Investigating Motivations and Expectations of Asking a Question in Social Q&A

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Social Q&A (SQA) has rapidly grown in popularity, impacting people’s information seeking behaviors. Although previous research has examined how people seek and share information within SQA, fundamental questions of user motivations and expectations for information seeking remain. This paper applies the theoretical framework of uses and gratification theory to investigate the motivations for SQA use, and adapts relevance criteria from library and information science (LIS) literature to investigate expectations with regard to evaluation of content within SQA site Yahoo! Answers. A total of 75 Yahoo! Answers users participated in a survey that asked them about reasons, methods, and expectations relating to asking questions within the SQA site. Findings indicate the importance of motivations and expectations in fulfilling both cognitive and socio–affective needs based upon the type of task performed. These findings provide encouraging evidence that understanding the interrelationship between the motivations behind and expectations of asking a question can inform a more holistic framework to assess information.