Why is the sky blue? Why does the car make that funny noise? If your kids demand authoritative answers to their every question, you might want to check out Allexperts.com, a free service that connects knowledgeable volunteers with curious Web surfers.
Launched in July 1998, Allexperts.com now features more than 1400 detailed categories, ranging from entertainment to computers to family counselling. Categories are further subdivided into hundreds of more specific areas to help narrow your query.
Once you select a category, you can check out a list of experts. You can examine their profiles, and pick the appropriate guru.
Say you're having a problem with your Mazda. You can start with the car's category, then choose between two experts with more than 17 years of experience.
"We use an elaborate rating system for volunteers, including marks for politeness, knowledge, and timeliness, so that users can more easily find the correct expert," says Steve Gordon, the company's director and founder. "Most questions are answered in one day."
Answers are provided at no cost (the site sells advertising through banner ads). You can also hire a guru for more comprehensive jobs, and the expert keeps all revenue for any contract work made through the site.
Of course, there's no dearth of experts on the Web. Newcomers like ExpertCentral.com and XpertSite.com compete for your confused attention.
Allexperts.com features a look that's more basic and functional than some of its competitors. Despite, or perhaps because of, its uncomplicated design, the site is easy to navigate and loads quickly.
Gordon says his service offers a unique guarantee: If you don't get a response from your chosen expert within three days, you can file a complaint with the site. The service will follow up with you to make sure your question is answered.