Fluther: A fun, jellyfish-themed Q&A service

Got a question? Try out Fluther, a new community Q&A site. Oh, and if you're wondering what that name means, it's the technical term for a group of jellyfish.

Fluther is a social question and answer site. Like similar services, it gives people a place to ask and answer questions amid a community of users. Fluther has taken this idea and given it an interesting twist, in adding a built-in tracking service. This service keeps track of your activity on the site and will let you monitor questions you've asked or answered in real time. The service also promises to direct questions toward so-called experts once they've successfully answered several questions in a certain topic or area of interest.

Oh, and if you're wondering what that name means, it's the technical term for a group of jellyfish. And for the pronunciation aficionados out there, it rhymes with "brother."

One of the more interesting tools on Fluther is the question browser, which displays question topics in a large tag cloud. Users enter these topics when adding their questions, and the larger tags indicate more questions in that topic. When viewing a question, you can also see related questions, which Fluther calls "siblings."

Fluther users can ask questions that can get answered by others in the Fluther community. The answers are displayed chronologically. CNET Networks

To maintain a community feel, Fluther has implemented a fairly straightforward prestige system. You get points for continuing to use the site, as well as for the way others value your questions and answers. You can rank a question or answer, and if you come across one you feel is inaccurate or off-topic, you can also flag it. All of this gets displayed in your profile, and as a star rating under your name.

Fluther joins several other Q&A sites out there. Three of the more popular ones are Yahoo Answers, Microsoft's QnA, and Ask Metafilter. All three keep track of user interaction and participation, although Fluther's intimate feel is what attracted me to it in the first place.

The one thing that irks me about these services is that as they grow, questions and answers often get lost in the shuffle. Likewise, you're bound to see duplicates, spam, and a lack of educated answers. While the prestige system can help users self-enforce this, ultimately it's up to the creators to moderate and create tools that can empower responsible and trustworthy users.

[via Biz Stone:Genius]

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Software
About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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