For a while, I went rampaging around the internet looking for exclusive betas I could sign myself up for. One such site was “www.vark.com,” which was something like Yahoo Answers, but operated through your IM client. I signed up for the beta, and never heard another word.
Two or three months later, I found out that the site had been bought by Google, and that registration was now open to the public. Hmm. So, I gave it a shot. Aardvark is a self-defined social search engine, helping you find people rather than web pages. The site is really, really simple. There are two tabs; one for “Ask” and one for “Answer.” To ask a question, simply type it in the big huge “Ask” box, and wait a little for an answer. For most questions, answers come in a few minutes. For some more obscure ones, answers come in a day or two. I’ve honestly yet to have a question successfully answered.
The other tab, the “Answers” tab, allows you to answer other people’s questions quickly and easily. I thought, “Why would I want to do that?” But, sure enough, answering is so quick and easy, I found myself answering more questions than I asked, in no time at all (Heh, just checking now, I’ve answered 62 questions and have asked 5). You are sent specific questions that fits a self-selected list of interests, although you can still view random questions, in sets of 15, just to see what people are asking.
If you can’t answer a question, but know someone who can, you can refer the question to a friend via email, or via Facebook, if you choose to connect your Vark account with your Facebook account (which is as easy as a click). They really make it easy.
Now, what’s this about IM?
Oh yeah, I totally forgot. Aardvark is different in that it can also operate through your IM client. Remember those totally useless AIM chat bots for when you were bored or had no friends (sob)?Well, Aardvark is a lot like those, except actually useful. When there’s a question that you might be able to answer, it sends you an IM asking you if you are interested. You can answer it directly via IM, send follow-up messages, add topics, or even browse through questions you might be able to answer, all while within chat. I’d be willing to say that the IM interface has almost all the functionality of vark.com in some way, shape, or form.
Check it out. It’s been really helpful to me, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Besides, Google bought it, so it can’t be that bad, right?