The UX of Q&A websites

I used to use Experts-Exchange alot.  I really liked it and racked up a bunch of points.  I could answer people’s questions and get instant positive karma (and points).  It was a fun activity and it felt morally rewarding.  I started in 2003 and sort of faded out on it over time.  Then, in mid 2006, I moved to helping people on the jQuery mailing list.  Again, super rewarding.  I really felt i was helping people in a significant way.  (Well, not compared to the peace corps, but still I felt good)

Lately, I have not been answering many questions online.  I think it’s because I have been focusing on UX more than CSS/HTML/JS/jQuery and Sys Admin.  jQuery questions are pretty straight-forward.  I haven’t seen a “Ask a UX question” site.  I would answer there! 🙂  We answer questions that are close to home.

I noticed this new site called StackOverflow.  It has an excellent experience design, but I worry about it’s scalability.  Experts-Exchange does a good job of organizing things so it’s not overwhelming. I think the use of tags in StackOverflow will not scale.  It’s got 31,000 questions already.  One giant list for programming questions can get old pretty fast.  I just did a check on Experts-Exchange and still feel that the experience is pretty good.

There are many things I like about StackOverflow that EE could probably adopt.  The idea that you can vote UP or DOWN on a post is really interesting.  It spreads the wealth around.  I like the democracy of it.  Plus there are many small ajax-y touches that make the user interface seem modern.  Lastly, the visual design is clean without alot of clutter.  Perfect for the programming community.  Big fonts too.

Answering questions is alot of fun, but there are so many sites that do it in so many ways.

  • Google Answers shut down.  Interesting article explaining why.
  • UClue.  First i have ever seen it. Not nearly as nice as StackOverflow or EE.
  • Yahoo Answers.  I haven’t spent much time here, but the UI looks compelling.  It looks like there is some organization, but the topics are SO wide.  Travel to c#.  I think that is too general for me.  I like it to have a little more focus.  This is sort of like the trivial pursuit of websites.

I am having trouble finding more sites that do this.

Whatya think?