Social Q&A and Virtual Reference—Comparing Apples and Oranges with the Help of Experts and Users

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Online question‐answering (Q&A) services are becoming increasingly popular among information seekers. We divide them into two categories, social Q&A (SQA) and virtual reference (VR), and examine how experts (librarians) and end users (students) evaluate information within both categories. To accomplish this, we first performed an extensive literature review and compiled a list of the aspects found to contribute to a “good” answer. These aspects were divided among three high‐level concepts: relevance, quality, and satisfaction. We then interviewed both experts and users, asking them first to reflect on their online Q&A experiences and then comment on our list of aspects. These interviews uncovered two main disparities. One disparity was found between users’ expectations with these services and how information was actually delivered among them, and the other disparity between the perceptions of users …