Crowdsourcing is gaining credibility as a means of finding answers on the Internet. First Google added Wikipedia definitions to its search results. Now Bing is adding answers from Quora.
If you use Bing as your search engine, you might have noticed that you have an option to log in through Facebook and Twitter on the side of the page to surface your friends’ posts in your search results along with the relevant Web pages. The idea is that your friends might have mentioned places to find kayaking equipment or good vegan food, but maybe you didn’t see – or even need – the information when they posted it.
The problem is, what do your friends really know about the things you are looking for on a search engine? And why couldn’t you just ask them?
But if you’ve asked a question, chances are pretty good that somewhere on the Internet, someone else has asked the same question before you. And the answers to those questions are often on Quora.
Launched in 2010, the question and answer site has attracted a community of inquisitive people, some experts in their fields, who both give thoughtful answers to questions and rate answers from other people.
A good example of the kind of person it takes to make a site like this work well is Justin Knapp, a political science and philosophy graduate of Indiana University who made over 1 million edits on Wikipedia in seven years.
Much like the crowdsourced encyclopedia, Quora doesn’t have a governing body to verify user accounts or to check facts, but the self-policing system seems to have worked well enough.
It would seem that people trust the answers they find on Quora as much as they trust Wikipedia. By adding Quora to its social sidebar, Bing may have just confirmed it.