I mentioned Aardvark in a previous post. Basically, it allows you to send questions to people who might know the answer. They seek to send questions to a users 'extended social network'. I'm not sure how this is defined, but it's probably based on the 'friend of a friend' principle. Google bought Aarvark a while ago (surely a vote of confidence) and have just started to roll it out on YouTube (click here for post).
I'd love this sort of service on TRIP and we could launch something similar. However, for this to work well we need to have a good idea where people's expertise lies. Currently, the only details we consistently have on users is what their broad area of interest are (e.g. cardiology, oncology). If there are 100 questions covering cardiology topics - what's the best way of getting them sent to people who may know the answer? If I had some expertise in, say, stable angina I would find it very off-putting to be asked to help answer questions on cholesterol, stroke, hypertension etc. What would be much better would be to send the user only questions relating to stable angina.
So, to do this requires some sort of profiling. In other words recording and trying to understand a user's habits on TRIP and making assumptions based on their search terms, click-throughs etc. And, if we had a decent profile, as well as forwarding appropriate questions to them (assuming they'd be predisposed to answering them) we could arguably push new research, conferences, even jobs of interest.
It's a big task to undertake and requires users to consistently login (to help assign behaviours to an individuals profile). However, I think it's well worth the effort.