About Gets Human Voice with Keen.com’s Technology

About Inc. Wednesday sealed a strategic partnership with Keen.com to integrate that company’s live answer technology with About’s site.

About, which has tagged itself The Human Internet because it gives users the ability to interact live with “guides” and “experts” on a multitude of subjects through e-mail and chat, will grow an even more human face — or more precisely voice — through the deal. Keen.com offers a service similar to About’s but enables the interaction through the telephone.

Through About’s network, users can get help with a tax form or troubleshoot a computer problem, even find out the latest dish on soap operas, by asking a real person through e-mail and now by phone.

“The immediacy of getting questions answered over the phone makes Keen.com’s Live Answer Community a perfect complement for About,” said Scott Kurnit, chairman and chief executive officer of About. “We are the Human Internet and now our users can interact with out Guides and Experts on a more personal level. We’ve built the premier network for facilitating topic specific information on thousands of subjects and this partnership is another example of our ability to bring users the information they need, when they need it and the way they want it.”

About’s guides are independent contractors and will not be required to participate in Keen’s Live Answer Community. They will be able to set their own per-minute fees and set their schedules of availability while Keen.com takes a commission on their fees. Additionally, About will integrate links to Keen.com’s KeenSpeakers, users who have made themselves available on Keen.com to provide answers for a per-minute fee.

Keen.com uses a consumer-based rating system and credential verification service for quality assurance.

Keen.com will actually place the calls when an About.com user clicks on the “Call Now” icon integrated with a guide or expert’s About.com page. About said that because Keen.com places the calls, users’ phone numbers and other personal information are never revealed.

“I think this is really geared towards a whole new concept of making the Internet more personal,” said Tabatha Sturm, director of Communications at About.

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