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LinkedIn Answers can hook you up

The business networking site launches a good-looking question-and-answer service.

Question-and-answer Web sites can connect the curious with the well informed, but some fail to live up to their promise. For instance, Yahoo Answers covers a vast array of subjects, but too often it attracts too many teenyboppers. With the new LinkedIn Answers, however, you can tap into the wisdom of a professional crowd.

LinkedIn Answers interface

This could be a great way of reaching out to those in the know without having to directly contact individuals who aren't so familiar with you. You can close a question to all but a small circle of chosen contacts. I also like that LinkedIn Answers displays topics posted and answered by people within my extended network. And lest hungry job-seekers clutter the pages, you're supposed to admit while posing a question if you're promoting your services, looking for work, or seeking to hire someone.

Many of the queries regard specific business matters, such as, "Which Source Code Management solution are you using and why?" Other questions are less concrete. Last time I checked, there were 68 responses to: "Will thoughts produce reality?" I left my question about the potential success or failure of Microsoft Office 2007 open to all of the 9 million members of the LinkedIn community, while alerting one software-savvy contact within my network. In less than an hour, I received a pair of thoughtful replies. Each query remains open for seven days before it is archived. I hope that LinkedIn Answers will attempt to eliminate duplicate questions as Answerbag does.

Overall, the uncomplicated interface is a snap to navigate. Still, while it's simple to look up contacts' names, I couldn't find an easy way to fish through the questions by subject. So far, however, along with its directory of services, LinkedIn's Answers appears to be a natural fit for this popular networking service.