Expert communities provide unique opportunities for individuals to build reputations in areas of expertise. While Yahoo Answers was one of the first popular question-and-answer websites, many have come to market since. Google created Orkut, LinkedIn has Answers, and there are now a host of industry vertical expert communities. I selected Quora as one of the most popular independent expert sites for this article, as it exemplifies what works best about these platforms.
General awareness: Whether asking or answering a question, getting your name out there is half the battle. In some cases, asking a good question to incite conversation can be worth as much or more as any resulting answer.
Thought leadership: While the primary focus of expert sites is to generate thought leadership, it can happen at a variety of levels: asking a brilliant question, answering a question brilliantly, or even answering a sufficient number of questions brilliantly to create "expert" status within the community or category of interest. In Quora and Yahoo, you earn points, which give you additional "powers" to vote other answers up or down, as well as earn additional badges or levels. These simple elements can be significant motivators.