Sunday, January 9, 2011

Online Transcription Service: ChaCha's Online Audio Transcription Job

ChaCha, at one point, was a hugely popular text-message based question-answering system—similar to KGB, but free. During it's peak run in 2008, the system was accessed by millions of people from all over the world.
Update: ChaCha eventually discontinued all Guide Roles and launched a new program called Apollo. Apollo had a relatively short run and is now defunct.

Who remembers ChaCha?

ChaCha was a text message based question answering service—it was essentially like sending a Google question via text, except a real person would answer. If you didn't have text service or didn't want to incur text charges, you could also call ChaCha's toll-free number and leave a question on a voice system.

For awhile, I worked as a ChaCha transcriber. This meant that I was required to wait for a phone question, transcribe it, and send it over to a ChaCha Expert to answer. The ChaCha Expert would then answer the question via text.

Being a ChaCha Transcriber was a fun, entertaining way to earn a little extra cash. My position was relatively easy. It was a "general transcription" job, so no certification was required. I didn't need any special equipment (although I did invest in a pair of quality headphones), as the interface was equipped with all the tools I needed.

How much did ChaCha pay transcribers?

When the ChaCha service was still up and running, there were two modes for earning.

Traditional Mode - In Traditional Mode, transcribers earned $0.03 per completed and accepted transcription.

GuideShare Mode - In GuideShare Mode, transcribers earned two points for each completed and accepted transcription. At the beginning of each month, points were given a cash value based on the overall performance of ChaCha guides. If the guides received great views the previous month, the cash value of the points would be increased.

I always opted for "Traditional Mode" simply because a lot of guides didn't seem serious about their work and it wasn't often that the point value was higher than the Traditional Mode earnings.

Earning potential, even in Traditional Mode, varied greatly. There were so many factors to consider. It seemed that most of ChaCha's customers were teenagers, so throughout the weekday when these children were at school, there were not many question sessions. On the weekend, however, you might get 20 or 30 per hour.

The best time to work was when ChaCha sent out what was called "High Volume Alerts." These HVAs indicated that there was a large amount of questions coming in so guides needed help handling the workload. These HVAs happened mainly during awards shows, season premieres, political debates, or big news stories.

Despite typing 80+ words per minute, wearing quality headphones, and having an ear for detail, I only managed to earn around $3 per hour in Traditional Mode. I didn't care because I was there more for the entertainment, honestly. Questions were often hilarious and some people called just to talk to ChaCha and figure out whether or not they were speaking to a real person.

Did you work for ChaCha? What was your experience?

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