Google: What’s it Worth to You?

After six months of testing, Google this morning publicly launched a new paid search service to help users who don’t have the tech savvy or time to perform Web searches of their own.

Google Answers is the Mountain View, Calif., company’s latest effort to differentiate itself in a crowded field and find new revenue sources. Other moves include a foray into
corporate search and the introduction of a news aggregation service.

A Google spokesman was not immediately available for comment. Previously, the company said it had received numerous requests for such a service.

Here’s how Google Answers works. Users open an account and pay a non-refundable 50 cent fee for each question. They then specify how much they are willing to spend for an answer (between $2 and $200 is suggested, depending on complexity) and how quickly the information is needed. A caveat, if researchers don’t believe the price is worth their time, the query could go unanswered.

From there, the question is funneled to one of 500 Google Answers researchers who perform a Web search and post an answer, as well as related links, at the Google Answers site. If satisfied, the users’ credit card is charged. Refunds are offered for those unhappy with the results.

The question is also published on the Google Answers site so other registered users can add their comments. Users who provide comments are not be paid for their posts.

Three-quarters of the fee goes directly to the researcher who answers your question; the other 25 percent is used by Google to support the service.

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