Aardvark (http://vark.com) is a social networking site for asking and answering questions. When a user asks a question, the site directs the question to someone who has expertise in that area. All communication is handled via instant messaging and/or email. The site will try to use instant messaging first, and if unavailable will use email. Users are given prompts in their IM client as to how to followup on questions or try to answer a question for someone else. Users give their areas of expertise when they sign up for the site, and questions are directed to them based on the areas given.
Users have a profile on the site and can have Friends. The site will import the users Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, MSN/Live Mail or AOL contacts as Friends. Users can also invite friends via email. The home page of the site features a large text box for sending a question, and users can answer questions by typing “try” in their IM dialog with the Aardvark site. The user will then be presented with a question in their area of expertise. The home page also shows an activity stream of recent questions that were answered. Users can also view their History, which shows questions they've asked and questions they've answered. The site also offers an iPhone app that provides an interface to the site for asking and answering questions.Show more screenshots »
San Francisco-based Aardvark was founded in late 2007 by Max Ventilla, Damon Horowitz, Nathan Stoll and Rob Spiro. The site was launched to the public in October 2009 after an extended beta period. Aardvark was acquired by Google in February 2010. Aardvark was shut down in September 2011. Google wanted to focus on their new social network Google+.
Competition to Aardvark comes from sites such as Fluther and Answerbag. Both of these sites offer a service similar to Aardvark, but Fluther does not direct questions to experts – any question can be answered by any member. Answerbag allows you to search for experts in a given area and ask them a question. Aardvark is the only site that automatically directs the user's questions to the proper experts, and the only site to use IM as the vehicle for asking and answering questions.
The instant messaging of questions and answers operated seamlessly, and answers to many questions were obtained in a minute or less. There is no advertising displayed on the Aardvark site.
Registration to Aardvark is free and is required to ask or answer questions on the site. Users can use Facebook Connect as their login or create a new profile. The registration process asks for first and last name, birthdate, gender, city and country, IM account ID and email address. Validation of the email address is not required. The user is asked to confirm the addition of the Aardvark site to their buddies list.
Registration is free, there is no premium membership to the Aardvark site offered.
Aardvark is recommended to anyone needing an answer to a question from someone with expertise in that area. It is also recommended to those wishing to share their expertise in the areas they are knowledgeable in. Questions are answered surprisingly quickly on the site, and the user can request another answer if they wish. Using IM as the vehicle for asking and answering questions streamlines the process – it is easier than submitting questions and answers to a website in a browser.