While looking for unusual Google URLs I found a curious little Google project which has, until now, failed to grab my attention. Essentially Baraza is a knowledge market packed in a Q&A community, driven by a point system.
“Baraza is a free service that enable users to get their questions answered by the community. We believe that Baraza increases the availability of information, encourages collaboration and makes possible new connections between people. We want to provide the community with the best experience and encourage high-quality questions and answers. The suggested use that we have defined serves to enhance the service as a whole.”
From Baraza’s Community Guidelines: http://www.google.com/baraza/en/help?file=CommunityGuidelines
Whether it’s an incarnation of Knol, Aardvark, Google Answers or something else it’s hard to say. It’s confusing enough to see that Russians have their own version called Otvety. There’s also Wenda in China and Guru in Thailand (thanks Pe lagic).
According to Greg Koladonato, Product Manager (Mountain View, USA) the first version of Google’s Q&A programme seems to have been launched in Russia:
“Today we are launching the beta version of “Questions and Answers” . This new service is Google, where you can ask a difficult question for you on an interesting topic and get answers from other users, but you can still earn points, responding to other people’s questions. Or just chat with smart people :). We are especially pleased to announce that Russia – the first country in the world where we run this service, it is not yet available even English speakers. Each question necessarily supplied label to make it easier to find in the future. Responding to various questions, you gain points and gradually become an expert in a particular field. You get more points if your answers are considered the best. We want to thanks to “Questions and Answers” search for information on the most complex issues become easier and more interesting.”
Translated from http://googlerussiablog.blogspot.com.au/2007/06/google.html
Language settings and user base indicates that Baraza might be targeted at South African community specifically.
If you’re logged in as a Google user then access to Baraza is just a click away. Updating your profile is a fairly straightforward process as the community seems to be fully integrated with Google+ already. Prior to any customisation users see the following profile set-up:
Once you click on the “Preview your new look profile” a lightbox style prompt pops up showing the profile preview with user image and points. The prompt also warns that merge with Google+ is permanent.
All that’s left to do is to hit “Update profile” and it’s all done. Here’s how a completed/merged profile looks like:
The biography is taken from the Google+ profile and fused together with Baraza’s own activity metrics:
I quite like the whole transparency with the points system, there’s even a page which discloses how many points you earned ranging from following others and voting for answers to asking your own questions.
- +2 You’ve posted an answer.
- +1 You’ve rated an answer.
- +1 You are now following a new user’s activity.
- +4 You’ve earned the daily login bonus.
- +20 You’ve earned the initial sign-up bonus.
- Questions overview contains three sections: My Questions, Starred and Others asked me.
- Answers overview lists all answers with a title, subject and date.
- Reputation breaks down into: Levels, Points History, Reputation History, Badges
- Subscriptions features: Label Subscriptions, People I follow, People following me
- Messages: Received / Sent
- Notifications show description and date.
So here’s Baraza in action. In the screenshot below you can see me answer a question:
Note the continued incentive for community engagement (e.g. 10 points best answer reward). Now if you pay close attention to the answer input area you will see that it closely resembles Google+ post interface with the addition of the search icon (normally tucked away on Google+) and absence of the events icon. Google+ text formatting doesn’t work.
One final feature I quite liked was topic sorting by “Priority” and “Rank”. The screenshot below shows topics sorted by number of questions asked:
Whether this is an experiment to be merged with Google+ or a standalone test-bed for features and ideas, it’s hard to say – but here it is, busy, lively community running in parallel with Google+.
I wonder what else is out there…?
Links & References
Google’s Newest Q&A Service: “baraza”
What is Google Baraza?