Caroline Blake / Development / September 29th, 2009

Aardvark: my best friend whenever Google lets me down.

I am generally skeptical of new tools online. But I was recently invited to join a new community which exists solely for answering questions, and I must admit that I am in love. Nerdy, internet-y, crazy electronic love.

If you haven’t checked it out already, you should do yourself a favor and go to www.vark.com . Once you’ve signed up, you enter categories of questions you’d like a shot at answering for other askers. Computers, cameras, cupcakes; whatever you’re into, no alliteration required. These are the areas that Aardvark might look to you to reply to someone else’s question. Next, you choose your favorite method for getting questions and giving answers. For me, AIM was the most straightforward: after following some simple instructions, I had added Aardvark as my newest online buddy.

Aardvark is way better than any of my real buddies, though. (Sorry, guys. You’ve been replaced.) If you have a question, you trigger an IM to Aardvark and ask it with as much relevant detail as you can think of. Aardvark then disperses your question to various people within your network, and you get answers back via the Aardvark bot.

For example, my first Aardvark question came up while I was planning a wedding. Four solid hours of wine reserach online and numerous bottles of vino later, my then-fiance and I still had no idea what the most crowd pleasing option would be for the reception. Googling gave lots of reviews of wine, lots of places to buy wine, lots of wedding-reception-suggestions, but nothing that answered our question perfectly. Enter Aardvark:

“I need a white and a red wine for a wedding reception with 35 people. What are good crowd-pleasing, nationally-available options. Looking for specific bottles; ie brand + year + type”

5 minutes later, I had my first answer – a suggestion from a caterer. Ten minutes after that came my second, from a wine conneseur. Five more minutes, and someone sent me a link to a great site where everyday-people rate wine they’ve had which conveniently also offered a decent search function. And that night, the boy and I had finally made our selections.

Since signing up about three months ago, I’ve asked Aardvark about 10 questions, and have answered a little more than that number for other users. Questions I ask tend to be those where I can’t find just the right search terms online, where I need a faster answer than I think I can Google for, or ones that I just want an opinion on. Though I’m normally really hard on new web apps and hesitant to embrace them, this is one that I’m very happy to have found and used.

I definitely reccomend you check out Aardvark if you have an invite from someone to do so. And heck, I’m infatuated enough with it that if you don’t have an invite from someone else, leave your info here and I’ll invite you myself. Yes, I really am THAT in love with Aardvark!

  • Alison

    Thanks for the great review of Aardvark! You’ve perfectly pinpointed the types of questions that are great for Aardvark. (Just as a side note, if your readers have Facebook, they no longer need an invite to sign up.) I’d love to hear any other feedback that you or your readers have – alison@aardvarkteam.com – Alison @ Aardvark
    http://twitter.com/AlisonatVark