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Answers

Note: As of late 2006, Google Answers isn’t accepting new questions. You can still browse and search existing questions and answers. A similar service, Yahoo! Answers, is available at answers.yahoo.com.

Unlike Google Answers, the Yahoo! service is free of charge. Questions are answered by unpaid volunteers who may not have any qualifications or experience.

Having trouble creating a query to find the information you seek? Don’t have time to research the topic yourself? Consider asking a reference librarian, an experienced online researcher, or Google Answers, which, for a fee of your choosing, provides assistance from researchers with expertise in online searching.

If your query returns few results or none, there may be a link to Google Answers on the results page. Otherwise, visit answers.google.com.

Reluctant to use Google Answers? Think you can find the information you want if you search a bit longer? If you feel that way, you’re not alone. Nevertheless, many people who have asked questions of Google Answers are now fans of the service. Not only does it save them time, but the answers they get are packed with useful information and links. It’s a wonderful service that’s well worth your checking out, whether you’re a novice or an experienced searcher.

Screen shot of the Google Answers home page

Here’s how it works:

  • Enter a question.
  • Specify an amount between US$2 and US$200 that you’re willing to pay for an answer. Google adds on a US$.50 listing fee, which you are charged regardless of whether your question is answered or not.
  • A Google Answers researcher will search for the information you want and post an answer. The researchers are screened and approved independent contractors who get paid for posting “answers” to the site.
  • You will be notified via email when any responses are posted to your question, unless you specify in your Google Answers’ Profile that you would rather not receive status information on your questions.

Before posting your first question, check out Google’s tips for getting a better answer to your question, which can be found on the web at answers.google.com/answers/help.html.

You’ll need a Google Answers Account to ask a question. (You can search previous questions and answers without an account.) Provide your email address, a password, and a nickname. (If you already have a Google Account — to use with Google Alerts, for instance — you’ll still need to choose a nickname, specify when Google Answers should send you email, and agree to the Terms of Service for Google Answers.) Your nickname will be shown on every Google Answers question, answer, or comment that you post.

Then enter the topic of your question, your question, the amount between US$2 and US$200 you’re willing to pay for an answer, and the category most appropriate for your question. For example:

Subject:

Enter the topic of your question for our researchers (e.g. “Hiking in New Mexico”).

Nina Totenberg, NPR legal affairs correspondent, birthday, education, and degree

Question:

The more details you provide, the better the results you’ll receive.

When was Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio's (NPR) legal affairs correspondent, born, where was she educated, and what degrees does she have? Did she attend law school?

Price:

Set a price between $2.00 and $200.00.

$2.00

(Google Answers bills your credit card this amount after a researcher answers your question.)

Category:

Select the category most appropriate for your question.

Reference, Education and News > General Reference

The more you’re willing to spend on an answer, the more likely a researcher will answer it and the more likely the answer will be comprehensive.

When a Google Answers researcher or anyone else writes a response to your question, the answer and/or comments will be posted to Google Answers. You may request in your Google Answers’ Profile to be notified by email either once a day or whenever there is new activity with any of your questions.

A screen shot of an answer posted on Google Answers.

After a researcher has answered your question, you are given an opportunity to rate the answer from one star (very poor answer) to five stars (great answer), provide comments that anyone who uses Google Answers can access, and tip the researcher between US$1 and US$100, if you feel that you have received an exceptional answer.

Click on a researcher’s handle to see the ratings and comments that researcher has received from users who have posted questions. You may specify which researcher(s) should deal with your question when you submit it.

You can search or browse previously asked questions, both those that have been answered and those that haven’t. At the bottom of the Google Answers home page, find questions (some with answers) by either:

  • Entering search terms.
  • Clicking on one of the topic headings.
  • Selecting a link to a recently asked question.
  • Clicking on the view all the questions link.

Screen shot of links for browsing previously asked questions.

By default, Google Answers displays questions, their associated comments, and their answers in reverse chronological order (most recently asked question is listed first). Click on either the Date or Price links just above all the questions to sort on that field. When you sort by date, a triangular icon indicates whether the field is sorted with the most recent listed first (triangle points down) or is sorted with the oldest listed first (triangle points up). Click on the triangle to reverse the order.

You’ll find answers there to many already asked questions, including

Answers to many questions can be found on the web. Users also seek and obtain answers to questions of a more personal nature,

Some of the answers are indexed by Google and then searchable through Google’s web search.

For more information on Google Answers visit answers.google.com/answers/help.html and answers.google.com/answers/faq.html. To see what users are saying about the service and how they are using it, visit answers.google.com/answers/testimonials.html.

Exercises

These problems give you practice in asking questions and in browsing those that have been posted to Google Answers.

  1. View a recently asked question.
  2. View a recently answered question.
  3. Click on the “view all questions” link in the lower right corner of the Google Answers home page and browse some of the questions that have been answered.
  4. Look up the answer to the question “How can I rid my apartment of ants?”
  5. Look up in Google Answers whether clicking on an unsubscribe or remove link in a spam message does what it’s advertised to do.
  6. Look up in Google Answers the recommended gratuity to give to the server when purchasing take-out food.
  7. Review tips for great answers, which you can access by clicking on the “Tips for great results” link that appears in the border of the box for entering your question.
  8. Find Jessamyn West’s article about her experience as a Google Answers researcher.

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This page was last modified on: Tuesday March 13, 2007

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By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy & create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.

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