Investigating motivations and expectations of asking a question in social Q&A


  • Erik Choi Rutgers University
  • Vanessa Kitzie Rutgers University
  • Chirag Shah Rutgers University



Social Q&A


Social Q&A (SQA) has rapidly grown in popularity, impacting people’s information seeking behaviors. Although previous research has examined how people seek and share information within SQA, fundamental questions of user motivations and expectations for information seeking remain. This paper applies the theoretical framework of uses and gratification theory to investigate the motivations for SQA use, and adapts relevance criteria from library and information science (LIS) literature to investigate expectations with regard to evaluation of content within SQA site Yahoo! Answers. A total of 75 Yahoo! Answers users participated in a survey that asked them about reasons, methods, and expectations relating to asking questions within the SQA site. Findings indicate the importance of motivations and expectations in fulfilling both cognitive and socio–affective needs based upon the type of task performed. These findings provide encouraging evidence that understanding the interrelationship between the motivations behind and expectations of asking a question can inform a more holistic framework to assess information.

Author Biographies

Erik Choi, Rutgers University

Erik Choi is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey. He received her Masters in Communication Management and Technologies from New York University. His research interests include information seeking behavior, social media, and online Q&A services.

Vanessa Kitzie, Rutgers University

Vanessa Kitzie is a PhD student at Rutgers University in the Library and Information Studies program. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science from Rutgers University and her Bachelor's Degrees in Advertising and Sociology from Boston University. Her research explores how people assess information using mediated forms of communication, such as question answering services.

Chirag Shah, Rutgers University

Dr. Chirag Shah is an assistant professor in the School of Communication & Information (SC&I) at Rutgers University. His research interests include studies of interactive information retrieval/seeking, especially in the context of online social networks and collaborations, contextual information mining, and applications of social media services for exploring critical socio-political issues. He is also interested in various theoretical and practical aspects of information as a dynamic construct, and online information propagation.




How to Cite

Choi, E., Kitzie, V., & Shah, C. (2014). Investigating motivations and expectations of asking a question in social Q&A. First Monday, 19(3).