One of the great things about the internet is the ability to find new information. If ever a topic comes up that I know nothing about I just go online and within a few minutes I can learn everything I need to know about it. Perhaps there’s a Wikipedia page, or maybe it’s a question that was brought up in an online forum. Whatever the case may be there’s always someone willing to provide an answer.
But then, the quality of these answers can sometimes be a bit suspect. One joke is that if you read it on the internet it must be true. The anonymity inherent to most comment boards gives people the license to say whatever they like. Sometimes people make things up just for fun. Or maybe they genuinely don’t know or are wrong. Whatever the case, information found online has to be taken with a grain of salt.
BRAINREPUBLIC is a site that bridges the gap between those that seek answers on the internet and those that would provide them. They do so by establishing a network of ‘brains’ that are experts in various topics to which people can pose their questions. Answers can be offered for free, or can be offered at a price.
The way BRAINREPUBLIC works is by allowing people to start Talks about any subject. From there the brains can respond with their words of wisdom. These conversation can take multiple forms include online chat, online phone call, and web cam chat. People can choose to talk in whatever form they prefer.
For people that are looking to provide answers they can first establish their areas of expertise. Here they can indicate whether they’re familiar with law, software, birds, career counseling, or any other topics. People with similar areas of interest are matched together. This makes it easy to find likeminded people to discuss various topics. When you do find someone you liked talking with you can favorite then. This is BRAINREPUBLIC’s version of being a friend.
At the end of the talk each brain is rated and commented on. Here’s where accountability kicks in. If someone consistently receives low ratings then people will know not to take what they say very seriously. On the contrary, people with high ratings will be sought after- even paid for.
Payment works as follows. If someone requests a discussion on a particular topic people who respond can offer their advice for free or for a fee. If they offer it for a fee then the other person can elect whether they’d like to pay for the talk. Each brain is given a public profile page where their rankings and people’s comments about them can be viewed. Based upon these someone may opt to pay for the discussion, or decline. BRAINREPUBLIC takes 30% of the fee paid. They also have the option to upgrade to a supporting member, which puts the fee at 20%. Being a supporting member costs $10/month.
BRAINREPUBLIC can be likened to Chatroulette except that you meet with subject matter experts. It can also be considered like Facebook except you connect with people that have common interests, as opposed to friends you know from elsewhere. It spares you from the iterative cycle of comment boards where it takes a while to hear back from people. Also, online forums aren’t conducive to coaching or rapid cycles of feedback. The ability to find qualified experts and accurate answers right away sets it apart from Q&A forums or random searches of the web.
BRAINREPUBLIC is a new way to find answers online. People can get free advice and pay for particularly useful feedback. The ease of connecting with people and starting a discussion makes it a nice way to hang out and get to know someone. All the while, sharing your knowledge and learning from others.
Update 1 August 2012: BRAINREPUBLIC has relaunched into a completely free online broadcasting-tool. Which is totally different than the previous site described below. We keep this review online for posterity. The updated feature describes their new online video broadcast portal.