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The Stalwart submits: I was excited by the launch of Yahoo! Answers yesterday.  One thing that's always bugged me is how hard it is to get a simple question answered on the Internet. Let me explain what I mean.

If you look at most of the questions that Yahoo! Answers has featured, it would seem that most of these people would probably be better off trying a few Google searches.  "How do I become a movie extra?"...I'm sure there are plenty of websites that explain that.  "What makes people itch?"  "Is Michael Moore currently working on any new documentaries?"  All of these questions appear quite Googleable.  But I think that Yahoo! Answers will facilitate something deeper. Let me explain.

There are questions that search engines may never be equipped to answer, like "Does anyone know why there are fire trucks on the corner of 12th St and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan?" or "Is anyone else's Typepad running slow?" or "What sharecount should I use to understand the Microsoft announcement that came out 5 minutes ago?".  No doubt, there are people out there who can answer those questions, easily, and probably happily, but they may not be putting that data anywhere searchable, or in a timely manner.  Perhaps in three months someone will tell the story of the firetrucks outside of their apartment in their Livejournal, but that doesn't do much good now.

It looks like Yahoo Answers will come close to this, but as it is, it's still not ideally structured, probably because of the rigid categorization of the questions.  It's not obvious, to me, for example,where I'd put my firetrucks question. Not to sound all "2.0", but a tagging system, like that on del.icio.us might work better. All that being said, Yahoo! Answers won't work at all unless people use it.  It'd be nice if people knowledgeable started following various categories.

On another note, I feel that Yahoo is falling into the MSN problem.   A user going to the MSN homepage could never find the various features and services contained within it cause it's such a pig's lunch.

Update: Here's a write-up of other q&a services on the web.  I look forward to checking them out.

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Source: Yahoo! Answers (YHOO, GOOG)