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Google drops answers

Q falls out with A

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Google has decided to close its answers service after four years in operation.

From the end of this week it will no longer respond to questions submitted to the Google Answers site.

The project started as a “rough idea” by Google founder Larry Page.

A team of more than 800 people regularly contributed on a diverse range of topics requested by users who would set a price between $2 and $200 for a correct answer. Contributors would then pick up 75 per cent of the fee.

Questions submitted ranged from whether animal bone ash is used as a filtering process in sugar (yes), to can you get a suntan or sunburn through glass? (yes, but it takes longer apparently).

Explaining the decision to close the Google Answers site a statement on the official Google blog said: “Google is a company fuelled by innovation, which to us means trying lots of new things all the time - and sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product.”

It said: “Google Answers was a great experiment which provided us with a lot of material for developing future products to serve our users.

“We'll continue to look for new ways to improve the search experience and to connect people to the information they want.”

But some users of the site have been venting their frustration that Google is ending its Q&A service and a petition is currently doing the rounds in a last-ditch attempt to reverse the decision.

A Google spokesperson told El Reg that the decision to close Google Answers was not motivated by financial concerns but that the site had simply served its purpose and that it was time to move on.

He added, “we don’t have an awful lot to say other than that really.”

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