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Just Answers, FixYa, Yahoo Answers Informative - Self help website - crowd sourced help

Review by Bob_computers on 2010-08-31
CROWD SOURCED ANSWERS

The Basics Part 1

Ok we all know that crowd source can be a fantastic tool and if used correctly can also be a great benefit for anyone involved.

Crowd Sourced? What is that?

Most everybody has either communicated with a crowd-sourcing, or have heard of it by another name…Think of ‘call centers’, commonly found in 3rd world countries.

That, Virginia, is Crowd-Sourcing.

You have a broken product but you don’t want to have to buy a new one or you are pretty sure it can be fixed. You may just have lost the instructions or be unsure of a feature.

Who ya gonna call… Ghostbusters….?

Wait no that’s not right

First off you do your own thing and turn the house upside down looking for those pesky instructions or examine your product to see if you think you can fix it.
OK so that was a FAIL, but you are determined to see what can be done.

The “INTERNET”

Let’s go to the manufacturer’s web site and dang it didn’t you know they don’t have any help for my problem or they went bust or they even want way too much money !!

There has to be others out there with this problem…
Sure the INTERNET has many great pockets of information and you just need to find the right one so you type in your product name and WHOA… 1,000,000,000,000,000 bits of information and you don’t even know which one to try first.

So you realize you need to narrow it down so you add your MODEL…
Ah that’s a little better, that took a few zeros off the list, but it is still crowded with information overload.

OK let’s add just a little about the problem “FIX MY thingamajigs XXL version1.0”Cool, that’s way better and hey look a few places that specialize in fixing em.

BUT they want more than I paid, so they are all out. But what about these places “Let our experts help you!” That sounds to be worth a shot.

Right this site wants money but it doesn’t look all that expensive so let’s give it a whirl I already tried a few FREE ones and am still not sure

The place you are probably about to visit is known as a “crowd sourced” web site. The theory behind crowd sourcing is that every person has something of value to someone. Those individuals can share life experiences alongside those with a lifetime of qualified experience. Sharing what was learned when facing a similar problem.

But what issues can your crowd source experts deal with, and what problems can arise from this.

There are lots of self help web sites on the internet and for a moment I want to concentrate on three of them. HYPERLINK "http://www.justanswer.com" JustAnswer.com, HYPERLINK "http://www.fixya.com" FixYa.com, HYPERLINK "http://answers. yahoo.com/" YAHOO.com are all PRIME examples of crowd sourced websites These are the same type of site for our purpose and offer expert for hire to solve anything from a leaking tap to the brakes on your car.

Let’s now look at the obvious basic differences between these sites
Just Answer FixYa FixYa YAHOO (i)
Are experts vetted YES PARTIAL NO.
Are they self regulating for quality of answers YES NO YES.
Can anyone join NO YES YES.
Is there any guarantee about your answer YES NO NO
Do they offer refunds YES YES N/A
Do the experts have input to site development YES NO N/A
Continuous improvement systems in place for experts YES NO N/A
Experts paid according to the quality of the answer YES NO N/A
Is there a limit on experts areas of expertise YES NO NO
Do they offer tailored pricing YES YES N/A
Are there multiple payment methods YES (ii) YES (iii) N/A
Are REFUND rates high LOWER HIGHER N/A
Easy to navigate and find the right expert YES NO YES
Expert’s statistics have meaning YES NO YES
Expert satisfaction levels HIGH BELOW AVG N/A
Traffic patterns GROWTH DECLINE STEADY
Areas of Expertise 100+ 40 60 +18.
Cost effectiveness HIGH AVG MIXED
Ethics HIGH SUB PAR AVG
Just Answer FixYa YAHOO
Are experts vetted YES PARTIAL NO.
Are they self regulating for quality of answers YES NO YES.
Can anyone join NO YES YES.
Is there any guarantee about your answer YES NO NO
Do they offer refunds YES YES N/A
Do the experts have input to site development YES NO N/A
Continuous improvement systems in place for experts YES NO N/A
Experts paid according to the quality of the answer YES NO N/A
Is there a limit on experts areas of expertise YES NO NO
Do they offer tailored pricing YES YES N/A
Are there multiple payment methods YES (ii) YES (iii) N/A
Are REFUND rates high LOWER HIGHER N/A
Easy to navigate and find the right expert YES NO YES
Expert’s statistics have meaning YES NO YES
Expert satisfaction levels HIGH BELOW AVG N/A
Traffic patterns GROWTH DECLINE STEADY
Areas of Expertise 100+ 40 60 +18.
Cost effectiveness HIGH AVG MIXED
Ethics HIGH SUB PAR AVG

1. Yahoo is a FREE answer site but is crowd sourced and applicable to this subject
2. (2ii) More choices available
3. (iii) Credit card only and known to “double dip”


Ok so now let’s move on to the individual points and break them down a little more to give them meaning

Are experts vetted?
On Just Answer you have to APPLY to be an expert and must pass an ‘entrance test’. That does not guarantee you are accepted it just weeds out the wannabes. There is also a limit on how many experts are allowed in each area of expertise to ensure that experts don’t wander into areas they have no knowledge off. You then have to submit copies of your qualifications if you are accepted. And you have still not been given the means of earning money.

FixYa has a system where you answer any questions you see and if you answer enough you step up a graduated ladder to the top rank of GURU. However anyone can attain that rank with no prior knowledge of an area and you can even tick off as many areas as you want. Once a few answers are accepted you can then apply to earn money. Whilst there is a little quality control in place it is minimal. Once you are granted permission to become a “premium expert” you are allowed to answer anything you wish regardless of your knowledge

At Yahoo there are minimal restrictions in place apart from the obvious abuse policy that all the sites have. There is NO money involved and some of the experts just have fun at the asker’s expense but there are still a good number of experts who know the topics



Are they self regulating for quality of answers?
The experts and the management on Just answer both play a crucial role in these areas to not only maintain expertise and professionalism but to keep each other in check. An expert’s view is just as valid as the management of JustAnswer to protect the customer.

FixYa has a management only policy that is always in dispute one way or another. It is not uncommon to find experts battling with management who have a very low quality threshold and the experts who want to raise the bar. While an expert is welcome to post the correct answer, pointing out poor performance is frowned upon.

To some degree even YAHOO has self regulating experts who often point out other experts poor answers or post better ones

Can anyone join?
As mentioned already not just anyone can join the Just Answer site and this raises the quality bar a lot higher than the other two sites and is designed to do just that

With FixYa, yes they can and they actively encourage people to join.

Yahoo has a no holds barred policy too just like FixYa but being a true crowd source FRR model it really has to have this.

Is there any guarantee your answer is going to be close ?
With the quality procedures in place at JustAnswer you are bound to get answers that not only address the problem but are more likely to come from a PRO in that particular model or field.

I was a GURU on FixYa for over a year researching this and often had to step in to correct bad answers that quite often were not even close FixYa is apparently aware of this issues, and has stated that they are working on ‘upping the quality”.

Once again the model here on Yahoo is wide open and there is no guaranteed at all that your answer will be correct unless a few have answered and then you can judge from the responses if there is a good clue in there

Do they offer refunds ?
JustAnswer does, but the refund rate is much lower than its competitor in this rundown, as the quality is much higher to begin with. This has always been a point of contention with experts on

FixYa who are often never given a reason as to why or how the refund was given

Not applicable to Yahoo unless you count a verbal disagreement with a silly answer

Do the expert have input to site development?
JustAnswer is a continual improvement model and expert’s views are sought after and even taken into consideration to help the process.

FixYa has very limited scope in this area and even the smallest of bugs around the site are left unattended.

Yahoo does have a research group of quite large proportions so development and problems tend to be looked after quite fast or never even get noticed and you have to take into account the size of budget available to them

Is there a continuous improvement system in place to remove bad experts ?
They most certainly do but its use is not required all that often due to the higher requirements to even get into the site. Fellow experts in JustAnswer can review other experts’ work, and make recommendations that are often followed up if needed Customers too provide important input into an expert’s performance

Once again my personal experience and the open comments of FixYa staff place the emphasis in other areas, over that of weeding out ‘bad’ experts. Based upon that thought, I would have to say no, FixYa does not have an improvement system in place

The Abuse policy on Yahoo tends to deal with what we would call TROLLS etc but there is no real quality system on place above that






Are experts paid according to the quality of the answer?
At the Just Answer site, yes, they are and quite often happy. Customers have the ability to pay more than the asking price for the extra quality they get Each AoE has a lower limit but no real upper limit for any particular question.

FixYa has continually reduced the money paid to experts to address falling numbers of customers and to encourage new experts to take part in premiums and the tiny proportion of returning askers. Experts are expected to answer what may be a long and complex question for as little as $2 and are expected to keep returning to that question regardless until it is solved.

Yahoo does not qualify for this category unless you count brownie points
Is there a limit on expert’s areas of expertise?
Yes and unless you can prove your AoE on JustAnswer and maintain it then you may be subject to that AoE taking away from you as part of the continuous quality programme embedded into the system

At FixYa, No. Whilst the professional experts do tend to stick to their areas of knowledge on FixYa, there are quite a few choosing every possible category of expertise to be able to take any premium they can regardless of knowledge of a subject.

At Yahoo, No with such a free flow crowd source as this it would be almost impossible to limit a person
Do they offer tailored pricing?
They certainly do on JustAnswer and in fact it is almost a “what do you think your answer is worth” scheme. It does have a minimum which actually always tended to be lower than its competitor and with more money actually going to the expert. Yes

FixYa too has a tiered pricing scheme but the experts tend to see as little as 33% of what the asker pays. And even a complex high quality answer may only net an expert as little as $2.

Yahoo again does not qualify here as there are no payments needed or required.

Are there multiple payment methods?
Yes on JustAnswer there are and there are extra ones such as PayPal over and above those offered by its nearest paid rival which makes it a more attractive option for a crowd sourced answer.

Yes FixYa offers credit card only options but you have to remember to cancel any subscriptions or your card will continue to be charged regardless.
Again this does not apply to the FREE offering of Yahoo

Are REFUND rates high?
In comparison to the FixYa model the refunds are extremely low again this boils down to the simple quality approach of this site. When you compare notes with experts on JustAnswer you soon get the feel that they look at this as a minor irritant on occasion

FixYa experts are always asking about this topic as many see refunds without reason and based on my experience in FixYa I can say yes it is. The reasons are at least two fold and bad quality would be a primary reason along with unfathomable factors that FixYa will not give its experts
Poor old Yahoo once again does not qualify for this point.

Easy to navigate and find the right expert ?
Getting around JustAnswer is a breeze and getting to the right people for a problem is made easier by a system that actually guides you without you even knowing. The opening interface presented to the user is simple and not cluttered as can be seen here

FixYa is based on a FIXED list of products and areas of expertise taken from a product list supplied to them. Getting to the right
expert can be a problem as you may end up posting your question in an area of knowledge unrelated to your question. And your
first view is a long page cluttered and confusing with three question boxes on the same page

The open model used by Yahoo actually makes it easier than the paid model employed by FixYa and JustAnswer But the similarity between FY and YA are striking

Yahoo was the forerunner to FixYa so it’s easy to see where the layout was taken from





Do Experts statistics have meaning ?
You should be able to tell by your experts stats if they are good or bad and on JustAnswer you know you are getting a fair expert at least and that is right from the get go so YES stats do count

Another point of contention between experts and FixYa is that the system employed has always been easy to manipulate. Since it allows anyone to rate any solution, the door is open for self rating, buddy rating and down rating the competition. The short answer here is no, stats mean NOTHING on this particular site.

Yahoo is open to a small amount of abuse but for the most part they mean a little more than the FixYa model

Expert satisfaction levels ?
You won’t find too many disgruntled experts around JustAnswer because they tend to be paid better and have a valid method of talking things out with the site operators

Generally there is a lot of dissatisfaction at the way FixYa operates and does business with its experts.

Whilst Yahoo is such an open model trying to get feedback for this is at best a challenge but there are experts going way back still answering questions for nothing so I can only assume it holds some interest.

Traffic patterns
JustAnswer tends to show an overall growth regardless of seasonal changes and even world market liability.

FixYa exists in a highly volatile and very susceptible to market economy, and has to deal with a falling expert base with which to work

Yahoo holds its own quite well and is a consistent performer

Areas of Expertise
JustAnswer has quite a large expertise base that dwarfs FixYa offerings to include medical and legal advice but these come at a higher cost
FixYa has a restricted range of areas but does on rare occasions add an extra one or two when the absolute need arises.

Probably the widest selection of all crowd source sites is Yahoo but some areas tend to garner advice or insight based on suggestion not factual

Cost effectiveness
As we have seen Quality has been consistently high with JustAnswer so it tends to be more cost effective and given the wider choice of real expertise would have to be my fist place winner if I needed a solution to a problem. The veritable “lucky dip” on premium experts and even your answer makes this only marginally better than Yahoo Yahoo provides a great and most important FREE service and should not be discounted. BUT ! You need to be a little more aware of your problem and to be able to assess if the answer is correct or not

Ethics
How do our sites compare when it comes to rules and regulations is quite interesting with JustAnswer again coming out on top. Break a rule and you are noticed right away either by peers or management and doing something you should not be doing such as giving out an illegal software key/code, trying to talk to customers off site etc carries with it a penalty that is not just implied but enacted with vigor. Tolerance is zero. Experts at Just Answer are prohibited from all interaction off of the Just Answer site. Phone and fax numbers, E-mail addresses are automatically removed from view. Just Answer really goes out of their way to protect the identity of their customer.

FixYa use of rules is open to interpretation, but they do on occasion and especially if enough pressure is brought to bear take some actions. The severity depends on the expert’s worth to FixYa. High hits rate = lower punishment. Time and again I have 'Red Flagged' (Red Flag - the mechanism employed to notify admin of abuse in any form) an individual only to see the same person the next day doing the same thing. Rules are used and abused, the main rule, from my observations is an unwritten one. If you keep a low profile, nothing is off limits or out of bounds. If caught, claim ignorance, maybe get an e-slap, and continue as if nothing happened. Once again I have seen this practice first hand over a period of a year.

It’s not hard to get the grand order of the BOOT on Yahoo but being as open as it is it’s also just as easy for the persistent offenders to get back in





So even from these simple criteria we can see some crucial differences regarding the quality that you can expect and how easy they are to use and even what type of answer you can expect.

If I wanted to fix my brakes which is a thing that carries responsibility and safety aspects then using the FixYa model or the Yahoo one I could get a plumber giving me advise. Not what you would call confidence building.

Just Answer on the other hand has quite a few steps in place to ensure you are going to get a much better answer. Whilst researching this article I did participate in two of the sites.

Yahoo just needed an email address and a little common sense to get going. It did not take long to climb as the amount of questions coming in is like a waterfall and you cannot even begin to cover some of the ones you might want to without giving up eating and sleeping

FixYa was also easy to actually get from nothing to GURU as all I did was answer a few of the “free” questions with honest to goodness answers that were nothing special but correct. My first application for PE (premium expert status) was delayed due to some holiday but generally only one person was dealing with these so I suspect they were overloaded. Anyway I was approved quite easily

When it came to getting into JustAnswer and even with qualifications I hit a brick wall as the areas I needed to cover to make this work were already full according to the email. I did manage to get an area that I did not really have all the knowledge I would need to operate fully so never really pushed as I knew I would be discovered and could not give their customers what they wanted.

So how much can you make on these sites ?
Well the answer is that on JustAnswer you can if you have what it takes make a living and the questions seem to be distributed on a fairly even basis with earnings of up to $1000 per week possible

On FixYa the premiums tend to be distributed quite oddly and what I can only term as poor experts get a lot of the higher paying premiums. It is almost a feeding frenzy but anywhere from $10 a months to $1000 if you know how. My highest was I think $140 for a month only ever really being able to take the lesser priced questions despite my best effort and even dedicating a computer to just that task It is not a get rich quick scheme by any means and can involve long hours and some real brainwork on an expert’s part.

Even at the end of the day REAL experts may offer differing advice but will still give you a REAL answer

If you see “buy a new one you will be glad you did” as your first answer without a full and detailed reason why that stands up to scrutiny then it’s not an answer you should accept.

On FixYa and Yahoo the phrase “trust me I am a (insert profession)” is not always the best sign. There is a better chance that a person on JustAnswer who says that is at least telling the truth and is willing to back up his/her answer with FACTS. Remember the age old phrase that “BULLPOO can baffle brains” this comes into play on ANY crowd sourced site and more so where an expert could be giving medical advice but is nothing more than a janitor.

Crowd sourcing in and of itself is a noble idea that attracts experts from every profession that wish to help people by sharing their expertise. However, where the possibility of compensation for providing these services has been introduced, it attracts those with a less than noble set of values, the sharing becomes a competition.

In my opinion, where there is the possibility of payment, there also needs to be at least a modicum of quality control.

In conclusion “you pays ya money you takes ya chances”

From the three choices I would first start with YAHOO if it’s not a time critical problem and see what sort of advise I get from them. If I know enough about it I may decide to fix it myself or take the next step and PAY for an answer OK how much RISK do you want to take? 50/50 shot on getting to the right area and even the right expert or a far greater chance If I had enough detail about the issue and I was willing to take a financial risk I would try FixYa. BUT if I wanted to be pretty sure I got the best on offer and was prepared to spend only a tiny bit more I would jump right into JustAnswer without a doubt !

Also beware that some aspects of sites may play on wording a great deal almost as a lure
But if used with caution and care its is not uncommon to save hundreds of dollars or more and even time getting things fixed that some shops would and could rip you off for repairs etc.
Knowledge is power and these types of site can empower you.

Respective trademarks and logo’s etc. are acknowledged
Comments:3 Replies - Latest reply on 2012-02-06
Posted by Harbinger on 2010-09-03:
Comparing Just Answer to FixYa is like comparing oranges and rotten apples.

The focus of J.A. is customer satisfaction. They choose the best experts who in turn provide quality solutions.

At Fixya, the prime directive is ad dollars, that means generating hits. In effect, quantity is more important than quality. Their entire site is built on this premise.

At J.A., expertise must be proven.

At FY, every person that registers is given the title of expert. The only prerequisite is finding the site in the first place.

The real experts at FY operate according to their own profession standards and provide quality solutions as they would in the real world. They are initially unaware that their value systems differ greatly with those of FY.

Quality is not important? It's not even part of the equation.

Say it takes an hour for an expert to type up a well thought out quality solution to a problem. And in that same time, a person with no knowledge on a subject googles an answer or just say replace it can respond to 15 to 20 or more problems. Who is more valuable to a site that lives or dies based on hits.

Real experts exist at FY. They just don't stay long once they realize they have no value there. Real experts are handicapped by their expertise. They are, because of their expertise, worth less to the site than those with out the experience and training, those who are not encumbered by moral and ethical restraints that might otherwise prevent them from supplying substandard solutions en masse.

FixYa boasts 100% Customer Satisfaction or your money back.

Whether from poor answer or unscrupulous customers wanting something for nothing, a lot of money goes back. FY does not care, they still gets the hits.

This blanket statement also means that no matter how good a solution is, a refund is available for the asking. No questions, no arguments. Once again putting real experts at a disadvantage. For real experts, FY is like a hospital gown, it doesn't cover your back.

I could go on to cover their worthless rating system, their numerous questionable policies, (and I may at some point) but for now, they are not worth the time I've already spent on them.

In my opinion, the author of this review is deserving of praise for a well researched comparative. Yet, I feel in trying to remain impartial in the face of the facts he must surely be aware of, he was overly magnanimous in his conclusions.

This review is far too forgiving of the practices and policies employed by FixYa.
Posted by Canadafix on 2010-09-03:
Computer Bob is telling it as it is, as he usually does.
It is very frustrating to see an opportunity lost due to inept management at Fixya.
In my time spent there as a "guru" I have seen quite a few very talented people come in and leave almost as quickly.
Many experts tried to help and guide FY along but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Too bad to waste such a talent pool they had available.
Posted by beloev on 2012-02-06:
none of the sites really help in locating a direction manual for a company that may be out of business, e.g for a Bellsouh call waiting, caller id system,which I have been trying to locate for several months.

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