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AQA2U: Cash for questions

AQA2U allows you to broadcast short updates to an audience of followers. Sound familiar? The downside is it's based around texting, but the upside is a big one: you get paid

SMS-based questionmaster AQA has come up with the crazy idea of -- whisper it -- making money from microblogging! Well, microblogging for people who don't know what microblogging is, anyway. AQA2U allows you to broadcast regular texts on a particular subject to paying subscribers, earning shekels for both you and AQA.

It's free to become a publisher. Once you've picked your keyword and stuck 2U on the end -- ROMANCE2U, WORD2DAY2U, for example -- AQA reckons you'll be good to go within two hours. You then send 151-character updates -- tweets, basically -- for which you'll earn 7p per text sent. You can send up to 14 messages per month.

If you're subscribing you'll pay 98p to sign up, then 25p per text you receive. There's a cap of £3.50-worth of texts per month, not counting the sign-up charge.

A directory of services includes news, jokes and gossip, and quirkier ideas such as famous deaths and quotable insults. Spot something you're interested in and sign up by texting the topic name to 63336. The enterprising souls at Electric Pig have already nipped in sharpish to snag GADGET2U, which we hope will keep them in fish and chips.

Now, some maths. With ten subscribers, if you send your maximum 14 texts, you'll earn £9.80 per month (ten subscribers x 14 texts x 7p). With 100 subscribers, you'll earn £98. Chuffin' blimey, that's a helluva lot of chips! AQA won't tell us how many subscribers have signed up, but so far there's a whopping 329 publishers tweeting -- sorry, AQAing, on 471 different topics. Queeting? Hmm, nah.

So far, publishers are focusing on generic subjects, but we could see famous folk or organisations with pre-existing brand recognition getting involved. The problem is, Twitter does this precise service for free, and better folk than us have tried and failed to figure out a way for Twitter to make any money. We're starting to see services such as TwitPub, which charges subscribers to read your tweets, but we think the real difference lies in the delivery.

Rightly or wrongly, people are at home with paying for text messages to their phone, but not if they know how to find similar content from the Web, which can be accessed in a host of different ways. It looks like the big question is whether the service will take off, and only you, the public, can answer that.