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ChaCha Guides Have Their Say, Loudly

In case you haven't read the ton of comments on the story I wrote yesterday on the <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/search/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=209903433">mobile search service ChaCha</a>, I am giving them some added prominence here.

Richard Martin

August 6, 2008

2 Min Read

In case you haven't read the ton of comments on the story I wrote yesterday on the mobile search service ChaCha, I am giving them some added prominence here.As I wrote in the story, "'Human-powered search' provider ChaCha has cut the standard pay rate of its online 'guides' and shifted to a performance-based compensation system." ChaCha will continue to pay its top-performing guides (who answer voice and text queries from users, in real time) 20 cents per answer; lesser performers will get a dime.

There are now three dozen or so comments on the story (and counting), the majority of which are from disgruntled ChaCha guides.

A sampling:

"If ChaCha wasn't a Company for Profit and if ChaCha was just another Social Network, what [CEO] Brad [Bostic] said may be true but to the contrary. We Guides are Independent Contractors and as Independent Contractors we are in a large part, in it for the money."

"I for one will no longer continue as a guide and I fear many others will join me. $.10 per question answered is a joke."

"This desperate move just proves the flawed business model ChaCha is using. Bostic says ChaCha is getting 'tens of Millions' of questions each month. As a guide, I know half of them are teenage boys asking about sex and teenage girls asking whether little Billy likes little Mary!"

To be sure, there are dissenters who still enthusiastically back Bostic's plans for ChaCha and its guide community: "Personally, I think this program is a GREAT idea, and it's what's best for the company. There are so many guides who care only about making that $.20 per question that they don't take the time to give correct answers. This will put a stop to that and our customers will get the service that they deserve."

In sum, however, it's clear that the compensation change has angered a significant portion of ChaCha's 20,000 or so guides, at least the ones posting comments online, and that it's a risky move given that the company's business model depends on reliable, accurate, and committed answerers. It will be interesting to see if ChaCha can survive this onslaught of bad feelings.

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