For what feels like forever, I’ve been tinkering away at a new feature here at Lost Laowai, and I finally feel its at a stage where I can announce it. It’s called “Laowai Answers” and it operates pretty much on the same principle as any of the many of other “Q&A” sites out there — most notably Yahoo Answers and Answers.com — except Laowai Answers is completely China-focused.
The concept is simple — have a question about China, post the question, get answers from fellow China expats and travellers. Just a lil’ laowai helping laowai love. A two-way street where expats can gain and share knowledge about living, working and playing in this crazy country we call home (even if for some that’s only temporary).
I developed Laowai Answers to replace the long derelict Lost Laowai forums. Shortly after the redesign at the start of this year I began working on shaping up the forums’ layout and thinking about how I wanted them to operate. But lets face it, there are already a whole lot of fantastic China expat forums out there full of rants, flames and trolls. I kept hitting a wall, as I couldn’t see how Lost Laowai could add any real value to that. That got me thinking about why I use forums myself.
What I came to was the realization that while every once in a while I’ll read through a 6 page thread on why such-and-such (or so-and-so) sucks, the real value for me from a BBS is almost 100% when I’m looking for answers to things — whether that’s in designer/coding forums, on travel BBSes, city forums or any other special interest communities I hit up in the average week. And so I decided that if I was going to put the effort into having some sort of forum-like function on Lost Laowai, I wanted to structure it in a way that was constructive and informative to its core.
And thus we have Laowai Answers.
Not everything is finalized, and I’m still adding features and working out some bugs — both of which I hope you’ll help me with. However, it’s finished enough that I’d like to invite you all to go have a look — ask a question, answer some questions or just send me some feedback.
And before I get dinged in the comments about this, I’d like to give some love to Shanghai Solved — a Shanghai-focused site very similar in nature to what we’re doing with Laowai Answers. I was well into development of Laowai Answers before I stumbled upon their site, which looks great (in spite of the prominent Haibao :-)). And while they’re targeting Shanghai expatriate life, and we’re nationally-focused, there’s certainly some overlap. That said, my feeling is when it comes to getting answers to questions about China, I don’t think there can be too many places for people to seek information.
And so please, go check out Laowai Answers, help us test it and flesh it out with some answers to questions already on there, and by adding a few of your own. And, perhaps most importantly, let me know your thoughts and suggestions on how to make it as useful as can be.