Getting answers from Experts-Exchange.com

If your search for answers to technical questions yield links to Experts Exchange, you’ll probably find yourself frustrated by the “This answer is only available for Premium Members” blocks. However, it’s good to know that the content really is freely available.

This popped up again today, so it’s worth a heads-up. The whole issue has, of course, already been documented elsewhere. The simplest way is to just scroll down enough on the result pages, and you’ll see the answers – they had to include them in order to get indexed by Google! To see this, try this search and click the results. Note that you can’t see the results if you go directly to an answer page – they probably check for referrer headers. You can also use the search engine’s “view cached page” feature, which also shows the answers.

The demise of good spirit

A few words on EE while I’m at it: It’s a community-based site where you can purchase a subscription to a vast base of questions and answers on a variety of topics. Years ago I was a member of the site, answering C# and .NET questions sporadically. As a compensation, the site gave free full access to all the content and unlimited ability to ask new questions. And many of the active people on the site actually had fun, competing on who’s the first to answer a specific question.

Since then, the site has gradually become more and more restricted, finally ending in a point where almost everything seems to require a credit card. I’m not sure if everybody’s fun has been as totally spoiled as mine, but I certainly found the more open spirit encouraging. The idea of contributing to EE now feels odd – why would I bother?

A site like EE isn’t easy to monetize, but let’s face it, that milk did go sour a long time ago. Compare with the modern competitor, stackoverflow, which relies on sufficient interpersonal incentive to fuel the answering rage, and also improves the answer quality by making the question pages wikilike. EE has so many years under its belt that it will absolutely remain a valuable resource for many IT questions – the amount of knowledge therein is huge. Stackoverflow is quickly becoming more useful for modern-technology developers; its traction on IT professional questions remains to be seen.

But as it is, EE is more and more starting to sound like a moneymaking scheme instead of clever web development, and thus I felt no sting in my conscience in highlighting the “cheats” above. It’s so easy to lose respect. :-(

June 29, 2009 · Jouni Heikniemi · 2 Comments
Posted in: Misc. programming

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