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Yahoo! Answers, A Librarian's Worst Nightmare 252

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the group-think-not-good-think dept.
Slate has an interesting look at the realm of online question and answer forums. Yahoo! Answers is boasting over 120 million users and 400 million answers placing it just behind Wikipedia for most visited education/reference site on the internet. While this may be a great insight into crowd mentality and search preferences, it seems to be a "complete disaster as a traditional reference tool." "For educators fretting that the Internet is creating a generation of 'intellectual sluggards,' the problem isn't just that Yahoo!'s site helps ninth-graders cheat on their homework. It's that a lot of the time, it doesn't help them cheat all that well. [...] Like Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia isn't perfect. But for savvy browsers who know how to use it, Wikipedia is an invaluable source of factual information. In the last two years, there's been a heated debate over whether Wikipedia is as trustworthy as Encyclopedia Britannica. This obscures a crucial point: Wikipedia is at least reliable enough that such a question can be asked. Take my word for it--no one is going to make any such claims about Yahoo! Answers any time soon."
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Yahoo! Answers, A Librarian's Worst Nightmare

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  • No (Score:5, Funny)

    by gustgr (695173) <{rondina} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:48PM (#21648041) Homepage
    This [xkcd.com] is a librarian's worst nightmare.
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:48PM (#21648045) Homepage Journal
    Answers: $5
    Good Answers: $10
    Correct Answers: $20
    Well-researched Answers complete with reference: time and materials

    Dumb looks are still free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rwven (663186)
      I'm still wondering why this is a Libertarians worst nightmare. Maybe my local librarian has some books on phonics I can borrow...
    • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:28PM (#21649985) Homepage Journal

      At least that's better than the crap standard always trotted out - the "Encyclopedia Britannica:.

      "been a heated debate over whether Wikipedia is as trustworthy as Encyclopedia Britannica"

      Go and grab an older copy, and see all the crap that was in there as "science" - a lot of it with a racist bent, or advocating social darwinism. The newer editions aren't any better, in that errors continue to be propounded.

      Case in point - back in the '70s, a joke article about "Thomas Crapper, inventor of the flush toilet" appeared in the April edition of Scientific American (iirc, it was in one of Martin Gardner's columns). The editors of Britannica, not knowing how to read a calendar, or being unfamiliar with April Fools (they could look it up :-) and with a total lack of awareness, republished it as fact for years and years, even though it was easy enough to disprove if they had done ANY secondary checking of facts. The book cited in the article didn't exist, though several others, all "full of crap" satirizations, did ...

      Fuck Britanicca. Overpriced, high-pressure sales tactics ("buy the encyclopedia and it'll help your kids in school" ... yeah, right), built-in obsolescence, and a VERY slow update/corrections policy. By one estimate, 10% of all articles are off.

      • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:54PM (#21650613) Homepage Journal
        Case in point - back in the '70s, a joke article about "Thomas Crapper, inventor of the flush toilet" appeared in the April edition of Scientific American (iirc, it was in one of Martin Gardner's columns).

        Thomas Crapper craps up Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

        Fuck Britanicca. Overpriced, high-pressure sales tactics ("buy the encyclopedia and it'll help your kids in school" ... yeah, right), built-in obsolescence, and a VERY slow update/corrections policy. By one estimate, 10% of all articles are off.

        I think Britanica is awesome. Sure, Wikipedia can be useful, but at some point, the bad writing just drives me nuts. In, Britannica the articles are generally well written. Paid, professional editors work wonders, and the lack of them is telling in Wikipedia.

        Even the previously mentioned Crapper article, is well, crap. Two immediately horrible things jump out. First, a paragraph begins "Yet another purported explanation is that ". It's a choppy sentence that implies the tail end of an enumeration where none exists.
  • by AuMatar (183847) on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:48PM (#21648051)
    I don't really use any of those Q&A type sites, but it seems to me that their purpose isn't to be a reference site. Their purpose is to be small, simple aid if you have nowhere better to look. As such, they seem to work and most of the time get you a decent answer, or at least a place to start. The fact is, for most questions in this world you don't need to do a great deal of research, you just want a quick close enough answer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QMalcolm (1094433)
      This is true mostly. For instance if I was trying to find a DVD of the Athens 2004 Olympics opening ceremonies, or something rare or obscure or whatever, I'd just pop it on some guy on Yahoo Answers to dig through ebay or craigslist to find it for me. If I want to know about Greek mythology I'd obviously choose the Wikipedia page over whatever Yahoo has to offer.
    • by eln (21727) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:23PM (#21648527) Homepage
      True. That's why if I want a well-researched answer, I submit my question as an Ask Slashdot article.
      • True. That's why if I want a well-researched answer, I submit my question as an Ask Slashdot article.

        Ah, so that's the reason why questions get answered 3 months later!
    • Yes and no, sorta (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338)
      Well, yes and no, sorta.

      If used as you describe, true, it's _sometimes_ better than nothing.

      Then again, sometimes worse than nothing. An incomplete, distorted understanding of something may actually compound the problem, instead of making it any better. E.g., an incomplete, distorted mis-understanding of each other is largely why we have a perpetual conflict in the Middle East, or Islamist nuts blowing themselves up. E.g., an equally unqualified monkey reinforcing an already wrong idea, might just give peop
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273)

      Their purpose is to be small, simple aid if you have nowhere better to look.

      Yahoo Answers is hardly even that. If you've used it for a total of an hour, you'll probably see it's more like a community site for people interested in discussing various topics. A lot of questions there are rhetorical and can't even be answered... Others are asked not because the one asking wants an actual answer, yet others seem to do it as some weird way of trolling. And that's just about the people asking questions. Those answering them are often even worse.

      Things like "Why is the sky blue?" Answers

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by doublem (118724)
      You might want to read the site:

      http://yahooanswerssucks.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

      It's one person's attempt to explore the stupidity that is Yahoo Answers. The truth is intelligent, well researched answers get you banned, while mindless drivel gets you a "Best Answer" rating real quick.
  • by Malevolent Tester (1201209) on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:49PM (#21648059) Journal
    How could a service that provides such vital information as this [yahoo.com], this [yahoo.com] and this [yahoo.com] ever be considered anything other than a vital font of knowledge?
    • by idiotwithastick (1036612) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:29PM (#21648605)
      A sampling of what I see on answers.yahoo.com (YMMV)
      • Did the Milwaukee Brewers really just give or are in the process of giving Eric Gagne $10 million for 1 year?
      • What is a hydroxide ion?
      • I have TimeWarner Cable and got the HD Receiver...But I don't wanna pay monthly!?
      • I need to find a free download, no buying it, of oregon trail deluxe, can you help me?
      • How often should I feed my puppies?
      • What can u use for personal femine hygene while pregnant?
      • My hands get cold,fingers numb,and skin does not bounce back.what causes this?
      • What does it mean if I dream about my crush?
      • In the game Yu-Gi-Oh GX Tag Force 2 why do I get a penalty after each duel?
      • Where can i play inuyasha games online?
      • Who is Gaspard Ulliel currently dating???
      • Anyone see Marion Gaborik fly?
      • How much do used iPods go for?
      • I think I'm ugly and not a good person?
      Now I understand how Yahoo! Answers is the perfect reference tool. Ask it any question you want, and some guy might come and give an answer to you...
    • by Frizzle Fry (149026) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:48PM (#21648843) Homepage
      Actually, the vital font of knowledge is comic sans.
    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:54PM (#21648911)
      Is that you can't flame moronic little fuckwits who ask shite questions or give shite answers. That's what made Usenet useful.

       
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by humina (603463)

      I like the attempt to answer a real question though:

      Who is Fidel Castro?

      Best Answer:
      Before returning to Cuba to lead the Communist Revolution he was a pitcher for the New York Yankees.

  • I didn't RTFA, but are they really implying there's some kind of relevant comparison between Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers???
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mustpax (983305)
      To quote Maeby from Arrested Development: "that's like comparing apples and a fruit no one's ever heard of."
      • Yahoo! Answers in Wikipedia.

        From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo_answers [wikipedia.org] :

        Yahoo! Answers is a community-driven knowledge market website launched by Yahoo! on December 13, 2005 that allows users to ask questions of other users and answer other users' questions. The site gives members the chance to earn points as a way to encourage participation and is based on Naver's Knowledge iN.

        [ a few paragraphs later... ]

        Criticism

        The site has been criticized as being more about social networking than providing accurate information.[5]

        References

        5. ^ Leibenluft, Jacob (2007-12-07). A Librarian's Worst Nightmare: Yahoo! Answers, where 120 million users can be wrong.


        Wikipedia in Yahoo! Answers

        How do I make an entry on Wikipedia?

                * 3 hours ago
                * - 3 days left to answer.

        Answers (0)

        Be the first to answer this question.


        Any questions?
    • by owlnation (858981)

      I didn't RTFA, but are they really implying there's some kind of relevant comparison between Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers???
      Wikipedia is on another fundraising drive. This certainly is NOT news, so it's most likely a just shill to promote wikipedia.
    • by Choad Namath (907723) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:09PM (#21649087)
      Exactly. You don't use Yahoo! Answers to learn basic facts, you use it for questions that are more suited for human answers. You ask "What hotel is near the good bars in Portland, Oregon?" not "What's the melting point of Sn?"
  • What do Librarians have to do with this pointless rant?

    I would argue that a Librarian's worst nightmare is a book worm.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)
      Nothing apparently...
      http://www.slate.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2179393 [slate.com]
      TFA doesn't even use the word librarian once.
      Just trolling for page hits I assume.
      • by Otter (3800)
        TFA doesn't even use the word librarian once.

        Huh? Take another look at your own link!

        • by merreborn (853723)
          It's only used in the title. The actual text of the article doesn't contain the word
          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

            by rk (6314) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:42PM (#21649489) Journal

            Man, I hear you. I read this book once, called "The Holy Bible" and I never found out ANYTHING about a bible, much less a holy one. Instead it was a bunch of stuff about this "THE LORD" guy and a bunch of people that followed him or didn't follow him, then some Roman thugs nail his son to a tree. After that it didn't really go anywhere (a couple other guys get nailed to trees, too, but it's kind of anticlimactic after the first one), but it had a pretty spectacular ending where THE LORD gets some payback that I imagine some special effects guys could go crazy with if they ever made it into a movie.

            Overall, it was kind of disappointing, though. Never did find out about a bible and whoever wrote it really needed their editor to reel it in.

    • by jacquesm (154384)
      a real life librarians worst nightmare is a fire.
  • The only question I remember answering was whether or not someone should change his name to Stephen Colbert...
  • yahoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:58PM (#21648191)
    Yahoo! Answers--the place to go to get your question answered by a certified yahoo.
  • so what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    we don't want to regulate videogames, slashdot agrees: this is a nanny state

    we don't want to regulate online dating, slashdot agrees: this is a nanny state

    likewise:
    we don't want regulate wikipedia or yahoo answers: THIS IS A NANNY STATE

    people ask random friends advise all the time. lots of it is pointless or toxic or ignorant. people need to use their minds to filter the good from the bad. we need to learn to trust people to make decisions themselves

    end of non-story
    • by s4m7 (519684)

      slashdot agrees:
      There you have it, the wisdom of the hive-mind decrees: do not question the wisdom of the hive-mind.
    • by eln (21727)
      I think a good portion of Slashdot would object to the term "nanny state" used in just about any context as unnecessarily provocative, and I seriously doubt that all of Slashdot agrees with you on all of those points.

      The only thing all of Slashdot can really agree on is that this^Wnext year is the Year of Linux on the Desktop. Anything else is just going to start an argument.
    • What the fuck are you talking about?

      This topic has absolutely nothing to do with "regulation" or a "nanny state".

      Please try and compose something vaguely coherant in future. And no, randomly inserting colons and typing something in capitals doesn't magically make your point clear.
    • by Xelios (822510)
      With every answer a few mouse clicks away maybe it's time we start teaching children how to filter the good information from the bad, instead of just teaching them how to regurgitate facts on a piece of paper. Wikipedia is a great research tool when used correctly, Yahoo Answers is a great way to get a quick "close enough" answer to a question that's been bugging you. If kids were taught this simple distinction this debate would be pointless.

      This "problem" of too much information is only going to get wor
  • by Vampyre_Dark (630787) on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:59PM (#21648219)
    If Yahoo answers doesn't let them cheat all that well, than why is there a problem? The student who did the proper research still gets a passing grade, and the student who tried to 'cheat' did suffers for it.

    How is this any different than 20 years ago?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      I agree with this! I was a tutor several years ago and had to check lab reports. The experiments they did have been done for the last 20 years and copies are widely available. It's still difficult to see who copied (although that university uses an electronic plagiarism database for almost everything by now, that compares with locally known work but also the internet), especially if it could have been two groups working together. Should I actually mind if two groups work together if it leads to a nice job?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ResidntGeek (772730)

      If Yahoo answers doesn't let them cheat all that well, than why is there a problem?

      Because the students are learning things which are incorrect. They're going through life not only ignorant, but actually misinformed.

      The student who did the proper research still gets a passing grade, and the student who tried to 'cheat' did suffers for it.

      This will sound like heresy to many, but there *are* things in life which matter more than grades. Things like level of knowledge and understanding, which aren't really r

  • by mbulge (1004558) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:00PM (#21648231)

    Why not just go to the source?

    According to Yahoo Answers:

    Resolved Question: Is Yahoo Answers reliable?

    Best Answer: No way.

    But then again it could be wrong. You can hardly trust something you read on that site.

  • I never got from the article (which for some inexplicable reason is linked to page 2, once again nice job editors.) what it has to do with reference librarians. TFA makes a good point that wikipedia has a definite leg up on yahoo answers in terms of accuracy. It also makes it pretty clear that isn't saying much. But do people really expect accuracy from a social-ask-and-answer site? IF some kid were to use this page as a reference and somehow cite it properly, I think it could lead to a good lesson for th

  • by justsomecomputerguy (545196) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:01PM (#21648243) Homepage
    where members can "score" the comments of others... Nah, it'd never work. Sure to collapse from its own inbred weight in MUCH LESS than a decade...
  • Approach (Score:5, Insightful)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:01PM (#21648251) Homepage
    Ok, like many of you when I was in school researching something I'd wander over to the card catalogue and find several books from different authors / publishers, absorb the relevant data from them and draw conclusions on correlated data that was supported by most of my references. How did I know the data in those books was correct? Often, they cited the same piece of work or research (usually unavailable to my library), so in a lot of cases even though I had different perspectives on a given topic I couldn't be 100% sure that the information presented there was correct, all I really had with my bibliography was the unspoken assurance that several publishers and authors weren't trying to trick me into believing something.

    Now-a-days Google is my card catalogue, Wikis and Answer sites are my reference material. I hold information I cull from the internet with the same amount of trust as the books I used to use. I'm not sure if I first heard it in high school or not but the same rule applies to both:

    Check your references before you even begin to draw conclusions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tilandal (1004811)
      That is of course total bull. For a book to show up at your library several things had to occur. #1) The author must have taken the time (ie money) to write the book. #2) The editor must have gone through the book. #3) A publisher must have thought that the book had enough merit to print. #4) A librarian must have thought that the book had enough merit to buy. By the time the book got into your hands it has been vetted at least 3 times. Maybe it has not been throughly researched but you can be assured tha
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vimh42 (981236)
      If I recall correctly, factual information had little to do with writing a research paper in highschool. What was important was writing a paper in the format requested, citing correctly and turning the paper in on time. Oh sure, I had a few teachers that might have checked my sources, but that was just to see if I used a variety of sources and not just one and made up extra citations to fill that requirement.

      I suppose all those papers taught me was that the truth is irrelevant. It's all about presentation.
  • All these types of stories make it as if there weren't unreliable sources prior to the current digital information age. Whatever happened to teaching students about how to use sources?
    • If you cut and paste from a book you have to either type it yourself, or else really cut and paste the page. Taking it from the interweb is so much easier.
  • I've cited Wikipedia almost exclusively in my college classes. I've never had an instructor say anything negative about it and most times I'm dinged for formatting issues rather than the content or sources of information.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by R2.0 (532027)
      Do you get your diploma by mail, with full credit for "life experience"?

      Or does your college have the word "community" in the title?
    • by rjh (40933)
      You have never had me as an instructor.

      Here (the University of Iowa's [uiowa.edu] Department of Computer Science [uiowa.edu]), the general policy is that Wikipedia is not an academic reference and citing it will get you dinged hard. Reading the Wiki is fine, but you have to go to print media for citations--even preprints of journal articles are considered suspect and only accepted grudgingly.

      In my experience talking to people at various institutions, very few places accept Wikipedia as a reference. I would suggest that you talk
      • by hurfy (735314)
        define print media

        Does that really mean peer reviewed journals? Because you can find just about anything in print claimed as fact.

        On the other hand, as i recall from prehistoric times, most teachers wanted 3 sources or some such thing. That would seem to leave out JUST referencing wikipedia. Do they not want that anymore? Or are the others right and his school is a tad underwhelming?

        The idea was that if 3 sources agree you are probably golden, if the 1st 3 don't agree you are going to have to keep digging a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SixFactor (1052912)
      I'd like to know what college you attend, as well as your major, so I can steer my kids away from said institution/field of study.

      Thanks!
    • "Good Old Coney Island College - Go Whitefish!"
    • by Rakishi (759894)
      Christ, as others have said please tell us where you went to school so we can avoid it like the plague. Even my middle school wouldn't accept wikipedia or any other encyclopedia as a source. The point of encyclopedias is to use them as a starting point not as an actual source of information. Actually I can't remember writing a paper where wikipedia would have been of any use as a source given how it provides so little in-depth information.
      • Actually I can't remember writing a paper where wikipedia would have been of any use as a source given how it provides so little in-depth information.

        CLICK!

        There is a great deal of information on the internet, but it's all a surface gloss of "knowledge", and there is very little depth on anything, anywhere.

        Even the science-oriented part of Yahoo Answers is a joke. You don't learn by bombarding "experts" with questions. You learn by hitting the books (or suitable analogues - I'm not a total Luddite.

    • by Hatta (162192)
      I never noticed wikipedia had so much information about clowning [wikipedia.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:10PM (#21648357)
    Margaret Thatcher wearing nothing but a thin layer of whipped cream.
  • as a "information" site.

    I've never came across "Yahoo! answers", but what's the difference between that and a forum somewhere in a desolate place?

    It reminds me at some bar, where I've never been other then in my imagination, in a inbred town where the town wiseman explains how the stars are actually firework that was shot too high while everyone nods enlightened.
  • Take my word for it--no one is going to make any such claims about Yahoo! Answers any time soon.

    I prefer to get my answers from a more reliable source:
    a more reliable source [yahoo.com]

  • So, should we tremble and fear the end of civilization whenever people gather and discuss opinions contrary to modern science? I think this has been tried in Galileo Galilei's times. People will always hold absurd, irrational, uninformed believes and try to spread them to others. Just the other day I had a work mailing list argument with a firm believer in homeopathy. After hearing how 30C onion extract repeatedly cured his cold, I offered to rid the humanity of this disease once and for all by dropping a b
  • In the last two years, there's been a heated debate over whether Wikipedia is as trustworthy as Encyclopedia Britannica. This obscures a crucial point: Wikipedia is at least reliable enough that such a question can be asked.

    I think Wikipedia is compared to Britannica because Wikipedia claims to be an encyclopedia. Yahoo! Answers makes no such claim and that is the reason a comparison between Yahoo! Answers and Britannica has not and will not be made. Yahoo! Answers does not claim to be anything more tha

  • >While this may be a great insight into crowd mentality and search preferences, it seems to
    >be a "complete disaster as a traditional reference tool."

    So, since we all agree that "traditional reference tools" are of such a great value, and do promote science and useful arts, we have to prevent modern technology making them and the librarians business model obsolete. Lets create a new kind of right, lets call it libraryright ©, to "protect" the librarys and librarians and their hard work from being
    • by muuh-gnu (894733)
      (damn, hit the send button too early):

      >While this may be a great insight into crowd mentality and search preferences, it seems to
      >be a "complete disaster as a traditional reference tool."

      So, since we all agree that "traditional reference tools" are of such a great value, and do promote science and useful arts, we have to prevent modern technology making them and the librarians business model obsolete. Lets create a new kind of right, lets call it libraryright ©, to "protect" the librarys and libr
  • by butterwise (862336) <butterwise AT gmail> on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:25PM (#21648559)
    I looked up how to open a pomegranate on Yahoo! Answers and ended up giving my two-year-old a lobotomy. Great.
  • Simple Mathematics (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LaskoVortex (1153471)
    Did any one do the math when they criticized on-line resources? It takes all of 3 ms to get thousands of possible answers to a question with an online search tool. Back in my undergrad days, if I needed to know something, it was 45 minutes before I could get to the library, get a stack of books and search the text myself. This type of inefficiency is mind-boggling these days. I'm almost 40 now, have all the requisite advanced degrees, and am pulling a damn good salary at one of the world's finest educationa
  • by DeadDecoy (877617) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:31PM (#21648619)
    Maybe if students are cheating off of Yahoo and Wikipedia, teachers aren't asking students challenging questions. In essence, they are asking 'fill in the blank', 'short answer', or 'multiple choice' questions that are easy to snag off an encyclopedic site. Instead of complaining about how such sites produce intellectual laggards, maybe we should think of how they can be used to enhance some complex thought process and their practical limitations. For instance, a teacher could ask a student to solve some physics question specialized for the class that involves more than one algorithm to solve. That would make it harder to google if the student doesn't understand the problem and know where to look. If they understand it, find a ready made solution, and apply it, then they should get some credit (more so if they cite their source). It's not enough that we want children with critical thinking skills. It's also important to have teachers with critical think skills as well. Otherwise, it's kind of moot when the students are more resourceful than the teacher.
  • by Squiffy (242681) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:32PM (#21648639) Homepage
    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?
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:33PM (#21648657)
    That the answers in Yahoo Answers were mostly created by hormonal twelve year olds and as such are complete utter bollocks.

    Get this. The person choosing the "best" answer is the same person who doesn't have a fucking clue and had to ask the question in the first place. I have no idea who thought that was a good idea, but I think they should get a medal for "The most ironic contribution to world knowledge".
     
    • by rueger (210566)
      God, you have totally summed up my experiences with Yahoo answers. The uninformed answering questions posed by the totally lost... what a great tool!
  • Why did the summary link to just the second page of a two page article? Here's the full article on one page [slate.com].

  • Yahoo! Answers is a remarkably bad place to obtain reliable information. There are exceptions, but the website consists mostly of people asking stupid questions and other people providing stupid answers.

    For a brief period of time, I answered a few questions on Yahoo! Answers with answers that were correct, comprehensive, and included sources for its claims. Yet I found that often, the person asking the question or other readers would choose or vote another person's comically poor answer as the "Best Answer"
  • by Dwedit (232252) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:37PM (#21648711) Homepage

    They need to do way instain mother> who kill thier babbys. becuse these babby cant frigth back?
    it was on the news this mroing a mother in ar who had kill her three
    kids. they are taking the three babby back to new york to lady to rest
    my pary are with the father who lost his chrilden ; i am truley sorry for your lots

    Anyone who reads somethingawful's weekend web should know how good Yahoo Answers is as a source of information... [somethingawful.com]
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:38PM (#21648715) Homepage
    Let me play devil's advocate here:

    Suppose you're a teacher or librarian....
    • Don't explicitly ban the use of Yahoo Answers or Wikipedia, but do make sure to ruthlessly demand that sources are cited.
    • When they do use Yahoo or Wikipedia, and come up with a blatantly incorrect bit, or don't cite any other sources whatsoever, come down hard, and fail their sorry asses on that paper.
    • Student learns valuable lesson, and learns to be generally skeptical of whatever they read from *any* source. Wikipedia, Britannica, and The New York Times are all rife with errors. With any luck, this will be one of the few things said student will remember long after he's done with your class.
    • If the student learns from his mistake, and you're a decent human being, offer to drop the bad grade at the end of the term. Learning from mistakes is an integral part of education, and if the student has demonstrated to indeed have learned the lesson, don't punish him for it!


    The more skeptical the students are, and the more they learn to think on their own, the better --- a truly great teacher will also encourage students to be skeptical of his lectures.

    I had a university professor who would intentionally make two subtle errors in derivations during Physics lectures that would cancel each other out, resulting in the correct solution at the end of the derivation.

    He'd mention in the next lecture that there were two such "mistakes" in the previous day's lecture, and would then assign a problem set that explicitly depended upon those two mistakes not being there. At the time, we hated him for it, but it was an absolutely fantastic way of making us learn the material through and through, and taught us to think on our own, rather than rote transcription of whatever was written on the board.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rimbo (139781)
      When I grew up, my Dad discovered FischerTechnik.

      One of the brilliant things about this (which I didn't find out until just last year) was that the diagrams on how to build things would deliberately hide steps. For example, in-between step two and step four something would be added on the back half that wasn't shown. You, the child trying to build the toy, had to figure out what was missing on your own to get the thing finished. At the time, I remember noticing it, but attributing it to sloppiness; it to
  • > Take my word for it--no one is going to make any such claims about Yahoo! Answers any time soon.
  • "For educators fretting that the Internet is creating a generation of 'intellectual sluggards' ..."

    Plato lamented how the invention of writing caused men to lose the ability -- formerly widespread, and held in great esteem -- to memorize tens of thousands of lines of verse (e.g. Homer's Iliad).

    The invention of the pocket calculator, and its subsequent widespread use in classrooms, raised similar complaints among math teachers in the 1970's.

    Every generation raises children conversant with the techno
  • by kjfitz (256432) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:49PM (#21649573) Homepage
    I use the CustomizeGoogle [customizegoogle.com] Forefox plugin to filter out all about.com and answer.com results. Makes life just a little bit simper.
  • by 1stdoc (959919) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:53PM (#21649615)

    Take my word for it--no one is going to make any such claims about Yahoo! Answers any time soon.
    [Citation needed]

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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