Google Answers rises from the ashes
December 13, 2007 9:35 AM   Subscribe

After shutting its virtual doors, Google Answers is set to return, this time modeled on Yahoo Answers' no moderators, no limits, no rules concept. If paid researchers is what you need to answer your question, go to Uclue. Or just keep it green.
posted by HotPatatta (26 comments total)

 
Because Yahoo Answers is such a great source of reliable information, right?
posted by p3on at 9:42 AM on December 13, 2007


From the comments (well, comment) on the "set to return" link:

Why is google investing in something which is already lost to yahoo..

Heh.
posted by cortex at 9:46 AM on December 13, 2007


If you are clever enough to type in just the right questions, you'll discover that the crew is expendable, the deadly alien life-form is valuable, and the android is a company stooge.
posted by hermitosis at 9:47 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yahoo answers isn't entirely useless. Asking Something important is bound to be an exercise in futility, but if you want to know who that guy was in the 1970s movie about banjos, you might find it works.
posted by Autarky at 9:48 AM on December 13, 2007


In other yahoo news: shortcut.yahoo.com. Way to "improve" yr blog with useless ads, crufty graphics and general bollockery.
posted by bonaldi at 9:56 AM on December 13, 2007


Ooh, ooh, I know the answer, autarky! It was Steve Martin!
posted by ook at 10:40 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well Google can hardly do a worse job than Yahoo, who seemed to give up on the 'knowledge search' idea almost instantly, and quite happily allowed it to grow into a hangout for morons and racists.
posted by influx at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2007


The only question I ever posted to Yahoo was answered by someone who didn't understand it and pasted in some irrelevant information from Wikipedia. According to her profile she had answered thousands of queries.

A useless "service."
posted by cogneuro at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2007


cogneuro, that was actually one of Jimbo Wales's sockpuppets.
posted by cortex at 11:25 AM on December 13, 2007


I actually used Yahoo answers once and got a good reply within a very short time. Admittedly, I only used it when I'd already used my AskMe question that week.
posted by knapah at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2007


Why is google investing in something which is already lost to yahoo...
Maybe because they can't quite wrap their minds around the concept of 'losing to yahoo' at anything?
posted by wendell at 1:28 PM on December 13, 2007


Google regularly throws everything it stumbles over against the walls to see what sticks. One way to success is having a few very good ideas; another is having a hell of a lot of ideas, some of which might turn out to be good.

In this case (and Askville and all the other copcyats), I'm pretty sure that there is no 'idea' involved, it's just an attempt to emulate and scale AskMetafilter. Seriously. (I'm too lazy to check the timeline, though.) What they've all got wrong though is that first you've got to gather some relatively smart, loquacious people, let them build a community that implicitly gives them incentive to help each other out, then you start asking them questions. Otherwise, it's just going to be morlock-and-load scattershot stupidsauce™.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:29 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


morlock-and-load scattershot stupidsauceā„¢
awesome phraseicity there, wonderchick. Since you have pre-emptively (and wisely) trademarked it, how much for a limited use Internet and North American Publication license? (Google shows 0 prior uses of 'morlock-and-load'... have you trademarked that separately?)
posted by wendell at 4:59 PM on December 13, 2007


I need me some internet lawyerin'! Stat!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:20 PM on December 13, 2007


Why is this posted pre-release.... I can't wait to read the post where google officially launches this yahoo photocopy and then the post where they shut it down again. I <3 the google
posted by matimer at 5:22 PM on December 13, 2007


HOW IS GOOGLE ANSWERS FORMED? HOW GIRL GET PRAGNENT?
posted by JHarris at 5:23 PM on December 13, 2007


(For those of you who don't get it, I'll spoil the joke. There is a drawback to Yahoo Answers' approach....)
posted by JHarris at 5:25 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good gravy, I'd never actually read the content there before. It's like YouTube without the video. Clearly their site machinery (2 points per answer, 10 points per "best" answer) is aimed at bumping up page views rather than encouraging quality. On the other hand, apparently major corporations are members of the site.
posted by whir at 5:58 PM on December 13, 2007


Just if you can't be bothered to check Yahoo answers out, here's a smattering of unadulterated questions from the front page right now:

Need help on howrse?

How do i get nick ame in Yahoo Messneger? How come AIM don't work for me?

87 chevy 350 using gas?

Please Help!?

Is there any songs concerning this situation?

if i were a bird?
posted by Wolfdog at 6:07 PM on December 13, 2007


Why is google investing in something which is already lost to yahoo..

For the same reason Yahoo is investing in something which is already lost to Google. Microsoft, too. And Wendy's certainly isn't as profitable as McDonalds. There can be more than one or something, and the best doesn't always stay the best in any industry (I'm looking at you, IBM. And GM. And TWA. And lots of others.)
posted by davejay at 7:11 PM on December 13, 2007


JHarris... you're an evil, evil man and I will get noticebly less work done today as I periodically break down wheezing in laughter.
posted by lodurr at 6:56 AM on December 14, 2007


I need me some internet lawyerin'! Stat!

I hear AskMetafilter is a great place to get legal advice...
posted by junkbox at 7:02 AM on December 14, 2007


In this case (and Askville and all the other copcyats), I'm pretty sure that there is no 'idea' involved, it's just an attempt to emulate and scale AskMetafilter. Seriously. (I'm too lazy to check the timeline, though.)

I think Google Answers predated AskMe (earliest AskMe I can find is from late 2003, and GA was around by the end of 2001), but they're orthogonal ideas... GA's original model was kind of cool, in that you were essentially getting a comprehensively written mini-article written for you for $20. It tanked because they did a terrible job marketing it, and of the people who did use the service, fully half of them had no idea what the service was intended for, and would squawk loudly about only getting an hour's worth of work put into their $2 question.

Disclaimer: I was a GA Researcher, and it very quickly became apparent what sorts of questions to stay away from: chatfilter. On AskMe, they just get deleted, because the mods are really on top of things; on GA, some hapless soul would write 1000 words on someone's hypothetical (posted at the minimal value, of course), then get reamed by the poster for not being sufficiently thorough. Since your ability to make money through the service was completely dependent on your answer rating staying high enough, this created all sorts of perverse incentives.

I don't think the new model of Google Q&A is going to work any better than Yahoo Answers, because they suffer from the same fundamental problem: an unmanageable user base. The internet is full of unfathomably stupid people who demand to be heard, and if you don't have a pretty proactive strategy to drive them out, shit falls apart incredibly fast. AskMe works mostly because the number of people involved is still fairly small, and the really officious ones get driven out by community pressure (and the offensive content is pretty reliably removed within an hour of it being posted, thus preventing total derails. Er, usually). The moment you get rid of that community-level safety valve, you necessarily have to put your trust in administrators or moderators. If your user base gets big enough, administrative overhead becomes a nightmare, and you stop being able to drive out Youtube-style commenters. I see nothing in this description to suggest the Google even recognizes this problem, much less has a strategy to combat it.
posted by Mayor West at 7:27 AM on December 14, 2007


And at the same time - or thereabouts - Google also launches another user-created-reference site
posted by stevil at 10:33 PM on December 14, 2007


"The internet is full of unfathomably stupid people who demand to be heard, and if you don't have a pretty proactive strategy to drive them out, shit falls apart incredibly fast."

And this is exactly why it'll probably be a dismal failure, just like Yahoo Answers has become. I see Yahoo Answers come up a lot in searches and some of the answers that I see on there are just ridiculous. If I wasn't in a hurry, I'd find some examples. Actually, just look at the current crop of questions and some of their answers. There seems to be no penalty for useless/off topic answers at all.
posted by drstein at 5:22 AM on December 15, 2007


I think Google Answers predated AskMe (earliest AskMe I can find is from late 2003, and GA was around by the end of 2001), but they're orthogonal ideas...

Only orthogonal along one or two of several possible axes, I'd say. Which means I don't know quite what.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:22 PM on December 15, 2007


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