Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Q: Another Q&A Site? A: Yes, Discovery’s Curiosity.

Why is a cable TV powerhouse launching a question-and-answer site?

You won’t find out on, which Discovery Communications is unveiling today.

But you will find lots of other answers, some of which come from famous people, like musician Wynton Marsalis and Google “evangelist” Vint Cerf.

Q&A sites are a Web staple — see, Yahoo Answers, and Quora, for starters — but Curiosity is an interesting take: Rather than providing crowdsourced answers to user-generated queries, the site relies on experts to respond to a selected set of questions.

Some of the experts are famous people the site has recruited, and who contribute their answers via text and video. The rest of the stuff is sourced from other Discovery networks and sites. The answer to “Can frogs fall from the sky?” for instance, comes from Discovery Channel. (Answer: Yes, more often than you’d think.)

The fact that this isn’t crowdsourced means that Curiosity will never have the search-friendly volume that sites like Answers generate, though Jeff Arnold, who built the site for Discovery, figures it will still get plenty of inbound links from Google.

The bigger idea, Arnold says, is to attract “learners” — people who will want to noodle around on the site and come back to it over time — instead of one-and-done searchers.

If Arnold’s name is familiar, there’s a reason: He’s the former CEO of WebMD and also the man behind HowStuffWorks, which he sold to Discovery in 2007. Most recently, he launched Sharecare, a Q&A site for health care, and is using the same engine to power Curiosity.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo