When typing a search query into Google, you’ve probably recently been met with a question-and-answer-style card near the bottom of the first page of results. You may have even been given a text box where Google has requested that you answer a question for others to see while searching. All of this has been part of a feature called ‘Ask and answer questions’, or ‘Q&A on Google’ that tasks regular folks like you and me with giving easy-to-understand answers to everyday questions. These would then appear in Google Search along with returned links and other knowledge graph results. Not anymore – Google has just subtly announced on its Support website that it’s killing the feature off soon.
Over on Google Search Help, a yellow banner spans the top of the page that reads ‘As of June 30, 2021, we’ll no longer offer the ask and answer feature on Google Search. To download a copy of the questions and answers you’ve contributed, visit Google Takeout and select Search contributions. Complete this step by June 30th to create a record of all your contributions, including your questions and answers. Learn more about how to download your data on Google.’
Anyone who previously asked questions or gave answers during the experiment can find their contributions here. Please understand that the Q&A on Google feature is not the same as the company’s Featured Snippets or the ‘People also ask’ feature. These other segments are also in beta, but they’re auto-generated question segments based on popular search queries. Google then extracts an answer from a relevant web page and displays it in the dropdown for each section.
Because this doesn’t rely on individuals to contribute to it in order to be useful unlike the Q&A, I don’t see it going anywhere – which is good, because it’s quickly become my favorite Search feature! Have you ever encountered the Ask and answer questions on Google feature over the past two years? I’ve personally only seen it a few times, and when I had, the answers lacked much detail. Despite that, they were usually succinct and useful because they were written by others who have already done the research. The whole thing had a very Yahoo Answers vibe.