More specialized answerers earn higher ratings and greater gratuities, even when controlling for answerer experience.
I find statistically significant negative coefficients on specialization when predicting pay per hour, implying that more specialized answerers earn less per hour.
With this understanding of answer quality vis-a-vis answerer specialization, Google could improve answer quality by requiring answerers to stay within their one-digit or two-digit category or categories of expertise.
Because questions tend to be submitted at certain times of day and on certain days of the week, and because answerers are not always on hand to answer new questions immediately, Google Answers opportunities vary somewhat over the course of each week.
Sundays have the shortest average lag between when questions are asked and when answered, and (after Saturday) both the second-lowest wages per minute of questions answered and the second-fewest number of questions asked--all suggesting a relative lack of Sunday work for answerers, relative to the number of answerers available.
Answerers earn a compensating differential for answering questions during the business day.
These results indicate that answerers receive a compensating differential--higher pay per minute--in exchange for answering questions during the business day.
To obtain the higher pay per minute, answerers must modify their behavior by answering questions during the business day, a costly change for answerers who have other obligations during the business day.
The Internet lets askers and answerers find each other easily and at modest cost--providing a service of value to both groups.
To these sites, Google Answers offers a remarkable success: low fees suffice to inspire answerers to prepare custom offerings, to users' specific requests, on tight timetables and with high quality.
The few answerers who have answered more than 100 questions defy the relationship described here.
TABLE 1 Summary Statistics Google Answers began April 2002 Data ends November 2003 Number of questions asked 43,262 Number of questions answered 24,290 Number of distinct question askers 24,724 Number of distinct question answerers 534 Average dollar value of answered questions $18.