Social Q&A service has risen to be the new hot spot for Chinese startups for a while, we’ve seen the emergence of Zhihu and Baidu Xinzhi (Chinese Quora), and (both are similar to formspring). These services all target at general people, while SegmentFault, the latest addition to the Chinese Q&A camp, has a rather different approach to social knowledge sharing area with a focus on programmers and geeks.

Fairly speaking, the site is inspired and motivated by Stackoverflow, the geek-centric Q&A site which has been gaining popularity among crafters who shaped Internet. Founded by ex-Yahooer, Taobaoer and Renrener, the SegmentFault team launched the first version of its website in this April. Prior to SegmentFault, they also developed an open source blog system named typecho in PHP.

The team is consisted of hardcore geeks, you can tell that from the domain name “segmentfault”, which means segmentation fault or “generally an attempt to access memory that the CPU cannot physically address”. Checking out the website, it’s easy to find out that the site adopted a clean and noisy-free design concept with a big search box stacks on top of the page; tabs that switching between different sets of questions based on time/popularity/unanswered. The layout (pictured below) is streamlined with few necessary elements, nothing extra nothing unnecessary.

SegmentFault is linked with many well-received social networking sites in and out of China, such as Facebook, Renren, Twitter, Sina Weibo, Douban and GitHub. You can either use your existing accounts on these website to log into it, or register a new account on the website.

The site abided by the creative commons license of Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 China Mainland (CC BY-SA 2.5), which means you can copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the contents on the website and make commercial use of them.

Although being a hot area, social Q&A is still facing several pitfalls in China, like user traction, user stickiness and revenue model. Zhihu, the Innovation Works portfolio company is one of the best of its kind which targets at ordinary people and general questions, is currently focusing on content curation with unclear profit source. As for vertical ones like SegmentFault or other upcoming services, they still need to prove their potential and profitability by amassing as many users and as much traffic as they can. Content and community curation is a good start, but far from enough.

Listener of startups, writer on tech. Maker of things, dreamer by choice.

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