Windows Vista beta testers, living in the US (yes, yet another US only beta), got a little present in their inboxes tonight in the form of a Windows Live QnA invitation. Drawing on the Vista tester database is a clear attempt to build up a lot of good, accurate technical content early on for QnA. The invitation encourages testers to share info about downloads, swap sofware tips, and share their Vista knowledge.
At first glance, QnA is a great concept. The system is very simple:
1. Someone asks a question.
2. Users submit answers to the question throughout a 3 day answering period.
3. Users vote on the best answer and a "winner" is determined. That answer is then accepted as fact.
The results from these questions will be used on Windows Live Search to help simplify searching. The execution of this process on qna.live.com is lacking a little bit. Loading the front page of QnA took about 40 seconds by my watch, during which time IE 7 stopped responding completely. I don't know about everyone else, but for me, 40 seconds is way too long to wait before I can even click something on a webpage. Live.com has also suffered from performance issues, which has largely stifled its growth and impaired its ability to explode into mass use. Although, I'm sure that the performance issues will be addressed and fixed, this is essential to the success of QnA. To contend with competitors such as the already established Yahoo Answers, the site needs to work flawlessly. If you can get past the slowness of the site, the concept is there and it works. I look forward to watching QnA develop and improve since the idea is sound and the service has great potential.
Click to Enlarge