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Betsy Aoki, Nils Pohlmann, Ed Harris: Q n A on Windows Live QnA

30 minutes, 36 seconds


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Recenctly, the Windows Live People released Windows Live QnA, which is, not surprisingly given it's name, a question and answer search service. We wanted to find out what it is, how it works, and why they made it. So, we met up with team leader Nils Pohlman, QnA program manager Betsy Aoki, and development lead Ed Harris for a good old fashioned Channel 9 Q 'n A on Windows Live QnA.

Betsy mentions her QnA gadget. Get it here.


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  • Hey all,

    I got the QnA parameters you need on the blog:


    We really need one that allows people to post questions (uses the live.com cookie to sign you into QnA, and input the questions), or for your answering guru tech types, riff off my code, find questions, and answer them through a gadget.

    If you really rock our world, I will do my best to sponsor your gadget as the official QnA one. (has to pass muster, etc with the gadget team). I believe in the dev community!

    Betsy Aoki
    Live QnA
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    I hope it was clear in the video that Windows Live QnA is a human-based search relevancy machine. We talk about what this means towards the end of the video. This is great stuff: humans making search more relevant for humans. In time, Windows Live search will become smarter (more relevant) due to the questions and highly-rated answers (arguably,more relevant, accurate) provided to this service by people. Think search algorithms that are directly impacted by human responses to questions fielded by humans.

    In time, the Windows Live search engine will learn the correct answer to millions of questions that matter to people. I think this is just awesome. And very human.

  • The questions, as they appear on the QnA home page, are sometimes trancated. This makes it difficult to quickly scan through the available questions and find the one that you know the answer. It seems that there is a restriction of 100 characters on the question's length but at the same time it seems that on the home page less than 100 characters are shown for each question and thus we have the trancation. Please fix this.
    On the home page add more questions that need to be answered and not only the first 10 or 20. In other words don't make me have to press More in order to get all the questions. Make more available on the home page by default. This will enable faster answering and give a better chance to a question.
    Also, to make answering faster, add in place answering, in other words, a way to answer a question directly from the home page, without having to first click the question, wait for the relevant page to open, scroll down to the end of the already given answers and then press a button to provide your own answer. Make this experience more seemless.
    To assist users in understanding some questions better, make a part of the description also available on the home page. I think that one or two extra lines for the description per question will not clutter the page too much. This is because currently you cannot easily understand what a question asks without reading the description and in order to do that I have to click on every question and then after reading it click back which takes much time and thus lessens the questions that I will answer.
    Finally, commenting below each answer has some usability issues, especially with screen readers, as the repeated username (your own user name) below each answer which is there to allow commenting is too much.

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