Last week, I blogged that the “question and answer” search paradigm wasn’t dead at all. Earlier this afternoon, Google responded by launching its Google Q&A feature. Now users can type a one-line question into the search box, and if a simple factual answer exists in the company’s mining of open source encyclopedia-type information, the results page contains an answer in the OneBox section at the top. Gary Price at Search Engine Watch has a good initial write up on it.
For example, I typed in, “What is the population of Pittsburgh?” and Google responded with a simple reply, “Pittsburgh Population: 334,563” at the top of my results.
This Google Q&A is a great simple first step. But “question and answer” microcontent publishing still has a lot of progress to be made. And new startups will continue to make waves here as well, not just the old guard.
Most questions that people have can’t be answered with simple factual answers. Users already know where to get these – Wikipedia, dictionary.com, etc. This service just makes it easier by cutting out the middle man. Look for continuing innovation around answers that are deeper, more subtle, and opinion-based.