Jyve puts users in charge of answering search queries

Can’t find it on Google? There are many alternatives to the world’s most popular search tool, but a newly created Web site called Jyve offers an approach that acts like an online chat room instead of a typical search engine.

Can’t find it on Google? There are many alternatives to the world’s most popular search tool, but a newly created Web site called Jyve offers an approach that acts like an online chat room instead of a typical search engine.

Jyve users ask questions and receive answers from other users, usually within seconds. It’s like a cross between Wikipedia and Ask Jeeves (now known simply as Ask.com).

Jyve is best at distributing information of the “how-to” variety, the type of knowledge that is stored in people’s heads but often not available on the Web, says Charles Carleton, founder and CEO of Jyve.

“It complements what Google does,” Carleton says. “If you’re looking for the capital of Zimbabwe, Google is a better place to go. But if you’re trying to find which laptop to buy or you want to buy a high-definition television,” you can ask the users on Jyve.

Jyve, which began as a Skype plug-in, linking users with VoIP technology, went live as a Web site about two months ago. Company officials were trying to slide under the media radar until today, when they announced the launching of the site.

When someone asks a question on Jyve, notices are sent to the desktops of logged-in members who have identified themselves as knowledgeable in the topic. But anyone can answer a question, and Jyve’s filters are unable to prevent some of the sillier questions that make it onto the Web site. Questions asked by users today include “what is poo?” “how do I call you?” and “are you just looking up the answers to these questions on Google?”

Other Jyve visitors used the site today to learn useful information, such as how to back up a Mac and how to change the transmission fluid in a car.

“We tell people we’re like a live Wikipedia,” Carleton says.

Users will be rated by other users, so answers from the most knowledgeable ones will eventually be elevated to the top, he says.

Jyve makes money in two ways: with advertising targeted to people based on their queries, and by taking commissions from transactions originating on the Jyve site. For example, one user may pay another for a lesson in a certain topic, and 10% of the money will go to Jyve.

The site may seem like a free-for-all now, but Carleton says the company plans to eventually have moderators who can delete questions that are inappropriate.

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