Friday, May 1, 2009

Thing 34 - Answer Sites

I looked at a few on-line answer sites, including "Askmetafiler, Chacha, Allexperts, Askville and Answerbag to see what the appeal was. The main appeal seems to be to make some sort of connection with other people. Some questions such as "How is the economy affecting you?" illustrate that the answers are not always something that can be found in a library. I found many different types of questions including: "Was Bush behind 911?" "Where is a good meeting place for people who want to play board games?" "How much does a Burger King chef make a year?" "Why doesn't the microphone on my laptop work?" Though some of these can be answered by a librarian--a library meeting room was suggested as a place to play board games--not all of them have to be. I think people use these sites because of their convenience. People nowdays are very busy and they are usually connected to a computer. They probably can get their answer faster. Some sites ask you to register with them. Perhaps if someone is signed up for an answer site, that is where they go first. Naturally looking up a library number and then having to wait for an answer takes more time and energy and doesn't get the fast return iof these other sites. Although "Slam the Boards" might be a fun challenge for a reference librarian, I think a more effective way to compete would be to have a library sponsored answer site. This site could be syndicated so other libraries could put a link on their web site. I'm sure many libraries banded together could afford to have a 24/7 reference staff. Some of the questions I saw were best answered by a librarian so giving people an official library answer site would probably garner the best answer. I did not answer any questions, but then I don't consider myself a reference librarian. I also do not normally go to chat rooms or interact with people I don't know on the Internet.

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