ChaCha, the world’s first human powered search engine is nickeling-and-diming the guides that are the heart of the company. ChaCha has raised about $16 million in funding within the last year and a half and cannot get a solid business model going. According to TechCrunch, good ChaCha guides make 20 cents per answer given to those who want to search and bad ChaCha guides make 10 cents per answer.
Let’s say that an average guide can answer 30 questions in the span of an hour, given that the traffic is there. On the low-end, the guide will make $3 in an hour. On the high-end, the guide will make $6 per hour. This is less than minimum wage in all of the United States that have minimum wage laws (except for Georgia, Kansas, Wyoming).
Clearly the guides and potential guides aren’t happy about it. On a message board of ChaCha guides, here are some of the comments:
– “I just started this last week and I’m pretty disappointed. 15 cents is a stretch but 10 cents is definitely not worth the time.”
– I kinda eyerolled it when I saw the note in my e-mail. It’s understandable that they want every Guide to be dedicated to the clients, but you can’t rally the troops and then cut some of them off at the knees if they’re not getting “volume”.
– One of the reasons I have not gotten on board yet is I did the math and figured out that it takes 500 answers to earn $100 at $.20 each. At 3 minutes a question, that’s 20 questions an hour, it would take 25 hours to earn $100! That’s ridiculous! I’ve seen some comments on here that you should be able to do many of them in a minute, and if you averaged 40 questions in an hour, that’s $8/hr, which is minimum wage here in CA. That’s not bad, but there’s no guarantee you will be able to do that many questions, and if you’re in it for the money (which, face it, we are), you could get a job in the mall or anywhere else and have the money guaranteed!
I’ve seen ChaCha change their business model so many times that it’s not even funny any more. Perhaps ChaCha should use their funding and build a real search engine that doesn’t depend heavily on constant underpaid manual labor.