Some of the most popular sites on the web are Q&A sites. With the success of Yahoo Answers, Stack Overflow and the like, many other web publishers are following suit, whether seeking massive audiences with general Q&As or trying to corner specific niches with subject-matter Q&As. The Q&As may be launched as independent websites or incorporated into a larger web property. Many web application platforms now include well-maintained Q&A plug-ins.
The format of most web Q&A systems is straightforward. Users, who may have to be registered, ask questions. Questions may be required to abide by some formal and/or substantive set of rules. Those questions can then be answered either by other users, or by an individual, or by one or more appointed experts. Again, there may be rules regarding the form and/or substance of answers. In addition to the questions and answers themselves, users may be able to comment on the questions and answers. Questions, answers and comments may be moderated, unmoderated, or something in between may be preferred.
This document is based upon our "premium" website terms and conditions, with added provisions specific to Q&A websites.
Those provisions identify any status-based requirements for posters. Do they need to be registered, or can unregistered users post questions? Can anyone post an answer, or only appointed experts?
If the Q&A is limited by subject matter, then the limitation can be written into the terms and conditions. Similarly, users may be required to categorise questions appropriately - this assumes that there is some form of categorisation system in place, whether based on tags or category trees or something else.
The licensing and content rules relating to questions and answers are covered in a general set of provisions dealing with all user content.
Finally, the following special provision is included in the document to disclaiming liability for questions and answers: "You acknowledge that we do not systematically check, verify, review or moderate questions and answers published on our website. We do not warrant or represent that the questions and answers are true, accurate, complete, up to date or non-misleading. You must verify the content of any question or answer before relying upon it. Subject to Section 13.1 [general caveats to the limits of liability], we will not be liable to you in respect of any loss or damage arising out of any reliance that you place on any question or answer published on our website."