Using the internet on your phone follows a question and answer mechanic. You ask a question to a search engine and it returns a list of answers. While search engines are getting better everyday when it comes to understanding context, they still are not very accurate when it comes to simple questions that you might encounter in your day to day life. One way to tackle this would be to make machine learning advanced and accurate.
The other way would be to use humans directly to power a search engine. There are many services online which already have been working on crowdsourcing answers and knowledge. Some of them are very popular like Quora, Ask.FM, etc. But can there be a way for people to use this kind of crowdsourced knowledge in an easier way keeping in mind the highly mobile nature of our Internet usage.
It seems there is. Quest is a new mobile question and answer app which seeks to help users connect to each other through knowledge. This is what’s being called Knowledge Messaging. Quest is available currently on Android and will be coming soon to iOS.
The premise of the app is very simple. You get a steady stream of questions that people on the app are asking and you can choose to answer them and thus help them out. In essence, the app is very similar to Jelly, another Q&A app that was launched a few weeks ago.
Quest sports a very modern design implementation. It has a slick flat interface and the app flow is smooth when it comes to usage. The app has very few core features and the minimal design makes a lot of sense.
When you sign up, the app verifies your phone number by automatically detecting the SMS it sends to your phone. You have to key in your name and add your preferences tags. Preferences can be anything like Sports, Food, Technology, etc. You will be asked to add at least 3 of these tags. Once you are done with this, your inbox will populate with questions being asked with those tags. When you ask a question, the app asks you to tag your question with the relevant category. You can also attach images to provide further context in addition to adding your location information. Furthermore, you can also direct your question to specific users in the network.
The app has 3 core sections:
1. Inbox: The Inbox is a feed where questions pertaining to your interests will appear. Glancing at the feed you can immediately tell what category a question belongs to, which location it is originating from and how many answers it has got.
2. Explore: This section is interesting because it overlays the questions on a Google Map, thus making it easier for you to search for interesting queries in and around your area, or in any location for that matter. These questions get overlayed on the map if someone geotags their questions.
3. Leaderboard: The leaderboard will show how you fare in the community of Questers. I am supposing this has something to do with the points you gain when you answer a question, something similar to Reddit’s Karma system. However, I could not actually see how it works for myself, since the app returned a blank screen. This attempt at gamification is a good thing because it will give users an incentive to answer more questions and thus have a standing in the community.
Can the app be better?
While I was using the app, I did notice some activity on the app but it was not much. Maybe it has got to do with the categories I chose and the fact that this app has only launched recently and will take time to gain traction among users. Many queries seem to be originating from Bangalore.
I think Quest is a good app and can serve an important role today if used well and if it gets more users. It is comforting to get your answers from another human instead of an algorithm. One disadvantage about using Quest would be that you would have to wait till someone sees your questions and replies to it. This could be difficult to get used to, due to our affinity for instant gratification. Another one would be the uncertainty about whether the answers provided by the users were accurate. I guess the app could introduce a system of votes to show a user which answers were more likely to be correct or relevant.
You should give it a try. Grab it on the Play Store and let us know what you think of it.