Predictors of answer quality in online Q&A sites

F. Maxwell Harper, Daphne Raban, Sheizaf Rafaeli, Joseph A. Konstan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

333 Scopus citations


Question and answer (Q&A) sites such as Yahoo! Answers are places where users ask questions and others answer them. In this paper, we investigate predictors of answer quality through a comparative, controlled field study of responses provided across several online Q&A sites. Along with several quantitative results concerning the effects of factors such as question topic and rhetorical strategy, we present two high-level messages. First, you get what you pay for in Q&A sites. Answer quality was typically higher in Google Answers (a fee-based site) than in the free sites we studied, and paying more money for an answer led to better outcomes. Second, we find that a Q&A site's community of users contributes to its success. Yahoo! Answers, a Q&A site where anybody can answer questions, outperformed sites that depend on specific individuals to answer questions, such as library reference services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication26th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Conference Proceedings, CHI 2008
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2008
Event26th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2008 - Florence, Italy
Duration: Apr 5 2008Apr 10 2008

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Other26th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2008


  • Digital reference
  • Expert services
  • Information exchanges
  • Information quality
  • Knowledge networks
  • Online community
  • Q&A


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