AskMeGo is a recently launched company that aims to engage website visitors with their live Q&A toolbar. However, their plans go much further than the toolbar. AskMeGo enables publishers and their users to tap into a "distributed knowledge network." Anyone can ask a question through the toolbar and get paired with an self-proclaimed expert in that topic for a live one to one chat, all within the toolbar. If an expert can't be found to answer the question, the question will be posted and others can answer.
AskMeGo also ties into instant messaging services (as to be expected from a company founded by people from the Yahoo! Messenger team) to alert users when an expert they're looking for goes online. Furthermore, questions and answers as well as chats are logged on their site, making it easy for people to browse through past questions. All of this is accessible from their homepage.
That's enough with the explanation. What do I actually think about AskMeGo after testing them for a while?
I've never used a website toolbar add-on before so it was interesting to see how user interaction would change. First off, I was impressed that it was even being used by my users at all and much more that people were asking legitimate, substantive questions like...
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Due to AskMeGo's "distributed knowledge network", it's not just the website publisher's users that interact with the toolbar - it's every publishers' users that align with the topics you have selected to cover on your site. I'm still up in the air about this. I really think it would be neat to just have my audience use the toolbar, as a per-site thing, to facilitate niche technical conversations amongst readers rather than having it being tied to every other tech publisher using it, which introduces a bit of "noise" with those people asking questions like "i broke my macbook charger, where can i get another." However, for smaller publishers it makes sense to have the toolbar tie into the larger network.
Since putting the toolbar on my site recently (and also about a month ago when I was testing another version of AskMeGo), I have received a few emails about how the toolbar obstructs the website a bit and almost demands more attention than the website itself, a bad thing for publishers. While I think that may be a large part of why AskMeGo works well, I would like to see an alternate version that has a certain feedback button that on click or on hover expands to show the entire toolbar.
What do you think about this style of live Q&A?
Disclosure: AskMeGo asked me to beta test their service for them, and as a courtesy I wrote this post to help describe some of my thoughts on their service.