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alex2's avatar

How is Fluther different from other Q&A websites?

Asked by alex2 (76points) September 25th, 2009

This question relates to a recent 600K investment into Fluther as described on TechCrunch. Some people think it’s the same as other Q&A services like Yahoo! Answers. So what’s unique and different? Why would someone want to invest 600K into this site?

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27 Answers

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Firstly, you could always read the comment by Alex T on that website you linked to. I see you also linked to this question from that website, which makes me think that you basically want others on techcrunch to see what type of answers you’ll get here.

Secondly, I could spend all my time explaining how Fluther works to you, but you probably wouldn’t get as much out of my explanation as you would through experiencing exactly how Fluther works. Give it a try, then see how you feel.

Furthermore, you might be wondering why this question isn’t getting a lot of attention. And if I’m not wrong most of the regulars here are sick of any comparison to “just any other” Q&A site (cough Yahoo Answers cough cough), which makes them veer clear away from any questions of this type which to them may just indicate someone who doesn’t want to put in the time and effort to see exactly what makes this site such a great place.

To any from who might be reading this, take my advice. Try this site out for a day and then make your own opinions.

And P.S.
Welcome to Fluther @alex2. Hope you enjoy your stay here. =)

Zen's avatar

@alex2 Welcome to fluther. @Saturated_Brain double ditto.

J0E's avatar

This question doesn’t get asked every day.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@J0E Ah but it gets asked enough in one form or another to get on peoples’ nerves.

alex2's avatar

@Saturated_Brain @et al

I am using this site and I like it. I posted this question (actually a discussion starter) to see what kind of answers I would get. Maybe I should have phrased it differently. “What do you like about Fluther that you can’t find elsewhere?” Or anything in this manner.

ShanEnri's avatar

I like the interaction! And even when there are disagreements there are never any hard feelings! It’s like one big, happily dysfunctional family!

Dr_C's avatar

@alex2 i had the same kind of question when i first came on the site… and never posted it thinking it might come to me after some interaction… thankfully it did. To give you some perspective i won’t re-post my answer to a previous thread… i’ll link to our dear friend @Dog’s thread welcoming new jellies. that might give you some perspective as to why so many of us call this site home.

marinelife's avatar

One of the big differences is that the site has quality guidelines. Normal (non text-speak) spelling and grammar are part of the site’s conventions. The site is moderated to maintain the quality. Questions that don’t meet the guidelines are kicked back to the user with suggestions on how to edit them to make them acceptable. Personal attacks of any kind are not allowed.

There is a warmth and sense of community here. While some newcomers have found that off-putting and a little clannish, all if requires if giving it a little time for folks to get to know you through your posts. Everyone is welcome, but trolls are not gladly tolerated.

So far, i have never found another Q&A site that held my interest or made me want to stick around. See how you feel after a while.

Gundark's avatar

It attracts, on average, a smarter group of people, as attested to by the resposes to this question.


wundayatta's avatar

It has (had?) a smaller community where you get to know each other better. It attracts a lot of really intelligent people. People really try hard to be useful to others. It works hard to rid itself of trolling and stupidity and other bad influences.

Other sites don’t pay as much attention to assuring that the interactions between users are polite and helpful. Fluther actively works to rid itself of trolls, non-answers, and ad hominem attacks. This site has developed a set of core users who often provide (sometimes excessively) complete answers. We are not afraid of long questions and long answers the way other sites are. We are not tweeting.

We also are not in competition with each other. We cooperate, and build on each others ideas. We answer questions for love (as well as lurve), because we like thinking about things.

There are a lot of people here who actively care for other members of the community. It is an excellent place for people who are experiencing issues that keep them from meeting others in the real world. We get people to get care for themselves when they might need it instead of trying to play doctor or shrink. We express concern and we follow up on each other when a person disappears for a while.

We resist ranking each other. We do not want to create petty jealousies or cliques or anything that causes people to feel worse about themselves.

I suppose this sounds like some kind of fake positivity place, but I assure you that we are far from that. People talk straight, and they often tell the truth—all of it. We get into the meat of a lot of issues, kind of like a seminar at a college. This place is safe to be who you are, for the most part. It usually takes a while before people realize they can talk about what they care about, and they don’t have to get over on anyone or debate or win points. A larger portion of our community listens.

Sure, we have debaters and we have people who try to stir up fights, but we also have a critical mass of people who cooperate, and we have moderators who are making sure it stays that way. They care about the community, and they work to make their decisions as transparent as they know how to do (which is not always enough for me, but they really try).

I’m not the kind of person who puts up with stupidity and bullshit. I’m not interested in that. There is plenty here for me to be interested. Plenty of people I look forward to hearing from. There are even a number of people here I would trust the care of my children to, and I have not met a one of them in person.

augustlan's avatar

Aside from the community itself (which really is our best feature!), there are more concrete differences, too. Real-time interaction and the direction of questions to those most likely to know the answer are huge. Fluther also “learns” which questions to send to you on an ongoing basis. The information you provide in your profile along with your answering (or not) history is the basis of that “learning”. The more you participate, the better Fluther will know what to send you. In addition to that, the site is simple, elegant, and quick. Plus, have you read the little messages under your user name? :)

Welcome to Fluther. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Ivan's avatar

The main difference is that Fluther pretends to be something it’s not. The vision (I assume, at least) is to create a place where someone can ask a meaningful question that they can’t find an answer to online. Their question would then be answered by real people who are knowledgeable about the topic. Then, that question would appear in the results of search engines. It’s sort of like a human search engine. You ask a question, you get an answer, then that answer gets recycled to anyone who might ask the same question later on down the line.

This is why you see such an emphasis on the “quality” of questions, a general negative attitude towards socialization, and a strangely fervent pride in moderation.

However, this scenario is highly idealized. It’s not as if you have to pass some sort of proficiency test to become a member and start answering questions. You can label yourself as an “expert” in any topic you wish. There’s been a lot of talk about how Fluther “funnels” questions to you that are related to your fields of expertise. By this, they just mean that you get an alert when someone tags as related to a topic you’re interested in. A thousand other sites do this, it’s nothing different.

There is a points (lurve) system, which is intended to showcase how qualified or experienced each member is. However, there is very little to control whether people receive lurve for actually giving good answers or for just being silly. Also, lurve can only accumulate and can never be lost; thus, anyone who simply uses this site for a long enough time will acquire a large lurve total, regardless of whether they submit helpful answers.

There is definitely an innocent, social, forum-like component to the community, just like any other Q&A site. The difference is that Fluther tries to cover it up and appear to be more business-like, especially when they are snagging large investments and being featured in web articles. Now, the emphasis on moderation and question-quality does tend to weed out the 12 year olds and trolls a little more than most sites; that may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook.

Although there are varying opinions on Fluther’s aesthetics, it can safely be said that the site is sufficiently fast. There are a handful of features, such as live commenting and answer previews, which make the site easy to use and navigate.

If you really want to see what makes Fluther different from other sites, take note of the inevitable responses to this comment.

dannyc's avatar

More importantly is that it is different, and that is why you are here.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I like that fluther isn’t so complicated with doo dads that I get lost navigating. The campfire chatroom is an excellent place to start out because you can ask just about anything in there about using the site and you’ll get a lot of feedback and help. That the site has moderators is great! I previously participated in a site I really grew to love only to see fantastic people lose interest in sifting due to bs and trolling which isn’t tolerated here. Jellies have their moments of kookiness and fun too (April 1st), I like it here, the waters are warm.

alex2's avatar

@et al

Some of you portrayed a sort of resentful arrogance about the way the question was posed. In that case, please read the re-worded version in the 6th reply from the top :_) It was in fact just a way to collect genuine opinions (not offences) about what makes Fluther stand out as compared to other Q&A sites.

prince's avatar

@alex2 Don’t pay attention to Ivan. He’s been whining on here ever since the website he used to be a part of shut down because it was inviable, and he’s been Mr-Sour-Grapes that Fluther isn’t exactly the same as his defunct site.

There’s a lot that similar to other websites—even down to the matching—though from I can tell it’s much more complicated than just alerting you when you have tagged questions—since I get alerts on things that I haven’t put in my profile.

Some would like a totally unmoderated site—maybe a YouTube or a Slashdot comment thread would be a good example of that kind of community. Then maybe we could vote down ill-informed, ill-natured comments like that one above.

Where I see Fluther as different from most other websites is its heart. And it has a lot of heart. Enough, that even long-time trolls are tolerated (enough).

As we progress more into the social web you see community mattering as much or more than technology—and I see Fluther as having both.

It’s like a forum, but more sophisticated.
It’s like a social network, but smarter.
It’s like a information tool, but with more heart.

It’s Fluther.

/resume lurk

Zen's avatar

@prince As a former wis.dmer, I applaud you and agree wholeheartedly with what you have written.

Dr_C's avatar

@prince That is by far the best answer to this question. Kudos.

basp's avatar

Fluther is east to use and navigate through. But, just like other social/question answer sites, it has it’s flaws. As much as people here would like to think this site is superior, it has the same ‘cliques’, and social norms/idiocycrocies as other sites. That is simply human nature and not a negative aspect necessarily.

wundayatta's avatar

Everyone always saying there are cliques here. How come no one ever invites me into one? Maybe, @basp, you would be so kind as to tell me who is in the clique so I could go and pester them to let me in?

basp's avatar

if you are unable to see the heirarchy here which creates the cliques, then you simply don’t want to see it. Forming groups within groups is human nature and happens in all settings, fluther is no exception.

wundayatta's avatar

@basp If you can’t name names, then how can I have any idea what you are talking about. It just makes it seem like you just want to feel like you are on the outside, or something.

Just because people perceive there to be cliques, doesn’t mean the people who are supposed to be in the clique think they are in the clique. As far as I can tell, people here are not exclusive in their relationships. Most seem open to new people, and they don’t seem to favor some above others, at least, not in a mutually self-congratulatory way. Some people call others trolls sometimes. Perhaps that’s a cliquey thing to do.

Certainly some people get on a bandwagon with others, and that may be a cliquey thing to do, but it seems to me that there is not one particular group that always allies itself with each other.

Group formation is common, I agree. The creation of social norms is common. I suppose the people who buy into the norms could be considered part of a clique, different from those who question the norms. The insiders and the outsiders. Still, it’s the rules of the site. You can vote with your feet. It’s different from a clique.

Maybe the moderators are a clique, but as far as I can tell, while they may support each other on moderating duties (although I have no idea what their conversations are like), they don’t seem to pal around when they are being normal flutherers. I just don’t understand why you think that because cliques are normal, there have to be some here.

basp's avatar

Like I said, daloon, you don’t want to see it. You want to believe that fluther is on a whole different level than other similar sites. And, quite honestly, if you want to hold on to that belief, that is fine with me. (whatever floats your boat). But I am willing to accept the reality for what it is. Not saying cliques are good or bad, they just are what they are…... an integral part of every formed group.
I’ve seen it here because I see things for what they are and not for what I want them to be.

For example, there are those (not talking about the moderators) who pass judgement on answers/comments made and point out what they feel is a “wrong” or “bad” answer…. Not because the answer violates a rule, but because the answer isn’t in agreement with the judgemental person. That others jump on that bandwagon reinforces the formation of the clique and passing judgement creates an ” us and them” dynamic which creates the clique.

Just to be clear, I am not talking about those who engage in honest debate over difference of opinion, but am talking about the person(s) who pass judgement without looking past their own viewpoint.

There are other examples and, you being the bright and intelligent person you are could identify those examples…. If you wanted to see the obvious.

And daloon, I am not being critical of fluther. It is a good site. I’m also not putting fluther on a pedestal. It is what it is and can be a very useful life tool….even with the undeniable cliques that are a natural part of all groups.

J0E's avatar

@basp I don’t know if I would go as far as calling them cliques but there are definitely some people who are more popular than others and they receive globs of lurve for comments that aren’t deserving, whereas others get squat for excellent responses.

basp's avatar

Yes,joe, there isthat too I’ve seen two people give essentially the same answers and one person get oodles of lurve while the other is not even acknowledged.
Tis human nature at work….

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