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Target User Group

Individuals who have any sort of query they would like answered. These people generally have questions that were not answered by a search engine query response or an encyclopedia lookup, or possibly did not have time to use either of these services, though this is unlikely. These individuals may also be in a state of distress and be unable to form an effective search query.

Problem Description

The problem is that people sometimes have questions that are not amenable to referencing in an encyclopaedia or search engine. These questions may be too specific, too general, or the users may not know the common phrasing of such questions. There are a variety of technical solutions that could improve this aspect. Also, often times query-makers have trouble understanding or sifting through results, especially if they are unskilled in the user of information gathering tools. This too could be improved. A student doing homework might face this problem, as well as an individual reading an article or anything that can be read for that matter. It might occur when a tourist is unable to find information about a particular site, or simply wants to know more. It may even face people in emergency situations.

Problem Context and Forces

Aspects that of the situation that influence the solution are: time between query and response, variety of responses desired, and how reliable the information must be. The users have already been considered in the previous sections. A similar solution for the web is Yahoo Answers.

Solution Sketch

The solution is a service by which users may ask questions and other users may answer them.

  • A user asks a question, and either the question is automatically tagged by the program, the user tags it with certain labels, or both
  • A user may specify what level of skill they have in certain areas.
    • This would produce a long setup time, but the target demographic would likely tolerate it.
  • These individuals are only sent questions relating to their fields of strength. Of course, they aren't sent all the queries that are made.
    • The frequency with which queries are sent to them is user-adjustable.
  • After a user makes a query, an awaiting answers screen appears, in which answers sorted by skill levels are placed into a list.
    • The query-maker may select one, read it, and choose to engage in chat with the answerer. Of course, the answerer may select an option where they do not allow such contact.

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