O’Reilly Answers is an online database of questions and answers maintained primarily by the user community. Through O’Reilly Answers, visitors can discover the answers to their tech questions and find solutions they might not have come up with. Skilled users can share their knowledge and expertise by providing answers. The O’Reilly Answers community includes many people, from customers, editors, authors and friends to conference speakers. Anyone who has something to share or needs an answer can find what they are looking for on the website. The homepage also includes numerous other items such as new contributors, most active answers and hot topics. Users earn reputation points by participating on the site. Certain activities will also earn the user the ability to put specific badges on their profile along with reputation indicators that indicate the user’s status on the site. These range from newbie to novice, pro and expert.
O’Reilly Answers is a product of O’Reilly Media which was founded in 1978 by Tim O’Reilly. Today, the corporate includes around 270 employee found at their offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Farnham, United Kingdom; Koeln, Germany; Beijing, China; Tokyo, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan. The company headquarters can be found in Sebastopol, California.
What really makes O’Reilly Answers stand out is the one force that drives the website: its user community. Users from all over the world can pool their technology knowledge into one valuable resource. Users pose questions that tap into that pool and sometimes challenge other users to come up with effective solutions. There is a constant give and take process going on as users ask for assistance and provide it.
O’Reilly Answers uses a very low key design with a white background and occasional hint of color to provide a pleasing contrast. The answers page is highlighted by a black and white image of realistic owls that almost look as though they were taken from an encyclopedia. The page includes a list of trending topics so users can quickly get involved in popular subjects. A search bar is also provided in the top, right hand corner of the page to help users find solutions to previously asked questions.
Upon arriving at the O’Reilly Answers website, users are given the opportunity to either ask a question or share their knowledge with the community. Those who want to share their expertise can click the gold “Share Your Knowledge” button along the upper, left hand side of the page (under the blue “Share” header). A similar button can be found just to the right to ask a question. Those who do not have an account with O’Reilly must make one to perform either task. A small “Your Account” button at the top, right hand corner of the homepage takes the user to the log in area which includes another gold button that allows the user to create an account. The new account form requires a full name, desired screen name, email address and password. The user must also enter a Captcha code to verify that they are human before completing registration.
Creating an O’Reilly account does not cost anything. There are no subscription fees for asking questions or answering questions. That being said, the site does have areas that may cost money depending on what the user chooses to do. A shop area provides users with many resources that can be purchased through the site, most in the form of a book or video.
O’Reilly Answers is a helpful resource for anyone who needs their technology questions answered. The website also welcomes users with knowledge who can help others find the solutions they have been looking for.