Yahoo Answers

November 6, 2007 at 1:46 am (Library 2.0) (, , , )

I’ve been answering questions over at Yahoo! Answers, as an experiment, because it’s kind of fun, and the site could use some librarians to answer the questions.  I just browse random sections and look at questions that don’t seem too much like people looking for direct answers to fill-in-the blank homework assignments, and aren’t people asking rhetorical questions, like “My boyfriend said this, what do you think it means?”

So far, I’ve answered maybe 20 questions there.  I always provide a summary of the information i’ve found as well as a link to one or more sources that i found.  I often suggest that if they’re looking for information for a report, that their library will probably have some books or databases that would provide more in-depth and reputable information, and i always sign it as “your friendly neighborhood librarian.”

Of the 20 or so questions, i’ve gotten 5 “best answers” which is pretty cool.

Sometimes when i open up a question to look at it, i’ll see a well written and informative answer there, so i’ll let it be.  Most of the time, the answers will be completely unhelpful, like “I think you could like, just practice and that should work.” In answer to a question about voice training.

If you’re looking for exercises for grad students to get real-world reference experience in an online environment, Yahoo! Answers isn’t a bad way to go – students get some practice answering questions quickly (if you spend too much time on it, then your answer ends up buried under a dozen other answers) and informatively.  You get rewarded with points, and if you get a “best answer” vote, you get lots of points.

Along with getting practice, you’ll be adding value to something that a lot of students use, and taking an opportunity to subtly remind them that the library is always there as a resource, too.  (only if you self-identify as a librarian, or suggest library resources, of course.)



  1. Susan said,

    I’ve been reading metafilter for seven? or eight? years now — I’m addicted to the whole thing, but the questions are awesome. Not only are there answers, but discussions about answers (which occasionally get heated, but it’s teh intartoobs). It’s great fun to read. Occasionally I respond, but I read religiously… 🙂

  2. Mary Buck said,

    Hi! Take a look at Slam the Boards –!.
    I only participated the first time (in August, I think) and keep meaning to do more, but haven’t cleared my decks to do so. Keep up the good work!

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