Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yahoo answers has become very useful.

When the web was in its infancy the only "answer" service was from Google, who got people in the web community to act as researchers. Question setters set a price they were prepared to pay for an answer (from $2.50 - $200) and this indicated the level of detail required. Google took a percentage and the researchers got paid when they answered satisfactorily. Great model, with one problem - what if people didn't want/couldn't afford to pay? Enter Yahoo answers. Not only can you ask anything at all, but anybody can reply and then the best answer is selected either by the question setter or by the public who can vote for their favourite. I was sceptical at the start that the quality of answers would be too low, but I think on most questions where enough people respond the selected answer is usually very good. For instance I found a question about sheep asking "Will my sheep be lonely?". There are more academic questions too. Check out this answer to: "Is Pluto a planet" I think this is a very good idea and I bet there are people at Google annoyed that they didn't think of it first.

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