Get paid for answers at Mahalo

Mon 15 December 2008 12:40, Bas van den Beld

Get paid for answers at Mahalo

We all know that Jason Calacanis is a very smart business man. His business reputation has been built up by several successful ventures (think Weblogs Inc and Netscape). His latest project, human search engine Mahalo, has been trying to get solid ground for over a year now. The feature Mahalo added last week might just be what Calacanis has been looking for.

Mahalo added “Mahalo Answers” a feature which immediately reminds us of “Yahoo Answers” and “Google Answers”. However there are some big differences. The biggest one: you can actually make real money answering questions.

So how does it work? The first part is very easy: you can ask and answer questions. As was the case with Google Answers, Mahalo tries to get people to answer questions by rewarding them. You can become an expert at a specific area by answering questions. Questions are being asked on every page. That is one of the differences between Mahalo and Yahoo/Google: Every page has a question box and the questions and answers are, when present, integrated in the search results.


If you like the answer given by a Mahalo-user to your question you can ‘donate’ money to that user.  More users can answer one question so you have to ‘pick’ who deserves to get paid. You can do this via PayPal. You can only give a tip to what you think is the best answer.

Off course people are not obliged to give money, but it is stimulated. Mahalo uses a reputation system. If you never pay for the answers to your questions your reputation will go down and you will have less chance on getting paid yourself. On the other hand Mahalo will also highlight those who pay a lot and answer a lot.

The reputation system is also a stimulant for user to ask questions directly to those who have a high reputation on a specific subject. Therefore giving those who do well more opportunity to earn money.


Mahalo has been free of advertisement since Calacanis launched the human search engine in 2007. Therefore the search engine hasn’t made any money yet. They are trying to change that with this new feature. Mahalo will take 25% of the money exchanged by users. So if the system is used a lot Mahalo will earn a lot of money.

The big question will be if users are really going to use the system like Mahalo wants to. Probably there will be a lot of users willing to answer questions since that will be the opportunity to earn money. The real challenge will be with those asking the questions. Will people actually pay money to get the answers they are looking for?

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