The History of Questions and Answers Sites

People will always have questions. It’s the nature of the human condition. We love to ask questions and more importantly we love to answer then, maybe it gives us a sense of purpose that we can advise others or maybe we just like to feel a sense of superiority.

Whatever the reason, they have become very popular, and what is Facebook but just a glorified questions and answers site. There are hundreds of such sites that offer expert and amateur solutions to everyday problems. From the mundane like “what can I eat for lunch today?” to life changing questions such as “should I get divorced?”.

Some of these sites are well loved by their followers and are used on a daily basis, some of these early examples of question and answer sites are very bizarre.

One of the first was Forum 2000, a very odd site that claimed to be run by artificial intelligence, although in later years it was recognised as a hoax.

The Hateatron became live on January 15, 2002 at a time when lots of other Q&A sites were springing up. The Hateatron ran on software written by its creator Safiire Arrowny and has gone through different incarnations since its launch. The Hateatron’s main difference was that aside from just fielding questions with its characters, known as “Haters,” it had a forum called the User Owned or UO Forum.

The evolution of this kind of forum was a fluke, and it turned into an extension of the Q&A format. The Haters who answered questions on the front page now sprang to life inside the UO Forum, interacting with the users who had become active in the community. The Hateatron sported a community and readership of over 100 regular users, organized a yearly convention called Hateakon, and answered nearly 5000 questions.

Some time in early 2005, the Q&A portion of the Hateatron was dropped from the front page of the site for unpublicized reasons. The rest of the site has since been decommissioned, although it is still occasionally updated with bizarre messages. Maybe an extreme version of the format but it still cemented the importance of these websites in the public agenda.

One of the largest in the questions and answers sites in the UK is Interestingly or Answerbank covering topics like News, Food, Fashion and Health. Users post as many questions as they like and some posters are posting multiple ties per week. Subscribers are encouraged to answer multiple posts and plenty of the questions on their have more than one answer.

If you have not already tried out one of these sites, they can be very interesting and informative so why not give one a go?


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