Google Answers Beta Logo
Google Answers Home
Google Answers: Researcher Training Manual

I. Administrative Details
II. Researcher Tutorial & Help
III. Style Guide
IV. Do's & Don'ts
V. Sample Questions & Answers

^ back to top

Q: How do I get started?

A: To start answering questions:
  •   Log into your Google Answers account and click on the "My Account" link at the top of the screen.
  •   From the "My Account" page, click on the "Researcher Center" tab, select "Questions Needing An Answer" from the pull-down menu, and click "Go".
  •   Choose a question that you may want to answer from the list by clicking on it in "Subject of Question" column. This provides you with the full text of the question.
  •   If you want to answer this question, click on the "Answer Question" button to open the answer field and to lock the question. Once the question is locked, you will have four hours to post an answer for questions less than $100 and eight hours for questions $100 or more. During this time, only you will be able to post an answer for the question you have locked. Now begin answering the question. We recommend creating your answer in a separate document (e.g. in Microsoft Word or Notepad) in case your Internet connection goes down.
  •   When you are done with your answer, click the "Post Answer" button to submit your answer.

    Q: How do I clarify a question?
    A: To clarify a question, first log in. Select the question you wish to clarify. Click on the "Request Question Clarification" button at the top of the question header, and enter your text in the box provided.
    Q: How do I sort questions?
    A: To sort questions by price or expiration date, click on the "Price" or "Expires in" column headers in the question table.

    Q: How do I lock a question?
    A: To lock a question, select an unanswered question, and click on the "Answer Question" button. Questions priced under $100 are locked for 4 hours. Questions priced $100 or above can be locked for up to 8 hours. To remove the lock, click the "Cancel" button. If you decide not to answer the question, you should cancel the lock before trying to lock another question. Remember, your lock on a question will automatically expire after four hours, if it is priced less than $100. If the question is $100 or more your lock will last for eight hours.

    Q: What happens when I lock a question?
    A: By locking a question, you exclude other Researchers from answering it and other users from commenting on it while you work on it. However, the asker of the question can post clarifications to the question, so please occasionally refresh your browser window when working on an answer to see if the asker has posted additional material for you. When you lock a question, you agree to abide by the current Researcher Guidelines. It is your responsibility to stay up to date on the most current Researcher Guidelines and other Researcher materials, which are always available in the Researcher Center.

    Q: Can I lock more than one question at a time?
    A: The Google Answers system currently allows you to lock two questions at any given time. However, we strongly encourage Researchers to lock and work on only one question at a time out of fairness to other Researchers who also wish to work on questions. There may be special circumstances that justify locking more than one question at a time. For example, if a Researcher is waiting on a return phone call about one question and wishes to work on another one in the meantime, this would be an acceptable reason for locking two questions. However, we do consider regular locking of more than one question at a time without a legitimate reason to be unfair and a potential abuse of the system, and it may result in a loss of Researcher privileges.

    Q: How do I find questions that need answers?
    A: Log in, click on the "My Account" link at the top of the page, then click on the "Researcher Center" tab. Select "Questions Needing An Answer" from the pull-down menu, and click "Go".

    Q: Can I sort by questions that I have requested a clarification for?
    A: Currently, this feature does not exist. You can retrieve the questions you have answered or the questions that still need an answer.

    Q: How do I know when my request for clarification has been answered?
    A: Researchers will receive email notification when their request for clarification has been answered. You will only receive these notifications if you have set your preferences to receive email.

    Q: Can I revise my answer after I post it?

    A: You cannot edit an answer after you post it, but you can add a clarification to it. To add a clarification, go to the "Researcher Center", select "All Answers I Have Worked On" from the pull-down menu, and click "Go". Click on the question you want to clarify and then click the "Clarify Answer" button. Enter your text, and then click on "Post Clarification".

    Q: How will I know when someone rates my answer?

    A: In the Researcher Center, select "All Answers I Have Worked On" from the pull-down Menu and then click "Go". You will see your ratings in the "Status" column of the question table. Currently, there is no way to view only those answers that have been rated.

    Q: How will I know when someone comments on my answer?

    A: Currently, you have to check your questions regularly to see if there are any new comments.

    Q: How will I know when someone asks me to clarify my answer?

    A: In the Researcher Center, select "All Answers I Have Worked On" from the pull-down menu, and click "Go". You will see a "Needs Attention" link in the Status column of the question table for all questions for which a clarification request has been posted.

    For additional information on Frequently Asked Questions, please read the Researcher Guidelines and FAQ. Also, please check this document regularly as we will be revising it to include answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. Thanks for your patience and help in improving Google Answers. If you have feedback or suggestions for the Researcher Training Manual, please write to:

    ^ back to top

    Researchers should follow the format below when answering questions. This format is intended to provide a standardized response guideline to ensure that the customer receives information in 3 areas: researched answer, helpful links and search strategy. Currently this format also includes recommended greetings and closings; these are intended to formalize and standardize answers. We strongly recommend these format guidelines as they promote a professional and friendly environment and have proved to result in the most highly rated answers.

    Answer Components:
    Suggested Greeting. Greetings may vary from: "Hi John!" to "Dear John," to no greeting at all, if you prefer.

    Answer. Begin with a brief summary of your answer or an introduction to the topic including any explanatory remarks. Follow with the detailed text of your answer including quotes and referenced text from other sources. End with additional links to supporting materials (graphs, tables, photos, maps, articles etc.)

    Additional Links. Links to additional information or related topics, as appropriate. Each link should be prefaced by a brief description and title.
    Search Strategy. List of useful and effective search terms or methods used. We also suggest that you provide the URL generated for the actual Google search page (cut and paste the URL you get).

    Suggested Closing Remarks. Write a brief and friendly closing remark (e.g. "Good luck in your searching!" or "Hope this helps!" - the goal is to be friendly and personable.) We recommend that you do NOT sign your name. You may then "sign" your answer with your Answers nickname, or nothing at all.

    Answer Format:
    Note: carets "< , >" are where text should be inserted.

         ( skip one line )
         ( skip two lines )

    Additional Links:
         ( skip one line )
    <Title/Description of Link>     (always place links on separate lines)

    <Title/Description of Link>     
         ( skip two lines )

    Search Strategy:
         ( skip one line )
    <search term used>
    <search term used>     (place each search term on a separate line)

    Formatting Tips:
    - When creating a list use either dashes "-" or numbers "1." Do not use bullets.
    - Do not use auto-formatting (bullets, numbering, indenting) in Microsoft Word. These automated actions do not always transfer into other browser environments.
    - Do not use html code in your answers.
    - When inserting a link, and using brackets or parentheses around the inserted link, please make sure to leave a space between the bracket/parenthesis and the link. For example, ( ).

    Citation Guidelines:

    These guidelines are intended to provide information on research documentation and recommended answer style. According to the Google Answers Researcher Guidelines at all material quoted or referenced must be cited. Below are Google's generic guidelines on citing various web and print documents.

    Detailed information on standard citation guidelines can be found in Online! A reference guide to using Internet sources. By Andrew Harnack and Eugene Kleppinger. Published by Bedford / St. Martin's (©2001). The Online Citation Styles Index is at:

    For detailed information on punctuation, we recommend: Note: Always include the "http://" at the beginning of an inserted web-link.

    Name of Website / Source
    The San Francisco Zoo

    Article on website
    "Name of Article" by Author (Date).
    Name of Website / Source
    "Drink Much?" by Tim Eaton (Feb. 21, 2000).

    Newsgroup Posting
    Authors Name (or screen name or e-mail), "Title of posting."
    Identification as online posting, (Posting date).
    Name of Newsgroup / Source. Use angle brackets "<>" for newsgroup address.
    *Indicate if registration is required to access the newsgroup link.
    Z and D, "Best gelato in NYC?" Online posting (May 22, 2000). <> via Google Groups.

    List Server Message
    Author's Name (or screen name or e-mail), "Subject of posting."
    Identification as online posting, (Posting date).
    Name of Listserv / Source. Use angle brackets "<>" for listserv address.
    *Indicate if registration is required to access the newsgroup link.
    Pjohnson, "The night when Buffy and Angel met" (Comment). Online Posting (April 2, 2002). Buffy the Vampire Slayer ListServ hosted by Planetx.

    Documents accessed by Telnet, FTP, and gopher sites
    Name of Author, Agency or File. (Date of publication). Title of Document.
    - Telnet address with directions for accessing document.
    - Complete FTP address
    - Gopher address with directions for accessing document
        Telnet Example:
    Environmental Protection Agency (1990). About the Clean Air Act (CAA) database.
    Retrieved from FedWorld Information Network:
    telnet go Regulatory Agencies

    FTP Example:

    everest2.gif (April 4,1993). Image of Mt. Everest. views/

    Gopher Example:
    History and anthropology: Convergence and divergence by J. Goody (Spring 1993).
    Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology, 75 (2). Academia Sinica, 75. Retrieved from:
    gopher:// ioe/engbull/75b.txt

    Name of Book by Author. Publisher (Date of Publication).
    Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays, by David Sedaris. Little, Brown & Company (May 1995).

    Magazine Articles/Newspaper:
    "Title of Article," by Author. Magazine Name, (Date of Publication).
    "Spring Fashion Trends 2002," by Hal Rubenstein and Cindy Weber Cleary. InStyle (April 2002).

    Common Questions Regarding Citation:

    How should I format quotations directly from a website?
    When quoting directly from a website, first preface the quote with a brief description and then close with a colon. At the end of the quote, follow the appropriate citation guidelines.

    The following excerpt describes the benefits of painting tree trunks white:
    "Paint [tree] trunks white to minimize winter sunscald damage. The white surface reflects winter sunrays, which can warm the bark and make it more susceptible to freezing temperatures…Smooth-barked trees are usually more sensitive to sunscald. Use latex, not oil-based, paint, and cover up the lower limbs."
    "Take Steps Now for Productive Fruit Trees Next Year" by Tony Bratsch. University of Illinois, Urban Programs Resource Network, Press Release Dec. 7, 2000.

    Note: There are two common punctuation formats used for inserting quotes. Ellipses (…) are used to denote missing or skipped text. Brackets […] are used to denote words inserted by the Researcher to clarify the text of a quote. Samples included in text above.

    Inserting a link in the text:
    Sometimes inserting a referential link into the text of your answer is helpful. In these cases, if you wish to add website information, you can insert it in parentheses. Please leave a space around the link within the parentheses.


    If you are interested in visiting the San Francisco Zoo (, you can either take the bus or the train.

    Listing single or multiple links:
    For a single link in your researched answer, preface the link with a brief description, then follow it with the complete link. When listing links (as in the additional links section), precede the group of links by a brief description of what follows. Then precede each link by a title or brief description, then on the following line, list the link.

    Single Link Example:
    For more information read:
    Review of hip-hop, 3rd paragraph about Xzibit

    Multiple Link Example:

    For more information on the author, Arnold Lobel, visit:

    Meet the author by Houghton Mifflin

    Educational Paperback Associate Biography of Arnold Lobel

    Writing Style
    Google recommends that answers be written with three core principles in mind:
  • Accurate and comprehensive
  • Clear and concise
  • Professional and friendly

  • Accurate and comprehensive
    You should try to deliver the most comprehensive and accurate answer that you can. Make sure that you not only address every point of the user's question, but that you try to address every angle of it as well.

    Things to think about:
    Clear and concise
    You should lead users directly to their information. Remember, they are paying you to filter information for them on your answer. Our goal is to remove all of the content they do not want to see, and only provide the content they want to see.

    A few tips: Professional and friendly
    Please make sure that you are polite and friendly in your answers and comments. Never argue or defame another person using the site. Don't hesitate to be yourself, and you should feel free to take a personal interest in what people are asking you.

    Q: The Google Answers team says be professional. What does that mean?
    A: As a Google Answers Researcher you are required to conduct yourself in public view on the Google Answers website in a respectful and courteous manner. Google Answers would like to see all Researchers act in accordance with their Guidelines. Professional behavior includes: Unprofessional behavior includes: Q: Why is professional behavior so important?
    A: Professionalism is important as part of providing quality assistance for the user who is paying for this service. It reflects well on the individual researcher and Google Answers for Researchers to conduct themselves professionally and courteously on the site at all times. Researchers who do not conduct themselves in a professional manner risk being dropped.

    Q: What is good customer service?
    A: Being a Researcher is not solely about answering questions. It is about communicating with customers in order to try and meet their needs to the best of our abilities. Good customer service involves listening to the customer and responding to their needs. If a customer is unhappy with the provided information, and says that the answer was not what they expected, politely ask for a clarification. This is sometimes the best way to find out precisely what the question requires and how best to provide the right answer. If the customer responds to such a request, use this opportunity to satisfy the request, or explain why their needs cannot be met. Customer service requires politeness under pressure. If you cannot say something nicely or professionally, refer the user to Google Answers staff at,

    ^ back to top
    IV. DO'S & DON'TS

    ^ back to top

    We recommend reviewing the following as ideal examples of great answers:

    Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy
    ©2006 Google