So Google has closed Google Answers .

The problem wasn't the initial idea. It was the execution. A paid-for service just doesn't fit the bill. And when Yahoo announced Yahoo Answers , it was done for.

The Yahoo Answers site was just too good - enabling people to post questions for free and allowing them to be answered by anybody.

This is how to create and run an effective collaborational website. When free options are there, paid-for options simply don't enter the mind of the web-savvy.

And it showed. The blog of Hitwise's Bill Tancer unveiled a thoroughly interesting chart of the audience for Yahoo Answers, Google Answers and the Windows Live Q&A.

Hitwise comments

"Yahoo Answers has over 50 times the market share (in visits) of the new [Windows] Live Q&A and 24x of Google Answers," says Tancer.

There are rockier roads ahead for Google, who tend to leave most services in beta mode. We've questioned this before and will again.

There are problems with reliability of some of Google's services - the calendar was down for most of the day earlier this week, while GMail clearly has issues from time to time.

When options become available that are as good or better than a Google service, people don't mind changing. Yahoo has some fantastic services, Windows Live is still fledgling.

But one thing's for sure - they'll continue to make a nuisance of themselves.