WikiAnswers / FAQ Farm
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WikiAnswers is a collaborative question and answer website.
It was started in 2002 under the name “FAQ Farm: the question and answer co-op” by Chris Whitten. who is also the creator of this WikiTree site.
FAQ Farm was designed to enable anyone to post a question about anything. Then other users of the site could post answers. The questions and answers would be organized and stored in case future visitors had the same question or could contribute another answer. Over time, the Q As organically grew into FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and answers and became free information resources for anyone to use.
In 2004, the wiki software made popular by Wikipedia was customized for FAQ Farm. The basic Q A was still the same. But the new wiki technology made user collaboration much easier. Now you could edit and improve upon answers instead of just adding additional responses to a question. The site began to be known as “WikiFAQs” or “WikiAnswers.”
FAQ Farm continued to grow and improve over the years. By 2006 many other question and answer websites had emerged. The most famous was Yahoo Answers, which helped legitimize user-generated Q A for millions of people.
In late 2006, Chris Whitten approached Answers.com about purchasing WikiAnswers from him. It had become too large for one person to manage. In order to keep growing WikiAnswers would need a larger operation behind it, but Chris was not interested in growing his own company since he likes to work independently.
Thanks largely to the efforts of Answers.com’s Bruce Smith. the company acquired FAQ Farm on November 1, 2006. For the next year Chris Whitten managed WikiAnswers as an employee of Answers.com.
In March 2007 a major redesign of WikiAnswers was released. This completed the transition from the name “FAQ Farm” to the name “WikiAnswers”.
WikiAnswers traffic and usage exploded in 2007. According to comScore it was the fastest growing website among the largest 1,500 US sites. It was the fastest growing large US website again in 2008.
Answers.com gets close to 100 million unique visitors worldwide, the overwhelming majority of those visitors going to WikiAnswers.
WikiAnswers now hosts over 11 million answered questions.
FAQ Farmers/WikiAnswers users on WikiTree
March 2009 – 10,000,000 questions milestone.
February 2009 – 9,000,000 questions milestone.
January 2009 – 8,000,000 questions milestone.
August 2008 – 4,000,000 questions milestone.
July 2008 – First ever Charity AnswerThon event (inspired by Supervisor Aggie80’s daughter), an organized online event on WikiAnswers.com designed to foster the sharing of knowledge while supporting worthwhile international causes. 1st Place – The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society ($5,000); 2nd Place – ArtWorks Foundation – ($1,500); and 3rd Place – Caring Bridge ($500)
March 2008 – 2,000,000 questions milestone.
March 2008 – First ever AnswerThon (a concept lovingly created by Crystal Williams), a contest in which participants had 48 hours to answer as many questions as possible. First place Aggie80, second Steven Keyman and third Zanbabe.
January 2008 – First annual WAmmy awards held to honor excellence in contributing to WikiAnswers. Joe Hepperle wins “Answer of the Year” for his answer to “How do you know when a man is serious about you?”
December 2007 – 2007 Year in Review published 2007 Year in Review published.
October 2007 – Chris Whitten steps away to work on WikiTree.com.
October 2007 – 1,000,000 questions milestone.
April 2007 – Release of major WikiAnswers redesign.
November 2006 – Sale to Answers Corp.
August 2006 – 250,000 questions milestone. Helped sponsor WikiMania 2006.
July 2006 – Changed the tagline to “The Wiki Answers Community”.
May 2006 – Added question discussion pages, the first free space for user interaction.
April 2006 – 200,000 questions milestone.
December 2005 – 150,000 questions milestone.
January 2006 – Added ability to manually edit alternate wordings lists. Major changes to page design.
November 2005(?) – Added featured questions list to home page. Added advanced search options.
October 2005 – Added merge-questions function.
July 2005 – 100,000 questions milestone.
January 2005 – All remaining FAQ Farm content imported into Wiki FAQs. Name change debated in the community.
October 2004 – Start of Wiki FAQs beta testing, beginning with a few topics such as Pregnancy.
June 2004 – Registration of WikiAnswers.com and WikiFAQs.com.
December 2003 – Begin planning of Wiki FAQs.
September 2002 – Basic Q A forums go online.
Fall 2002 – First Q A goes live.
Summer 2002 – Site under construction.
I remember when I first started editing questions for FAQ Farm, there was one very nasty vandal who I immediately blocked. I didn’t realize that the vandal was an AOL user, and apparently AOL users share IP addresses. By blocking this person’s IP address, I blocked tons of AOL users from FAQ Farm. Chris sent me an email that very nicely said, “Don’t do that again.” 🙂
So not in the ‘wiki’ spirit, when I was first invited to the site to Supervise the Business Plans category – I thought it was my job to write great answers and then protect the Q As so that no one else could edit or touch them. No. Not the wiki way, which Chris so gently explained an e-mail to me the next day (after I protected hundreds of Q As). 😉
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