share, I’d greatly appreciate a chance to try it out.