March 2, 2021

Revised: Research Paper — Earnings and Ratings at Google Answers

Note: The following is a revised version of a paper first published in 2004. Google began Google Answers in April, 2002 and ended it in November 2006.

Earnings and Ratings at Google Answers (Benjamin Edelman)

I analyze all questions and answers from the inception of the Google Answers service through November 2003, and I find notable trends in answerer behavior: more experienced answerers provide answers with the characteristics askers most value, receiving higher ratings as a result. Answerer earnings increase in experience, consistent with learning on the job. Answerers who focus on particular question categories provide answers of higher quality but earn lower pay per hour (perhaps reflecting a lack of versatility). Answers provided during the business day receive higher payments per hour (a compensating differential for working when outside options are most attractive), but more experienced answerers tend to forego these opportunities.

Source: Economic Inquiry (forthcoming), via Harvard Business School Working Knowledge