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Google Answers Ends Its Run

If you have a question for Google Answers, you better hurry up and ask it. Later this week, Google will shut down the service, which allowed people to pose questions, for a fee, in the hopes of getting the perfect answer.

The company has no plans to replace Google Answers directly, but believes "there is value in enabling people to help others in answering their questions," according to a company spokeswoman.

"While many people used and valued Google Answers, Google had reached a point with the product to recognize there may be a better way to meet these individuals' needs," the company said in a statement to internetnews.com.

The decision to eliminate Google Answers is a response to competing services offered by Yahoo and MSN, Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said. Unlike MSN and Yahoo , Google charged users. Paying for answers enabled high-quality responses, the company argued.

In a blog post, Google explained the Answers service was an experiment. "Sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product," according to the official blog.

Lessons learned from Google Answers will be used in future services, such as Google Custom Search Engine, which allows people to create customized search engines.

Google Answers began as a concept from co-founder Larry Page with help from a four-person development team. That group grew to 800 and spanned more than four years.

Last year, Google's search chief admitted the Answers service, which used an algorithm instead of a human, answered some queries more deftly than others.

For instance, as internetnews.com reported at the time, while questions about a country's population were easily handled, asking "What is the capital of France?" brought answers including "Investment Capital and Banking in France."

Although the service has met its end, the answers that have been posted will still be available.