Amazon beefs up search services

Amazon.com is trying to beef up its user-driven research site, just weeks after Google abandoned its 4-year-old effort, according to an Associated Press report.

The Associated Press report said Amazon's Askville.com site, like others in the online answer service niche, allows visitors to post questions to be answered by other users.

Askville has been in testing for a few months and opened to the general public in December.
Like leader Yahoo Answers, Askville is free, and participants can earn points based on the quality of answers they provide, the report said.

Participants will also earn a virtual currency called 'Quest Coins,' which Amazon says will be redeemed for unspecified prizes on the still-inactive Questville.com.

The new answer service is the latest in a growing portfolio of Web-based services from Amazon, which is best known for selling a vast array of consumer goods.

Another of Amazon.com 's Web offerings, the Mechanical Turk research service, where users collectively solve labor-intensive tasks like identifying specific objects in pictures and translating text, will play a part in Askville by guaranteeing at least one answer for each question asked, according to Askville's Web journal.

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