A librarian's worst nightmare? December 10, 2007 9:11 PM   Subscribe

After I read this article today about Yahoo Answers, I realized that I've never actually spent any time on there. For those who have - how does it compare with our site?

I also thought it was kinda funny that the title of the Slate article was, "A Librarian's Worst Nightmare."
posted by Afroblanco to MetaFilter-Related at 9:11 PM (43 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Ask MeFi gets a namecheck there too. I wrote a lengthy comment there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:14 PM on December 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ask Metafilter seems to have a better track record of correct answers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:23 PM on December 10, 2007


Oh and to answer your actual question, I see YA as a real generalist community that skews young and doesn't seem to really work right to get questions answered as much as drive eyeballs to the site which, let's be honest, is its primary purpose.

You get "points" for showing up, points for answering and points for a bunch of other things. They filter based on content somewhat -- my early YA answer about fisting has been since removed I think -- and the moderation is totally opaque and, in my opinion, sort of random. It's a great way to ask a question and quickly get a bunch of answers back and I'm happy to see it exist because it's an interesting model of a very lowest common denominator Q&A site [where it's not really LCD since those people are all online and somewhat literate] but yeah while I don't think the place is a cesspool and it certainly doesn't make me bristle as a librarian, I am happy that AskMe seems to function better as a place to get good answers to any sort of question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:24 PM on December 10, 2007


jessamyn: were your 4 "tools" meant to be The Four Most Important Tools In This Order, or just a sampling? If you meant it as the former, I'm kinda shocked that you didn't lead off with moderation and follow it with the fact that we have a sign-up fee. Sure tags and best answers are useful and all--but are they the 2 most important tools?
posted by mullacc at 9:33 PM on December 10, 2007


I don't see the sign-up fee as a tool at all though you're right I bet it is the single biggest factor to keeping things decent. I was mostly talking about features that AskMe has that keep it useful, and it's pretty early in the morning here in Dubai.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:41 PM on December 10, 2007


Here's how I would explain the differences between AskMe and YA.

The sample question will be "I like grunge music but apart from all the big names like Pearl Jam and Nirvana I don't know any other grunge-style bands Please reccommend some other grunge bands I might like."

AskMe

Here are a list of bands that you might like.

Yahoo Answers

O MY GAAAAWD!?!?! U like gRUNge??!? That is so gay! You are gay man! 50 CENT RULEZ!!!! lol lol lol :) :) :) :)

-------

Of course, they both do relationship questions really badly...
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:43 PM on December 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Everything I've ever seen from Yahoo Answers has been complete garbage on par with youtube comments. Seems to be populated with illiterate morons and 12 year olds.
posted by puke & cry at 9:56 PM on December 10, 2007


Everything I've ever seen from Yahoo Answers has been complete garbage on par with youtube comments. Seems to be populated with illiterate morons and 12 year olds.

At the risk of falling into the usual 'our website is better than their website' kind of thing, I've got to say that what little I've seen of YA has given me this impression as well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:09 PM on December 10, 2007


Yahoo Answers is only for finding out how is babby formed.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:29 PM on December 10, 2007 [14 favorites]


Seems to be populated with illiterate morons and 12 year olds.

I am truley sorry for your lots

Damn you December.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:31 PM on December 10, 2007


Hm, I figured that babby guy was just an idiot but he appears to be a foreigner with an extremely loose grasp of the english language.
posted by puke & cry at 10:46 PM on December 10, 2007


A visit to Yahoo! Answers should be a mandatory checkpoint on the way to posting a callout in MetaTalk for bad behaviour. Sometimes, you just don't know how good you have things.
posted by dg at 11:38 PM on December 10, 2007


I ran into Yahoo Answers when looking for something on a used digicam. The answer marked best was terrible.. Just "check the manual", without even providing a download link.

The answer marked best was also completely wrong (as in, the manual was ambiguous/wrong). Hmm...
posted by Chuckles at 11:45 PM on December 10, 2007


Ya, that comment doesn't make sense... All I'm saying is, best answer checks must suck everywhere equally.
posted by Chuckles at 11:46 PM on December 10, 2007


Sometimes "best answers" can be voted on after the question time frame closes. Or sometimes a best answer is never chosen. I recently got an email saying my answer from ten months ago had been chosen as best.

The quality there is usually pretty low. I've answered some questions there, but it's often so cluttered with stupid (mostly points-whoring) that it's only worth it when I've been extremely bored.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:31 AM on December 11, 2007


Based off of my one sample ('how is babby formed' changed my life), I'm going to say they are a group of erudite dadaists. The bar has been raised, friends.
posted by SassHat at 6:23 AM on December 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


There are a few AskMe users who feel compelled to answer every single question, usually by providing incorrect information, authoritatively phrased. We know who they are and can ignore them, but on Yahoo answers, it seems to be the entire community.
posted by nowonmai at 6:32 AM on December 11, 2007


Yeah, YA doesn't seem like it would be for me. Points systems and chatspeak make the baby Jesus cry.

Thing is, I doubt I could leave AskMe even if I wanted to. You see, I've developed a special part of my brain specifically for dealing with it.

And my AskMe lobe wants MORE ASKME.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:25 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yahoo Answers is a wonderful place ... if you want to do people's homework for them.

They don't even bother to disguise it.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:41 AM on December 11, 2007


Ask MetaFilter: Our website is better than their website
posted by Plutor at 7:49 AM on December 11, 2007


Only one way to be sure.
posted by Kwine at 7:58 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


/. did a followup up the Slate article and amidst the GNAA-level trolling there were some good comments. Like, someone pointed out how many of the Yahoo answers that were patently wrong were marked as "best answer". There does seem to be a fundamental disconnect between the idea of someone asking for advice out of ignorance, and then marking the best answer, presumably from a position extant residual ignorance. Some kind of community rating system for "best answer" might get around this, but then you get into issues of competition for popularity and cliques, etc.

Anyway, one /. comment stood out:
Here are some actual questions I've collected from Yahoo! Answers over time:

- What is the best way to hint to your parents that you are pregnant?
- How do my mum and dad want to renew my wedding vow?
- Do lesbian cheerleaders really exist?
- How powerful does a telescope have to be to see the moon?
- How can I master the art of Levitation?
- Swimming at the waterslides and have to pee really bad... What to do??
- My BODY is my own ENEMY? WHAT would you do if YOU were IN my POSITION?
- What kind of shampoo does Ozzy Osbourne use?
- My nipples are wierd???!!?
- Is it true if you put blood in someones food they will go crazy?
- How many years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds are in 200300 if you divide it by 360?
- Do female animals have G Spot?
- Unfortunately, I have very little common sense.
- Is there a way to make my nostrils bigger without surgery?
- Do mice really explode???
- Automatic toilets scare me. Am I alone?

posted by meehawl at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Only one way to be sure.

"Thanks for your answer. You've earned 2 points!
Get 2 points for Answering a question and 10 points for a best answer."

Come on Kwine.... 12 points for your pal jessamyn!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 AM on December 11, 2007


YAHOO ANSWERS IS AWESOME BCUZ UR GAY
posted by klangklangston at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2007


" Do your part in making the community a safe and enriching place by treating each other with integrity, decency, and respect.

Read more details in our Community Guidelines. "


Can we get that underneath the posting box?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:46 AM on December 11, 2007


With tongue firmly implanted in cheek, I posted the following answer at YA:

"Ask Metafilter is a great community of people who actually give answers to the question that is asked. I find it very useful. Many of the users actually use correct spelling and grammar, as well, which I find very helpful."

LOL suckit h8rs!
posted by Lynsey at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2007


I would be remiss if I did not link to the great Metachat->Metatalk->Yahoo! Answers bad question thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 AM on December 11, 2007


Wait...what is Jessamyn doing in Dubai?
posted by IndigoRain at 11:04 AM on December 11, 2007




IndigoRain: It is all part of Matt's plan to have 24hr omnipresent moderation. Cortex will soon be deployed to Siberia.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:17 AM on December 11, 2007


(That's where I'm a viking.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:23 AM on December 11, 2007


What is Jessamyn doing in Dubai?

Spending all those air miles gift cards that mathowie pays me in?
Getting a sunburn?
... an awful lot of hashish, dude!

Actually I was speaking at a library conference and I'm heading back on Thursday. Today I'm in Abu Dhabi. Prognosis for meetup: poor. if you guys are awake I guess I can go to sleep now, huh?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:32 AM on December 11, 2007


And amongst all this, how does grupthink compare? Or is it too much of an orange...er...apple...
posted by ikahime at 11:46 AM on December 11, 2007


Come on Kwine.... 12 points for your pal jessamyn!

Don't spend them all in one place!
posted by Kwine at 12:02 PM on December 11, 2007


The only thing I remember about grupthink is that the people that run it self-linked here a couple times. That's about all I need to know.
posted by puke & cry at 1:52 PM on December 11, 2007


Did you get to see the sites in Dubai? I want pics!
posted by IndigoRain at 3:27 PM on December 11, 2007


(Or the sights?)
posted by IndigoRain at 3:28 PM on December 11, 2007


If only there were some sort of mefi profile widget that would display a link to her feed on a popular photo-management website.

IF ONLY!
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:37 PM on December 11, 2007


Okay Cortex. :P So I didn't look at her profile. Thanks for the link.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:41 PM on December 11, 2007


No sweat. I was going more for Wacky Silly than Bitchy Hectory, but I'm not sure I hit the tone on that one. Cheers!
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:03 PM on December 11, 2007


When I was a teen, there was a popular local band in St. Louis called Since Hector Was a Pup.

They were pretty good.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:37 PM on December 11, 2007


Did you get to see the sights in Dubai?

I went to the public library! Today in Abu Dhabi I am going to the National Library. But yeah, Flickr is banned in the UAE so the only uploader I can use is the one-at-a-time one built into the site so it's been slow going. I head home tomorrow night.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:12 PM on December 11, 2007


Does YA not allow answers to questions that have a best answer marked? I logged into yahoo for the first time in years to give "How is babby formed?" a shot, because it seems like an interesting challenge. Giving an answer that is complete and accurate, but starts at a fundamental enough level to help the questioner, makes for good practice in breaking down concepts.

They may be unfamiliar with the act of sex. They may be unfamiliar with the opposite sex's genitals, or even their own. They might not know what a cell is. Stopping at every level to see what your assumptions are is a worthwhile writing exercise. But I don't seem to be able to answer after creating a YA profile.
posted by longtime_lurker at 5:27 AM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


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