Earnings and Ratings at Google Answers

Edelman, Benjamin. “Earnings and Ratings at Google Answers.” Economic Inquiry 50, no. 2 (April 2012): 309-320. (draft as first circulated in 2004.)

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.