a librarian’s worst nightmare?

I don’t know about you, but my worst nightmare is more along the lines of someone vomiting (or worse!) in the overnight book drop, but Slate has an article about Yahoo Answers and how librarians hate it. Of course the writer doesn’t seem to have talked to any librarians, he just likes to rail against the wisdom of crowds — with some valid points, certainly — and make fun of stupid answers on YA which is of coruse the opposite of what any decent librarian would do. There is a lively back and forth in the disucssion section which is hard to follow and hard to find but if the topic is as near and dear to your heart as it is to mine, I suggest you dig it out. I commented. [thanks alexandra]

4 thoughts on “a librarian’s worst nightmare?

  1. I would have responded to you over there, but my life is too short to grapple with their system (especially seeing as I’d have to register as well).

    To reply here: AskMe is populated by smart people like you (and occasionally me). Whereas Yahoo Answers isn’t ;-).

    That was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but seriously: YA is pretty bad for factual questions – my favourite example was the ‘what’s the capital of Nigeria?’ question, where people kept answering (and voting up) “Lagos”, even after other people had said “it used to be Lagos, it isn’t anymore, here’s a link to [CIA Factbook/WP/etc] to confirm it”.

    You do make some good points about the social type questions, the ones that don’t have a simple factual answer. Even then, YA seems to have short and not often useful answers, though. I’m hugely passionate about the power of online communities to help meet people’s information needs; I just don’t think that YA is very successful at doing so (whereas AskMe, and some sites I’m involved in, are).

  2. This has nothing to do with Yahoo Answers and more about your worst nightmare. I worked at the library of a big football university and we would have to lock up our outside book drops on game weekends because people would use them as toilets. It was very sad and very stinky.

  3. Thanks for the post. I signed up for Yahoo Answers and am now answering questions, mostly in Words & Wordplay, Quotations, and Books (whatever the heading is.) A few observations after my few days at the site:

    Many of those questions could be answered doing a websearch. I’m not sure why those posting don’t do that. Of course, the spelling on many questions is atrocious, so that may have kept them from finding what they wanted.

    Many of the questions could be handled by a phone call to a library.

    I guess it’s a sign of progress that students are asking for someone to do their homework, rather than having a parent go to the library to do it for them ….

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