Surprising similarities between Q&A for education and for shopping

July 5, 2011 by George Eberstadt

It is interesting to see that the same message-based approach that is finally making social Q&A work for ecommerce is also making social Q&A work for education.  Today’s New York Times profiles a new site called Piazza, which enables students to get help from classmates through a Q&A model.  As the Times describes it:

Although there are rival services, like Blackboard, an education software company, Piazza’s platform is specifically designed to speed response times. The site is supported by a system of notification alerts, and the average question on Piazza will receive an answer in 14 minutes.

That’s exactly what we see from our shopping Q&A system, Ask Owners.  By sending shopping questions directly to people who are likely to know the answer (because they bought the product!) Ask Owners outperforms bulletin board-style Q&A systems in 3 ways: many more answers, much faster answers, and higher quality answers.  It makes a lot of sense this model would be powerful for class-based communities, too.

Kudos to Piazza founder Pooja Nath.  We’re excited to see your success!