Getting Answers on the go!

8 10 2007

Just a few days ago, Yahoo! Search announced that they would be integrating Yahoo! Answers with their mobile search service.

Yahoo! Answers is a website where you can ask *any* question (well, within reason) and have it answered by a community of over 95 million users worldwide.  I explored this concept in depth earlier this year, rising to one of the highest ranking members on Yahoo! Answers in Australia (and even being profiled on the Yahoo! Answers Australia blog).

In general, a question posed on Yahoo! Answers will get replies within a matter of a few minutes, from a range of opinions, ranging from genuine experts through to users trying to “game” the system (users get “points” for replying, so there can be a number of junk replies to any given question).

My thoughts at the time were that this “informal learning” paradigm would be well suited to the mobile medium – short questions and brief answers, with an around-the-clock, global answering community.  However, at that time, the service was not yet mobile – accessing Yahoo! Answers on a PDA browser was pretty much impossible, let alone a mobile phone.

Yahoo! Search’s latest announcement means that the brief answers submitted to Yahoo! Answers will now be accessible using mobile search… which brings part of the Yahoo! Answers paradigm to mobile devices.  It’s only a matter of time now before users should be able to submit questions for answering using the mobile devices too. 🙂

Keep an eye out… in the future, Yahoo! Answers may provide you with a personalised question-and-answer service in the palm of your hand. 🙂

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One response

8 10 2007
Tony Vincent

Answer sites like Yahoo! Answers are fun to read. Even with handhelds without WiFi, I would beam fifth grade students pages from Yahooligans (now Yahoo! Kids) Ask Earl. Nowadays Ask Earl seems to be flash-based and won’t render correctly on many screens. 😦

On my wireless handheld, I enjoy http://iphone.fluther.com/. It’s another real-person-answering service.

These kinds of sites need to be introduced to students very carefully. Students will want to ask questions that they themselves can answer on the own by searching. Answer services should not be used to find facts unless the student has done research and found little or no information. Questions services are best suited for opinions, theories. experiences, and local information. For example, I asked on Fluther a couple weeks ago how much I should pay my younger sister for living in my house while I’m out of the country. I wrote what I expected her to do and what I’d supply. Three gracious Fluther users chimed in with their insights.

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