ChaCha is a search engine that gives users answers to questions. The application presents the user with a search box that lets them ask any question they can come up with. The result pages provide a single answer. Below the answer, the user is presented with a list of related questions, quizzes, topics and galleries. Some inquiries generate humorous responses (such as “What is my middle name?”). A handful of category options is listed along the left side and lets users jump to topics in lifestyle, culture, politics, sports, travel, health, business, science and technology. Users can also respond to the answer ChaCha provided by clicking either the “Get Updated Answer” button or the red “This Answer Wasn’t Helpful” button. The site also welcomes new users who want to provide answers for the community.
ChaCha was founded in December of 2005 by Scott Jones and Brad Bostic. The website has a lot of potential however its hiring end has encountered controversy. ChaCha hires people online to work as guides, who answer text questions and receive payments for doing so. Users must earn at least $100 to receive a payout. On multiple occasions, users have complained that they followed the required guidelines and never received payment. Posts have been made on sites like ComplaintsBoard.com. While some defend ChaCha and insist that they have been paid, others continue to encounter issues. Some are simply discouraged because they must meet the $100 minimum (which pans out to about 5,000 to 10,000 questions answered) just to be paid.
ChaCha provides users with a unique way to get answers and find more resources related to their questions. The website provides an answer as well as a list of other resources, sorted by type. Users can visit ChaCha as a starting point for research on a topic or to learn more about an activity, issue or event. The website works just like a search engine, however it also employs real people to supply answers to its user community.
The ChaCha website is decently organized, with each search result listed neatly in a box. The downside is that the site was clearly designed to maximize profits. Advertisements are squeezed in almost everywhere. These range from sponsored text links to full blown banners and video advertisements. These are generally tucked into the sides, but make it confusing to decipher what is actual content and what is just there to earn ChaCha a few bucks.
Users are not required to register to ask questions or browse ChaCha. Those who want to access all features can visit the top, right hand corner of the homepage. A list of icons are available that provide many third party login options. Users can sign in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Windows Live, FourSquare, AOL, My Space, Blogger, WordPress, Orkut, Type Journal, LivePad, Hyves, VeriSign, OpenID and RenRen. A blue “Sign Up” link is available above the icons as well. The registration form requires a username, email address and password.
ChaCha is available to all users for free. There are no subscription fees or other charges required. The application is essentially a search engine with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Charging users a fee would essentially be like hanging a sign on ChaCha’s homepage asking them to go to one of the many free resources already popular on the web. Users who become guides can earn 10 to 20 cents per question answered; however there is no guarantee that a payout will be made based on some user’s experiences.
ChaCha is ideal for users who want to find a quick answer to a question. Users can ask any questions they want or browse the categories presented on the homepage. ChaCha also offers entertainment value to anyone who has a few minutes they want to spend browsing the web. The site makes a good starting point to find information, however should be used as a supplemental tool for more involved research endeavors.