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Questions and Answers for Anything

cc licensed flickr photo by Marcus Ramberg

I’ve been seeing a number of my search results this year landing on sites like WikiAnswers and Yahoo Answers — these are useful setups using a wiki based model where anyone can post a question, and then any site visitor can answer.

It’s a great approach.

I mean, how man time have you been to s site, and looked for a help in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) only to find the Q you have is obviously not FA-ed? The problem in FAQs is that people who know the answers get to write all the questions, so they write only the ones they can think of.

But in poking around these sites, I was finding a whole bunch of bizarro questions and oddball answers. There is a whole layer of microcultures in these spaces that just make be sit back in internet curiosity. This is also the lesson in that “open is as open does”…

This is a legit questions, but is this the best place to ask when a rock climbing gym in Grand Rapids is open? (un-answered). My grandma had this thing called the “Yellow Pages”, not sure what they did except make piles in the closet.

Or there is the wide open question of How much do things cost? which of course draws the appropriate response of “well it depends on wat the thing is.” (and the subtext of, “you bonehead…”).

There are important queries that need to be answered, such as, “Does John Cena have a stardoll?” I have no clue who John Cena is nor what a stardoll is but it does merit its own category (and the question is answered succintly).

Was it idle curiosity or term paper writing that leads one to ask, “Why did Johann Sebastian Bach write music?” though the answer is not one I’d put in a paper, well at least without not using some captial letters.

There are timely questions like “Did Bernard Madoff ever act in a movie or TV show or does he just look like someone I’ve seen on TV before?”

And there are deeply needed questions like, “What grade is junior prom in?” I’d had to be the prom date of that questioner.

People seeking answers to help them get employed, like “What in your job do you feel you have done well over the past year?” — like how is an internet audience of potential answer sources have this info??

And we are seeking answers to things like, “Where is Kent Goodman?” which comes witha a bit of Zen-like smackdown for an answer.

More philosophy is put out for questions, like, “How many reruns can be reran before having to be rewound to be reran as a rerun?”

Wiki answers has obviously been dealing with this as they have an extensive category of Harmless Nonsense .

Now beyond all of this silliness I have culled from there can be quite a bit of useful responses, yet even less wiki-fied than Wikipedia out to be taken with a grain of web salt. But the interchange, the topics, here so much reflect the quirks we bear as humans, so its nice to see it out in public.


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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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