I first wrote about Wondir back in November. I really liked the promise of the site – a sort of community based Q&A service, but since then it seemed the site, which was in beta, had been quiet. Well it’s back, and I had a chance to catch up with founder Matt Koll recently.
Koll has learned a lot tweaking Wondir over the past few months. The site recently crossed its millionth question and answer, and is doing around 6-7,000 questions a day. Back in the Fall, they were doing 2-3,000, so clearly something is working.
Sure, Google recently incorporated answers into their index, but Wondir is an entirely different beast. Google’s (or MSN’s, or Ask’s) question answering is a very broad and very shallow play, Wondir is the vertical engine of Q&A. And why not? If Koll can manage to get a really useful community working on creating base pairs of questions and answers, he’ll have quite a content play on his hand – and that means all sorts of possible business models. For now, he sees AdWords as his friend. His AdWords CTR has been impressive – reportedly 4%. Clearly, answering specific questions is good business.
But Koll has his work cut out: he has a chicken and egg issue with traffic, and he has to determine where to place his resources – should he focus on the syndicated model (placing private label Wondir implementations on other sites like ichef) or pursue a model where Wondir becomes a massive destination? I suggested he try to populate each with the other, creating a kind of Q&A Commons, and he liked the idea, but publishers tend to like to keep their answers to themselves.
There’s more to come: Koll has instituted a rating system for answers which has helped him in formulating a ranking algorithm of sorts for his base pairs. Consider it a “helpfulness index” – like PageRank for Answers. It’s not quite baked yet, but it should be worth watching. Also, expect some interesting RSS news from Wondir soon, Koll hinted. Net net: I’m going to keep tabs on Wondir. If they can get a full head of steam and create a community of intentional traffic, there’s much to learn there.
Release in extended entry.
Wondir Launches Live Question & Answer Engine
Wondir Weaves Search and Instant Messaging
to Create Free and Open Answer Communities
BETHESDA, MD — April 19, 2005 – Wondir Inc. today launches www.wondir.com, a free, live question and answer engine that connects people with questions to people with answers. Wondir has the speed and simplicity of a search engine – and goes beyond search to enable live and personal responses to questions.
“Sometimes it takes a village – or more precisely — someone in the village who can help you,” said Dr. Matthew Koll, founder and CEO of Wondir. “There are millions of people in the world who are eager to share their knowledge, experience, advice and opinions – who want to reach out and help other people solve problems and answer questions. The key is getting the right question in front of the right people at the right time.”
It takes innovative and specialized technology to connect the villagers. While Wondir looks like a search engine, it is actually designed for questions that lie beyond the reach of search engines. The search engine model provides three key benefits: speed, ease-of-use and a proven sponsored-search business model. Wondir integrates advanced search, instant messaging, e-mail, database, categorization, browsing, reputation systems and push and pull technologies to uncover good answers fast and to spark communication.
Anyone can ask. Anyone can answer. And everyone can share, since all of the questions and answers are searchable immediately. Good answers can be found again whenever someone asks a similar question.
The official launch of www.wondir.com follows three years of development and extensive public testing. The Wondir community has produced more than 1 million questions and answers. More than 100,000 different people have answered questions, and more than 60,000 people are registered members of the Wondir community.
“While there are loads of question answering services on the Web, Wondir is different in some important ways,” wrote John Battelle on Searchblog.com. “First, it feels like a search engine. Second, Wondir aggregates questions and answers through the architecture of participation, essentially getting its questioners to become answerers, and vice versa. Getting people to answer questions is not as easy as it might seem, but Wondir has thought through all of this. I like where this service is going.”
Registration is free. You don’t need to register to use the service, but if you do register, you can take advantage of valuable features. Registered members can create a profile that points to their homepage or blog, or promotes their business or a cause they care about. Members can create New Question Alerts, so they are notified whenever someone asks a question that matches their interests. In addition, businesses of any size can reach potential customers by creating a Wondir profile that points to their business site and then they can offer helpful answers to some relevant questions.
Members also can rate the quality of answers to help promote credibility on the service. Naturally, the ratings provided by highly rated members carry the most weight.
Wondir is not just a place on the Web; it is also a sharable platform. Wondir supports business partners who can enliven their own communities with live Q&A and increase their revenues with Wondir’s revenue sharing program. Blogs, search engines, social networks, organizations – any kind of online community – can add the Wondir question box and Wondir’s unique and addictive stream-of-questions ticker to their own site. Partners can create private categories – or they can tap into the Wondir community, using Wondir as a hub connecting people on sites all around the web who share an interest.
Vibrant online communities like www.ichef.com, www.theautochannel.com, and www.ratemyteachers.com have incorporated Wondir-powered live Q&A into their sites. Thousands of new Q&As are added daily. Partners like www.topix.net and www.pregnancy.org enrich the experience for all Wondir users by being sources of valuable and timely information.
“Wondir gives our users a chance to interact with an immediacy and personality that draws them closer, bringing them back to the site on a regular basis,” said Michael Hussey, co-founder of RateMyTeachers.com. “We have linked Wondir’s live Q&A to our content related to specific high schools so that current and former students can engage in a live dialogue about their teachers.”
Added Dr. Koll: “Think of Wondir as a virtual town square. And, the more crowded it gets, the easier it is to get the answers you need.”
Wondir is a free, live question and answer engine that connects people with questions to people with answers in a fast and easy way. With innovative search and instant messaging technology, Wondir puts the right question in front of the right people to get fast, relevant answers. Wondir’s business model is based on targeted, sponsored-search advertising. Distribution is through partners who place Wondir’s question box and stream-of-questions ticker on their site and share revenue. Based in Bethesda, Md., Wondir Inc. was founded in 2003 by a group of senior search pioneers, including Dr. Matthew Koll, who previously founded the search company Personal Library Software (acquired by America Online in 1998), and Laura Horn, former executive at AOL and LEXIS-NEXIS.