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A new social network, called Jig, aims to be a place where users do more than just share personal news or play games. It’s a hangout where they can help solve one another’s problems.

Jig was founded by Joshua Schachter, the creator of the social bookmarking site Del.icio.us, which in the early 2000s popularized the idea of tagging, as well as the notion of publicly sharing links people found interesting. Schachter’s new site is pitched as halfway between a social network and a marketplace for advice and help, whether restaurant recommendation or diet tips.

The Jig homepage greets users with a blank, one-line text box prefaced by the words “I need.” Once a person types in their want, their entry is added to the site’s list of “recent needs” for other users to view and, if they’re feeling helpful, address.

Numerous question-and-answer sites already exist, but Jig is notable for its focus on social interaction, and because users post with the expectation of acting on the advice they receive. “What we’re trying to do is get the needs people have in front of other people that can help,” says Schachter. “We’re trying to build a social network around utility rather than just sharing stuff.”

Schachter says that he and cofounders Nick Nguyen and Paul Rademacher were inspired partly by the way many ask for advice or information from friends on Facebook and Twitter, and partly by existing question-and-answer sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora, a slick site that launched last year to great fanfare.

But Schachter argues that Facebook and Twitter aren’t well suited to solving problems, because they are built around doing so much else. At the same time, he says, Yahoo Answers and Quora are less focused on actually getting things done and have become places where people tend to discuss general topics at length. “We’re all about task completion,” says Schachter. Jig’s design is intended to encourage people to bluntly share what they want, without frills, and for others to chip in with solutions that are equally pithy.

Many of the “needs” posted on Jig may look like queries typed into a search engine like Google, but Schachter says they are better addressed by people, not algorithms.

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Credit: Jig

Tagged: Communications, Web, social networking, collaboration, social web, Quora

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