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Q: Google Answers ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Google Answers
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: boomering-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 15 Jan 2003 12:23 PST
Expires: 14 Feb 2003 12:23 PST
Question ID: 143137
The other day I posted a $200 question, and it made me wonder: how many $200
questions have been posted to date? A number will suffice; a graph
with dollar amounts on the x axis and number of questions posted on
the y axis would be superb
Subject: Re: Google Answers
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 15 Jan 2003 16:59 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks, Boomering, for an interesting question.  It was a lot of work
for 2 bucks, but it was a lot of fun.  I hope you find the answer
satisfying.  Thanks too, to Ericynot for taking the first step.

There's no easy way to post a graph here (and if I tried even an
ASCII-type graph, it would no doubt lose the formatting) but here are
the raw numbers I came up with:

Questions at:            Answered        Unanswered      Total

$200                      131              76             207

$150-199                   43              28              71

$101-149                   20               7              27

$100                      307             200             507

$51-99                     34             105             139
                          _____           _____           _____

Subtotal                  535             416             951

A couple of observations.  

--You'll notice the grand total of questions valued at more than $50
is 951 -- almost 1,000.  That's because the Google Answers sorting
system seems to top out at 1,000.  When I sort the list from the most
to least expensive, I can't get it to show me the questions much
beyond those at a $50 value (and if I sort from least to most
expensive, the first several thousand are all $2 questions).

--In other words, I can't figure a way to extract info beyond what
I've shown here for e.g. questions at $25 -- perhaps another
researcher cares to give it a shot.

--There's a strange thing that happens with the $51-99 questions -- a
lot more of these are unanswered than answered, while it's just the
reverse for the other price categories.  I wonder why?

--Ericynot ("Y not"...I just got it!) is right about something being
hinky with the total number of questions in the system.  It looks to
be around 20,000, but different "cuts" of the list give you somewhat
different results.

That's about all I can offer for now.  Hope this does the trick.  I
try to give the best answers possible, but if you'd like any more
information, please post a "Request for Clarification" before rating
this answer.

Request for Answer Clarification by boomering-ga on 15 Jan 2003 20:43 PST
Thanks for the great work. One thing would put this into perspective
for me: how long has Google Answers been in existence?

And re the $200 question, it was locked for about 10 hours today with
the message that a researcher was answering it. Now it is not locked
and still open. Does that mean the researcher gave up and abandoned
the question? This is worth a bonus. It's critical because i need an
answer by tomorrow.

Best regards,


Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 16 Jan 2003 06:40 PST
The very first question in the Google Answer "archives" is "Why is the
sky blue?" and it's dated April 9, 2002.

You can see an early press article about Google Answers here:

As for your as-yet unanswered question, I see that Czh-ga has offered
a pretty detailed clarification (not here, but at the other question)
and I don't have much to add to his comment.  I'd love to be able to
tackle that question, but it asks for such specific types of
information -- some of which simply may not be available -- that many
researchers are reluctant to attempt an answer and risk disappointing
an important client like yourself.  But best of luck with the job
search and everything else in this New Year of ours.
boomering-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00

Subject: Re: Google Answers
From: ericynot-ga on 15 Jan 2003 14:29 PST
I was going to post the following as the answer until I realized I
could not resolve certain ambiguities concerning the Google Answers
system, so, rather than get into a protracted debate, I'll throw out
what I had written for discussion, followed by additional thoughts:

Hi boomering,

Interesting question. Your $200.00 posted offer (unfortunately) is in
a very elite group :) Out of the 21,726 questions in the Google
Answers archives, only 207 (or .925%) were top-dollar.

I arrived at this answer by going to the Google Answers main page:

I then played around until I found a search term that could be
guaranteed to exist within every GA question. What was it? "GA", of
course :)

Next, I ordered the results in price order and looked through them (at
10 per page) until reaching the end of the $200 questions. Pretty
simple really except that the Google software is in a bad mood today
and I kept getting the message "Unable to process request. Please try
again later."

Interesting factoid: there has only been one $199.00 question posted.

I must qualify the numbers above by saying that Google editors, from
time to time, remove questions for various Terms of Service reasons,
so there may have been other $200.00 questions posted that are no
longer in the system. I would expect those to be few, if any.

Thanks for an interesting question,


I decided not to publish the answer above when I noticed that the
current highest question number is (at this moment in time) 143,177
(rather than 21,726). I then looked through the Answers database in
reverse chronological order and noticed that many question numbers are
missing. Rather than speculate about matters only Google Answers
editors can address with certainty, I am ceasing this effort and
posting it for others to take up.

By the way, if no convincing argument is made nullifying my answer
above, I'll be happy to post it as the "official" one.

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