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How to Make a Q&A Site

Questions are a fundamental element of human communication. When one doesn’t know some piece of information that he or she might have a curiosity about, or it might be essential to one’s survival to know, a question is a great way to obtain that information.

Of course, one has to ask the right person to get an answer. And that person has to be willing to share the answer with the inquisitor.

In some cases, it might be important to the knowledge-holder to withold information from the inquisitor. For instance in a criminal proceeding or a trial, the defendant has the fifth amendment right to not answer questions that would be self-incriminating.

Another example is in business. An inquisitor might ask someone about his or her industry knowledge, but that knowledge could be the very thing that gives his or her company an edge in the marketplace.

And sometimes, people just have a bad attitude and aren’t willing to put up with the questions of someone who might not know as much as they do. Some sites like reddit have a reputation for being elitist or otherwise rude to people asking questions.

That kind of attitude is not very friendly, and it is not the attitude that one wants to foster when building a Q&A site.

Other Q&A sites like Quora or Yahoo! Answers have a more welcoming atmosphere. Part of the reason for the difference could be because the sites reward users for providing good answers. Since other users vote on the quality of the answer, and on Yahoo! answers the inquisitor chooses the best answer, it behooves the answerer to be kind in his or her response.

So if one is attempting to build a question and answer site like one of these, one would do well to implement some kind of reward system for behaving the way the site owner wants them to behave.

In the past, building a site like this would have required a lot of knowledge of the nitty gritty details of computer programming. Today, the endeavor is much easier because of the explosion of the Internet and the proliferation of Open Source software.

Q&A
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How to Build a Q&A Site With WordPress

WordPress is one example of an Open Source content management system (CMS) that can be used to build a Q&A site. Originally WordPress was designed to be a blogging software, but since its inception, it has developed into a much more robust solution for building all types of websites, from e-commerce, to social networking, and, yes, to even Q&A sites.

This functionality is added to WordPress through the use of plugins. One particular plugin that can be used for this purpose is the “Q&A” plugin by WPMUdev.

How to Build a Q&A Site with Drupal

Drupal is another CMS that can be used to build all kinds of sites through “modules.” There are a variety of Q&A modules that can be used for this purpose.

Out-of-the-Box Q&A Platforms

If one doesn’t have any previous knowledge of the aforementioned CMSs, it might make sense to use a platform specifically designed to build Q&A sites. Some Open Source examples are:

Of course, if one has the knowledge and skill, he or she can create his or her own custom Q&A platform.

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