Standing in the street trying to hear yourself think

Tim Hawkins tim.hawkins at
Fri Jul 3 01:01:10 UTC 2009

I would agree that The yahoo Answers model represents a "wisdom of the  
crowds" approach, and you are correct
in your assessment that this can lead to distortions. However I was  
only suggesting this as an example model, and that
there could be mechanisms built into the points system that would  
answer these criticism.

On yahoo answers many of the responses that are chosen as top answers,  
are subjective in nature, a well written individual
who writes a convincing or "populist" response to a question, but  
supplies completely wrong information, could easily be promoted
over a response that was less polished, but however factually correct.

I would propose that we have a better metric for selecting the best  
answer, in that the person posing the question could select the
answer that fixed the problem for them,  again this ties in with the  
task orientated nature of this approach. A question like "how do i get
the audio level to persist on my aspire one" would generally solicit a  
number of answers, but only if the answer fixes the problem for the
questioner should it be chosen as the best answer.

It would be a case of selecting a mechanism that rewards the  
behaviours you are trying to solicit, and not just using a straight  
popularity vote.

I must admit to some involvement in the yahoo answers project, having  
been an engineering manager on search for yahoo for some years and being
somewhat involved in the product.

On 3 Jul 2009, at 08:41, Onno Benschop wrote:

> On 03/07/09 08:00, Tim Hawkins wrote:
>> Would the production of a system similar to the "Yahoo Answers"
>> approach help with some of this, Yahoo Answers
>> awards points to answers that are chosen as top answers for various
>> questions, and in essence becomes a "living FAQ". Its more
>> task orientated than the wiki, as its based on a question/answer
>> form.  Its less intimidating than the forums as its not a discussion
>> space.
>> The points system encourages people to contribute to increase their
>> "karma" or their peer status, particular participants's points
>> levels could for example be used to award "emblems" for particular
>> levels of engagement, such as "expert", "guru" etc. Potentially
>> points could be used to award resources on the upcoming Ubuntu One
>> system, or other ubuntu related resources.
>> It would be in Canonical's interest to encourage participation to  
>> make
>> product adoption more widespread.
>> Any thoughts?.
> I have seen Yahoo! Answer posts where two answers were supplied by two
> different people. The wrong answer was voted as the "best" answer.  
> Just
> because the masses think the answer is right, doesn't make it so.
> "karma" can be a useful indication of activity, but in my experience
> it's no indication of expertise.
> And typically, using launchpad as an example, experts don't seem to  
> get
> a lot of karma, since most of their activity is in the preparation  
> of a
> single launchpad action, a patch, or an answer, or whatever.
> -- 
> Onno Benschop
> Connected via Bigpond NextG at S31°54'06" - E115°50'39" (Yokine, WA)
> --
> ()/)/)()        ..ASCII for Onno..
> |>>?            ..EBCDIC for Onno..
> --- -. -. ---   ..Morse for Onno..
> ITmaze   -   ABN: 56 178 057 063   -  ph: 04 1219 8888   -   onno at
> -- 
> Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list
> Ubuntu-devel-discuss at
> Modify settings or unsubscribe at:

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list