WikiAnswers.com uses wiki technology and fundamentals, allowing communal ownership and editing of content. All the questions that have an answer can be edited and improved over time. WikiAnswers.com uses an Alternates System – where every answer can have dozens of different questions that "trigger" it. When a question is similar to an existing one, they are joined as alternatives. This helps prevent duplicate entries in an effort to promote more cohesive answers. WikiAnswers was created in 2002 by Chris Whitten as FAQ Farm. It and all corresponding domains were acquired by Answers Corporation in November 2006 to become the user-generated content (UGC) component of Answers.com. Following the acquisition, the product was renamed WikiAnswers. As of August 2013, it had over 19 million answers; over 8,500 categories; over 29 million contributors; and 1,087 volunteer supervisors. According to comScore May 2010 data, Answers.com sites, including WikiAnswers, had 45.4 million unique visitors in the US. WikiAnswers is a leading Q&A website on the Internet. As of August 2013, the web information company Alexa Internet ranks WikiAnswers and its Answers.com sister sites as the 193rd most popular on the Internet.
The WikiAnswers.com Community is made up of various online volunteers, most commonly acting as Contributors and Supervisors. Other classifications include Premier Answerers, Special Project Assistants, Mentors, Bug Catchers and those participating in special site-wide programs such as Vandal Patrol, Community Outreach, WikiReviewers, and WikiAnswers’ Influential Teens (WIT). All volunteers are able to contribute in various ways and personalize their user experience through profiles, watchlists, etc.
Contributors form the majority of the WikiAnswers.com community and engage in the site's primary activities: asking and answering questions, improving existing answers and collaborating with others. Each individual addition and edit that a person makes is called a 'contribution', which correlates to one’s total number of contributions and helps form the site’s Top Contributors lists. Participants can also give others “Trust Points” for demonstrating trustworthy and worthwhile contributions.
When a Contributor has reached a certain number of contributions or "Trust Points", or is deemed by Supervisors to have made a significant contribution to the website, they are eligible to receive special recognition awards in the form of profile badges (e.g. 5000 contributions is a Silver Level display emblem). Contributors also have an opportunity to reach additional milestones for their ongoing participation. Special contributor levels include: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Double Platinum and Ruby.
WikiAnswers.com's most active and trusted participants are invited to become volunteer Supervisors. These individuals are given additional tools, known as "Super Powers", enabling them to make higher-level edits. With these powers, they can merge duplicate questions together, feature questions on the home page, block vandals, transform discussion posts into answers and trash questions, amongst other advanced functions.
WikiAnswers.com currently has two types of volunteer Supervisor classifications: Category and Floating. Category Supervisors opt to look after one or more categories of interest. Often, those interested in a certain field or hobby will request to become a Category-specific Supervisor. Floating Supervisors have all of the same tools as Category Supervisors, without opting to look after a certain area of the site. This is a more open-ended way for those without a lot of time to get started.
WkiAnswers.com also has Senior Supervisors. Senior Supervisors are drawn from experienced or knowledgeable existing supervisors. Senior Supervisors are responsible for and maintain the Top Categories on the site from which all other sub categories flow. There are currently 51 Senior Supervisors out of 1,087 supervisors on their site. Senior Supervisors keep an eye out and help newly promoted supervisors when their mentor may not be around the site. Senior Supervisors may at the request of a contributor remedy very minor disagreements however there is a process known as the Dispute Resolution process for site conflicts, which are handled by paid answers.com staff known as Community Assistants.
WikiAnswers.com also has a class of supervisors known as "Advanced Supervisors". These supervisors are normally drawn from the ranks of Senior Supervisors and are considered to be the most trustworthy supervisors on the site. They have more advanced powers than any other volunteer on the site, apart from the paid members of the WikiAnswers.com staff and such Senior Advanced Supervisors are more trusted by everyone who contributes to the site.
WikiAnswers.com has a number of special programs designed to help and engage Contributors, Supervisors and other participants. The special programs include:
- Mentoring Program: Matches up experienced site Supervisors (mentors) with newly promoted Supervisors (protégés) for support and guidance
- Vandal Patrol Program: Designed to combat vandal attacks, aid in the maintenance of question alternates and to improve the overall quality of the site
- Community Outreach: Heighten community awareness by welcoming and encouraging new Contributors, encouraging contributors who once contributed but are now out of action (MIA - Missing in action), sending out congratulatory messages on contributors' accomplishments, sending out birthday messages, etc.
- WikiAnswers’ Influential Teens (WIT): Exists to build the feeling of community among WikiAnswers’ teen Contributors by providing a safe online locale for teenagers to hang out and ask and answer questions
- WikiReviewers: Increases the quality of content that already exists on the site. This is done through coordinated editing and research.
- Special Project Assistants (SPA): Performs tasks that help users become familiar with the tools on the site which also helps to create a better overall user experience for all members of the WikiAnswers community.
- The Initiates Program (TIP): This is the newest program on the site to recruit users to become supervisors and aims to prepare contributors for a supervisory role on the site. The Initiates Program assigns contributors tasks that help them become familiar with the tools on the site just like the SPA program.
Events and contests
- WAmmy Awards: The WAmmy Awards is an annual contest held to honor excellence in contributing to WikiAnswers.com. All contributors are eligible to win awards. Depending on the category, winners are determined through either voting by the WikiAnswers.com volunteer Supervisor community or raw contribution numbers.
- AnswerThons: On March 1–2, 2008 WikiAnswers.com held its first AnswerThon event. During the AnswerThon, registered Contributors answer as many questions as possible over 48 hours, sharing their knowledge and competing for prizes. A Charity AnswerThon was held on July 26–27, 2008 and a How-To AnswerThon was held November 8–10, 2008. The AnswerThon has since become a regular event.
WikiAnswers.com Scholarship Fund
On February 2, 2009 Answers Corporation announced the establishment of the WikiAnswers.com Scholarship Fund. The Scholarship, administered for Answers Corporation by The Center for Scholarship Administration, awarded twenty scholarships valued at $1,000 each to students planning to enroll in undergraduate college studies during the 2009–2010 academic year. The scholarship is being reopened in 2010. To qualify for the scholarship, students must answer fifty questions. These answers are then judged by an outside third party for quality and accuracy.
WikiAnswers.com is currently ranked as the largest Q&A site on the web by comScore.
As of August 2013, according to Quantcast, a site that publishes traffic statistics, wiki.answers.com has:
- 137,512,848 different individuals that visited per month (global)
- 72,760,112 different individuals that visited per month (US)
- 998,631,936 global page views per month
- 654,744,832 US page views per month
- 198,470,240 visits per month (global)
- 106,538,128 visits per month (US)
On January 28, 2009, Answers Corporation announced that, according to analysis using comScore data (comScore, US Top 200 Web Domains Report, December 2007 vs. December 2008, ranked by % change), WikiAnswers.com's unique monthly visitor count in the U.S. grew 154%, to nearly 16.5 million. This ranks WikiAnswers.com as the fastest growing domain in 2008, of the top 200 in the U.S., as measured by unique monthly visitors.
- November 2006 – 280,000
- October 2007 - 1,000,000
- March 2008 - 2,000,000
- June 2008 – 3,000,000
- August 2008 - 4,000,000
- February 2009 - 9,000,000
- February 2010 - 20,000,000
- December 2011 - 48,000,000
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