Have a burning question? Just ChaCha [ARTICLE]

ChaChaEver wondered where the deepest part of the ocean is? Just ask ChaCha. Ever pondered the difference between an ostrich and an emu? Again, just ask ChaCha.

ChaCha is a relatively mind-boggling service that allows you to phone in or text a question–any question–and have a live person call you back with the answer within minutes. Best of all, the service is completely free and available 24/7.

Questions range from the practical (checking the weather forecast, movie times or sports scores) to the inane (checking the exact measurement of the world’s longest set of fingernails).

At www.chacha.com, a demo video shows callers asking about everything from the weather to whether it’s possible to drink a gallon of milk in an hour. Within minutes you can satisfy your curiosity or glean practical information, like the latest stock market updates or directions to the nearest outdoor cafe.

You ask, they answer

Just how are all those questions answered in such a relatively short amount of time?

ChaCha enlists the help of ChaCha guides who are paid to answer questions quickly and correctly. The job pays about 20 cents per transaction (which can add up to $4 to $10 an hour), but pay incentives are offered to those who log in to work during peak times. There are no minimum hours required. Guides typically work when they want to, and they want to, driven by the thrill of the hunt for information.

According to chacha.com, the system is set up so that each question is routed to a trained guide who is knowledgeable in that particular subject matter. The guide will research your question and send the answer back to you as soon as possible.

ChaCha phoneQuestions and answers must be brief (160 characters or less per text), but there is no limit to how many questions you can submit.

Establishing an account is not necessary to use ChaCha, but doing so enables you to set your main location so that ChaCha guides know the area your questions are referring to (for weather, directions and other applicable questions).

Creating an account also allows you to save an ongoing list of submitted questions and answers, as well as view your guide’s profile and the website where he or she found your answers.

Man with a vision

ChaCha is headquartered in Carmel, Ind. near the home of the company’s co-founder and CEO, Scott A. Jones, perhaps most famous for inventing the voicemail system used by most major telephone companies.

The longtime inventor and entrepreneur first envisioned a service like ChaCha two decades ago, before desktop search engines and the Internet were employed. As his bio reads at chacha.com, Jones publicly described his vision of “people having access to all of mankind’s knowledge, from anywhere, and at anytime. In late 2005, he realized that the enabling technologies of the Web and the ubiquity and portability of mobile devices finally provided the necessary pieces of the puzzle to manifest the dream. Hence, ChaCha was born.”

To ask your own burning questions, call 1-800-2-ChaCha and say your question or send a text message containing your question to 242242 (spells CHACHA on your keypad). Only mobile phones–not landlines–can phone or text ChaCha; most mobile carriers are included.

Don’t be shy… ask away! As the ChaCha website states: “There are no stupid questions.”