Wondir - A Real Time Q&A Service
Wondir is designed to help people find practical, focused answers to questions, with an emphasis on connecting people who have questions with other people who can provide needed help. These experts, tutors, mentors, enthusiasts, and peers might be volunteering on their own or as part of an organized online help program, such as an AskA service, government or social service, corporation, civic group, professional association, university, school or library.There is no fee for the service. I submitted a general question about open access journals, and received a response within 10 minutes, which had some information that would provide some help to a novice user. In addition, when you ask a question, Wondir checks for related questions with answers, and web resources which might be useful. The related question to my query was about the Open Directory project, and among the web resources returned was SciCentral, whose homepage includes a link to "Journals", which in turn has a list of resources for "Free Full-Text Online Journals."
In addition to live resources, Wondir utilizes FAQs, stored Q&As and other searchable web resources. Relevant human resources are integrated into the results and featured.
We think of Wondir as the blending of a universal search engine and a universal message board enlivened with real time communication. Wondir is uniting Search and Community - two pillars of the Internet that have not yet lived up to their potential - by making human help accessible and as simple as asking a question of a search engine.
John Battelle comments on Wondir, noting that the site is answering 6-7,000 questions a day, and recently answered its one millionth question. The quality of the questions submitted seem to range from good to bad, or rather, serious to silly. I'm not sure how Wondir handles questions like, "is there any computer experts out there?", "what do dolphins drink?", or "why did the Flames lose the Stanley Cup to Tampa?"; many questions like this seem to be ignored by the respondents. Users of Wondir can change the "View" from "Mild" to "Wild". The "Mild" setting allows users "to choose a view that presents questions that are unlikely to be annoying or offensive to anyone."
Another way to submit or search is by Category, which eliminates peripheral and unrelated questions. Categories of interest to STM librarians include Computers, Science & Tech and Education, Homework & Reference. Librarians will be interested in Wondir because in effect, it is a form of reference service, available to anyone. I'd be curious to know if others have used Wondir, and what opinions scitech librarians have as to its potential use in our work.