chacha guide story

21 09 2008

this guy worked at chacha and practically got deactivated for doing nothing wrong. sucks, dont use their service

here’s the story from the website:

6:48 AM – ChaCha stole my money. – Updated 8.02.2007

Just to clue you in, I was recently deactivated from ChaCha for no given reason. I made contact with the VP of ChaCha and arranged to have a phone call with him earlier today. Seeing how that went, I’ve gone ahead and written this up:

ChaCha is shit. Do not work or search with them.

There are a number of reasons why ChaCha is turning sour, but I’ll list personally the issue of deactivations as my most displeasing and truly unfair experience.

Depending on how the contact I get from an official of ChaCha goes later, I could continue to be deactivated with no specific reason given and possibly lose the hundreds of dollars I have earned legitimately at ChaCha since I started earlier this year.

**UPDATE** I just got off the phone with the VP of ChaCha. Apparently I’m still going to be deactivated, and I’ll have to wait 30-60 days to see if I get any of my $441.80 that I earned when I started working with ChaCha as a guide in January. In reality, they’re probably just waiting for me to forget in 30-60 days so they never have to send any money.  I doubt they’d really review all of my search logs when they could just as easily inform me I earned all of it, 200 of it, or nothing based on a whim, since neither I or anyone else will ever get to see this research/reviewing process.

There reasoning was very glib and the evidence was against me before they had even spoken with me. I even discovered from them apparently I have all sorts of incriminating history in my search history. When I asked if they could go into detail about just what that was, you know, so I had a fair chance of defending myself, I was denied explanation. So that sounds now like a case of padding to make someone’s job easier when it comes time to drop people at the slightest hint of strange activity. As it stands now, I’m being banned for accepting searches during Friday morning that appeared to be coming from the same person. How one person could manage to track down me every time in a randomly assigned search engine, I have no clue. They wouldn’t explain that either.

So to recap: I’m having all of the four hundred and some such dollars I have earned legitimately since early January called into question and most likely never sent out to me, being booted based solely on the fact I did my job for a few hours on a Friday morning, and being told this is all justified based on that morning and the existence of some mystery occurrences I will never have explained to me. The part that gets me the worst is I have to explain to someone very close to me now they can’t have a birthday because ChaCha canceled my funds. Apparently it’s enough at ChaCha to assume and to not inform the victim clearly of the crime they supposedly committed.

At this point, all I can do is hope I get even a fraction of the hundreds of dollars I earned at ChaCha, and the rest I can do is warn you all of the utter deceit and slime coming from the ChaCha business. Please heed my warning, inform your friends and avoid ChaCha like the plague it’s turning into for people just trying to make some extra money.

This is just MY personal experience, though. You can see ChaCha deactivating people for various reasons; most of the reasoning I’ve seen for such motions on ChaCha’s part are out of bounds or too strict.

For example:
(ChaCha actually deactivated this last person solely on a post he made at another forum that ChaCha has no control or administration over. Scary.)

As for ChaCha itself, I don’t find the pay all that great, but I still worked diligently and managed to make enough where I could. I can certainly see this not being an easy employment answer for most lifestyles.

I really tried to be a good worker for such a shifting and ever-changing company that I sensed would often censor guides from discussing their true opinions and ideas for change (Take a look at the official forums if you need an example of overbearing moderators and stilted, forced, positive-leaning conversation). I didn’t get angry at the pranks, I didn’t curse at anyone, I didn’t really argue with anyone. But it didn’t seem to make a difference.

Here are some of my personal thoughts of ChaCha over the last few months:

After ChaCha had us all rushing to spread their search bar amongst friends for minimal pay and encouraging that we start advertising for them on our own good will with no paid reward, they thanked us very quietly by lowering our pay.

Under the long awaited download update of the search application, we were greeted with such foul news. Aside from the ChaCha application being revamped (aesthetically, nothing more) they also shoved a pay cut for us guides under the carpet, letting us read it ourselves in the small print of the details on the new application release. So at this point, we went from 10 minutes search time equaling a max payout of .83 cents to only being paid for six minutes of our search time in an individual session with a max payout equaling .50 cents for one such six minute-long session. Thank you, oh gracious Lords of Cha.

It seems the many heads of ChaCha thought this would encourage quicker search sessions, which apparently was what the ChaCha infoseekers wanted more than anything. How they gathered that information and from where puzzled all of the ChaCha guide community: We knew the exact opposite is true. You can ask any ChaCha guide what the seekers want and they’ll tell you: The reason infoseekers come to ChaCha is not for speed, but for answers; pleasant experiences getting answers; answers where before on their own in their own internet search endeavors the infoseeker had culled nothing but dead ends. If they wanted speed, they would simply do the search on their own. So ChaCha was engineering itself to be just like any other search engine and trying its best to work us, the unique factor, out of the equation that ChaCha purports to be golden. Or at least that’s what they’re going to get. If they wanted to fix the speed, maybe they could address why the Internet Explorer based guide application is gutted with constant, freezing and search-stuttering pop-ups. (Maybe they could just listen to us guides once in the first place.)

So by instilling this sense of rush faster to make more profit for ChaCha, we were now going to have to be much more concise with our searches and in the end forced to start cutting off the infoseeker past six minutes if we had any hope of making reasonable amounts of money. I won’t even tell you how badly this affects the paid sessions we undertake to train the slow newcomer to ChaCha. Much more so we were less pleasing and human to the infoseeker as we took strain from the lack of searches, the overabundance of demeaning prank searches, and the confusing, no-real-rules environment of ChaCha as they switched guidelines around every few days or sent out moderators (just as blind and uninformed as we) to answer our questions (who had no real clue or centralized source to get answers from).

At this point I started comparing the experience of a ChaCha guide to that of a prisoner in Yodok, a work camp in the DPRK (North Korea). After reading Aquariums of Pyongyang and understanding the conditions of such a place from a first-hand account of a North Korean refugee, I don’t think that was such a bad comparison of the payment plans in relation to expected work output.

We now work faster for less pay and we’re expected to be that much more efficient even though we rarely get legitimate searches anymore. When we do get searches, they are almost always pranks. Pranks are double-edged swords in the land of ChaCha. Ignore them and you won’t get any money because a legitimate search is as rare as a two-horned unicorn; respond to the prank search in any way and you face eventual suspension or permanent deactivation.

What I want to know most is: Where is ChaCha to help us solve the real issue of pranks? Pop-ups? The current situation is tantamount to giving a pizza delivery man a baseball bat and sending him to a violent neighborhood, but firing him if he either delivers the pizza or successfully defends himself against an attacker with the baseball bat.

Where’s the justice? Does ChaCha actually imagine good publicity will flourish by treating the very lifeblood of its network and very real word-of-mouth task force so poorly? By having us walk razor-thin lines with no definite guarantee we will be rewarded (with what reward we get paltry in most cases)? I’ve never seen so many dissatisfied employees, or “contractors” as ChaCha prefers. Something is most definitely not right, and you don’t have to go far to hear what’s going on. It’s not a dead-end situation if ChaCha will just address the problems we all voice, or just get around to finishing what I imagine they’re already doing now: Hook as many people/employees in with blatant lies in the early stages, then slowly lower standards and rewards over time, seeing how many people will stay or leave, and then finally hammering in the rest of the nails as they finalize the reality of what they want their company to be for employees. A mute sloth organization to those asking for help; a quick vulture group to those that they feel need admonishing or censoring; a group that chains workers together and forces them to smile for their publicity under the heavily clouded skies of a low-pay, no-rewards, high-risk, highly-demeaning-at-times and little-to-no job-security employment future, all as ChaCha beats the drum to the march of sorry guides, those few just looking to simply make a little extra money, through an utter mess of a job.

And for those looking to work at ChaCha: They do not pay you 10 dollars an hour as Scott Jones is so apt to say when advertising for ChaCha. Jones actually estimates in a Business 2.0 article that he will make millions on the ChaCha venture all the while never paying guides more than 20% of what he takes in. Great guy. The most you can hope to make for an hour’s combined total of time spent searching for people is 4-5 dollars.

**UPDATE**: ChaCha reports that guides make 10 dollars a search.

This is not true. The guide named in the search (Sharae H.) has actually made around $400.00 since February. Not 400+ dollars in a single day.

For more information on fake PR:

A guide posted the erroneous news story of the 10 dollar payment on the official ChaCha forums and was then swiftly deactivated from ChaCha. Huh.

ChaCha is aware of the news story and is doing nothing change the misleading figures. Huh, again.

Also, this story was propagated around the country. A guide e-mailed a Texas news agency and made them aware of the issue. Their reply to him?

We based our info on what Cha Cha told us. I guess their people were wrong.”

So ChaCha is spreading this information itself, consistently and multiple times to  differet agencies around the country. Even knowing the errors they share. It’s not even a guide interview. Interesting.

*3-31-07 UPDATE*
Just got another story from a forum on another guide being deactivated.

…I know cause I was deactivated on the 13 th they said through the weekend and it has been over 2 weeks.I was deactivated because I sent an email to what i thought was a friend and they either gave it to chahca or passed it around and someone else gave it to chacha. All I did was quot some things from a web site I found and ask if they heard of it or if it was real or not .They other thing I myself said that was not a quote was “chacha treats its guides like dirt” The way I look at it though, that was my own personal email not some public forum.I should have the right to say whatever i want in my own emails.I feel like I was unjustly deactivated! I read stuff on the chacha forum as bad or worse than that.They said I was trying to start trouble. So just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know that it is really easy for chacha to find a reason to get rid of you.I was here since Oct,nearly 2,00 searches and had gotten a piece in the woman’s day magazine for chacha. Doesn’t matter what you do for them . They won’t think twice about getting rid of you.The deal is that dollar is most important.I have sent 2 emails to 2 different employees and have heard nothing and probly never will.” – Dreamer 1952. Link

Yep, you can’t even have e-mail conversations on ChaCha without penalty! Have an opinion that’s going through your own private e-mail? You’re fired! Great stuff!

And another article on ChaCha in Red Herring (Great name, eh? Thanks to L for the link and info) magazine. Once again the article gives the 10 dollar figure for payment, which is the rare and quickly lost “elite” status figure. ChaCha is still not changing or making an attempt at clarifying their faulty figures. And Scott still has his plan to get rid of guides in effect!

Hear about the ChaCha changes? Apparently to “deter pranks”, ChaCha went and removed the search with a guide access button from the front page of! Now you have to perform a search to find the guide search feature at the bottom of the first page of search results! Now why would a clueless Infoseeker try and dig through answers they’ve already received to ask a guide who is going to just send them the same results from their own search, as both a regular search and a guide search will turn up the same pages of results? Why would they bother even asking a guide when they already have the anwers on that first page? Why would they even bother with ChaCha if it’s just a shittier search engine with a crappy database when they can easily type in Pranks? I hear they’re the main course now. Think about it: A prankster doesn’t care if the guide search is a page deeper now, they are usually saavy internet demons. The prankster is THERE TO HARASS GUIDES. So he’s going to be the more dedicated one in finding a guide. Who will be more strident in finding a guide? The legit searcher just wanting some help and gets it on the first page of results (if the ChaCha database doesn’t shit out on them)? Or the prankster who will stop at nothing to harass a guide.

From what I gather, the legitimate searches are so rare these days.

ChaCha effectively cut off real infoseekers, crushed all the legitimate searches that guides get, and made pranks the 1 type of search that guides get now. Either ChaCha set out to do something in the stupidest fashion possible and totally defeated their unique feature that sets them aside from the competition, or there’s another side to the story.

You want to know something? I know what that other side is. It was never about pranksters. ChaCha is seeing how things go when their guides aren’t working as much. They want to see how they function as a regular search engine, per Scott’s idea to make ChaCha not about guides but about profit. Maybe sell the database off as soon as it’s not the piece of shit it is now. But overall, don’t pay the guides as much as they aren’t working as much now.

Here’s the ChaCha plan:

1. Let false information in the form of press reports spread around. The reports talk about ChaCha pay rates being 5 times as much as they really are. The figures are always wrong and misleading, but just shrug and don’t actually do anything to change them.

2. Don’t pay the guides as much. Lower their pay and expect them to work faster, and then lower the ability to get legitimate searches in the form of a anti-prankster change.

3. Lie, lie, lie to the guides. Tell the guides the prank ratings won’t affect them, even as the prank ratings clearly roll in and demote good guides. (Nowadays, I found out the pranks don’t even talk to the guides. They just wait for a guide to pick up their search query, then as soon as the guide enters the chat room, they leave and rate the guide bad. Weren’t ratings about the search results for the database to sort through, not about the guides? How can they say the guides matter while letting pranksters just rampage through search sessions, giving out fatal “Bad” ratings in a matter of seconds to any number of guides foolish enough to accep the search?)

4. Tell guides they aren’t planning on working them out of the ChaCha system, even as you turn off invites for new guides, swiftly deactivate the existing guides for just about anything, even sharing opinions IN THEIR OWN PRIVATE E-MAIL, and continue to be fuzzy about Catch 22 rules. All of those moves are clearly in an effort to kill off the guide population.

Sure they say they aren’t going to get rid of all the guides, but every single action of the ChaCha HQ says the complete opposite.

They say they are not getting rid of the guides, but I take that as them cleverly saying they won’t get rid of all the guides. What they will do is widdle down the population to those few select guides who love being trampled and lap up ChaCha bullshit like nectar, keeping just enough people around so they can keep their namesake of a “Human-Powered Search Engine” and not be TOO FUNNY of a joke.

Do any of you ever wonder where and why Scott pulled the projected “300,000 guides” working for ChaCha by this Summer figure out of?

It’s pretty clear from here: ChaCha hates guides.

ChaCha bans user from forums AND deactivates them from using ChaCha as a guide. All for defending users and questioning the iron fist of moderators on the forum!

Jesus Christ, they’ve done it again! A staunch pro-ChaCha user, who even swore off complaining, was taken off the ChaCha forums and deactivated. You can’t deactivate guides for stuff that goes on in the forum, that’s a seperate incident that is classically met with being banned from the forums! And what happened to the three strikes rule they implemented? They outright banned her without any system!


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ChaCha REALLY hates its guides who speak up.
*UPDATE 4/12/07*

Reader’s Digest interviews another guide, and yet again, erroneous claims that you can make $300 in a month working for 2-hours a day on ChaCha appear. BULLSHIT!

Oh, and the person they interviewed? A moderator for the official ChaCha forum. Huh, surely she wouldn’t have a reason to disseminate false information!

Where’s my $441.80, ChaCha:
I still have not seen any of my money. I DID get an e-mail asking for clarifying my status and address, so apparently they’re sending some part of my money soon.

Did I get paid?

I don’t know. It took so long to get my money, I decided to compound the time it took to get and wait that much longer to say: Yes, I did get my money. I got it in a check around a month and a half after deactivation, received via snail mail.

No money was changed from the amount I had in my account. Nothing was taken away. The review process they had was a sham, if they had reviewed they would have surely found some search that wouldn’t meet their requirements, but nothing of the sort happened.

I was given the run around and made to wait for my money while they most likely used it on something else, waiting to gather money from other sources to send to me.

Today? ChaCha is the biggest joke on the internet. Check out ChaCha’s rating on Alexa. Their traffic is in the pits, and I got off just in time.

Want to know more about ChaCha? Email me at, I’ll fill you in on a hilarious tale of how bad things have gotten over there.

For an excellent way to find what’s going on at ChaCha from ex-guides and disgruntled workers there, check out:

Nowadays, I hear they can’t get any searches at ChaCha, and their Alexa ratings reflect a big drop off in traffic. You actually have to register to use the Search with a Guide! HAH!




2 responses

22 09 2008

I am also a guide for ChaCha and for a short time after the pay decrease I would have agreed with you. I beg that you don’t jump to hasty conclusions about the intentions or integrity of ChaCha’s business. It’s sort of a joke to compare them to a North Korean prison camp, don’t you think? It takes such a serious tragedy so lightly when comparing it to a contracted job that you can sit at home in your pj’s and do while you are vegging out watching tv.

The few news stories you pulled were not only misinterpreted but you also blew them out of proportion. there are plenty of stories that accurately portray chacha, the fault lies on the news agency for not checking their facts.

My thoughts on guides that get deactivated is that it sucks but chacha has every right. If they are complaining about chacha why do they want to work there anyways? They arenot running short of guides obviously, so i say strip the fat.

You are basing all of your knowledge on hearsay of a few guides that got ticked for being deactivated. Your assumption of chacha’s “plan” makes no logical business sense for anyone, it just sounds like ranting. If you were to find some CURRENT news stories you would see that they are in a good position to challenge google for #1, hardly a sign of a crappy business plan if you ask me.

By the end of your rant it sounds like chacha actually did come through and pay the disgruntled guide regardless of the hate mail, even sending the explanation asked for.

I guess I don’t see the problem with chacha. I’m a guide and your post makes me feel defensive about it because I enjoy being a guide and making extra money. I’ve never had a problem with chacha. I wish you would get your facts straight.

22 09 2008

pretty sure you have to be 18 to be a guide. Does this mean your story is coming from secondhand experience?

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