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Q & A with ChaCha Guide Nicole Scilingo

How it works:

ChaCha is a free search engine that specializes in a question answering technique run by a human search engine. Anyone can simply text a question at any time to 242242, which spells ChaCha, or call 1-800-2ChaCha from a mobile phone. The answer will be received within a few minutes. Text users will also get a short URL to a page for more information in addition to their answer. Some carriers will apply standard text messaging rates.

Q: How did you get hired at ChaCha?

A: You must complete a series of online courses to learn how to properly expedite questions. You watch informational videos about how the Guide Dashboard works, try some demos for answering questions and after you’ve completed all of the lessons, you must pass the final exam. The exam is an actual real-time expediting session where you answer five questions. Your answers are reviewed and scored at the ChaCha headquarters.

After a few days, you receive an email letting you know whether you passed or not. If you passed, you’re in. If you didn’t pass, you can’t ever apply to be a Guide again. It’s a really bizarre rule. One of my friends tried to be a Guide and she actually failed the exam, so now she can’t ever work for ChaCha.

Q: When did you start the job?

A: I just started in January. I figured it might be fun, and it’s easy money. It’s really nice that I can literally work whenever I want. I’ve been busy with school lately, but if I’m bored on the weekends, I’ll hop online and answer some questions. Everyone thinks it’s so cool that I work for ChaCha, but anyone can do it. It’s a really good way to kill some time while earning money. You might even learn a thing or two while searching for answers to questions!

Q: Are there any questions you won’t answer?

A: Often times there’s a lot of harassment that comes through, but we’re trained to respond in a mature manner. There’s a preset “Quick Answer” response, which just requires a simple click of the mouse to respond. During the Superbowl, there were preset answers for who the teams were, who was singing during halftime and the current score. There’s also a Quick Answer called the Crystal Ball, which is for questions like, “Will John ever ask me on a date?”

Q: What has been the weirdest question you’ve had?

A: There’s been some strange things like, “Is it normal for adults to wear diapers?” or “Will you have sex with me?” Teenagers like to send in silly questions to get a laugh out of our responses. Some Guides will play along, but I usually just ask them if they have any other questions. I definitely keep it clean when I answer questions because our responses are graded on quality and customer satisfaction each week.

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