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Q: Google Answer Motivation ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Subject: Google Answer Motivation
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: carl_in_florida-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 30 Sep 2003 17:50 PDT
Expires: 30 Oct 2003 16:50 PST
Question ID: 261719
Please do not take this question the wrong way.
I have found Google Answers a facinating site.  The questions are
intruiging and the depth of knowledge written in an answer is amazing.
 This leads me to my question:
Why would any intelligent person spend the amount of time it takes to
research a question, formulate a logical, fluid answer, write the
information in a concise manner, and give the method of research for
two dollars?
I see questions like:
I wonder to myself why anyone in their right mind would spend the time
it takes to answer them.
While I am at it.  I sometimes see advanced programming assignments
that pay 100 or 200 dollars.  Like
I see requests that I would charge $2000 for.
What is the motivation?
Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
Answered By: serenata-ga on 01 Oct 2003 15:49 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Carl_In_Florida ~

I didn't take your question the wrong way at all. You'd be surprised
at the number of people who wonder what motivates Google Answers
Researchers to research, compile data and answer the questions we do.

Google says "More than 500 carefully screened Researchers are ready to
answer your question for as little as $2.50 -- usually within 24
hours. Your satisfaction is completely guaranteed."

(and you may have to log out to see that - seems it's not there after
you log in)

It is my privilege to personally know some of the other Researchers.
While I wouldn't presume to answer for them, I can say without
reservation that many of them are professionals - well-known and
respected in their particular fields. Many are constrained for
whatever reasons to work from home, and Google Answers affords them
that opportunity. And there is always that camaraderie of working with
a group of highly talented people!

While we are independent contractors, there are some who treat this as
a full-time job, and others "catch a few questions" to make ends meet.

Whatever their motivation, I think you have noticed that the questions
answered by the Researchers are usually well-researched and presented
in a professional manner, no matter the price tag connected to the
question. That's their professionalism showing, and why I am proud to
be a part of them.

Now I'll climb down off my soapbox and try to give your question an
honest answer - from this Researcher's point of view - even if it is
more pragmatic than entertaining.

My background and present business requires the same skillsets
necessary for Google Answers. I have been good at ferreting
information for many years. The advent of the Internet presented a LOT
more resources and convenience in digging for what I needed.

I knew a few of the Google Answers Researchers who suggested I apply.
I figured if I could earn a bit of money doing what I have always
done, why not? I applied and was accepted. Then it took me a while to
get the nerve to actually answer one a question. The caliber of the
other Researchers' answers was soooooo good, it was intimidating!

So what's the payoff? 

If you look at Google Answers purely from the standpoint of hours
invested vs dollars earned, I can probably make more at Mickey D's.
But I doubt I'd find the stimulation asking if someone wants to
supersize their order that I get tracking down the information for one
of Google Answers' customers. Every time I answer a question, I learn
something myself, and that is always a bonus.

Questions I choose to answer are those I feel I can answer with a
degree of accuity or which intrigue me enough to start on a quest for
the answer. In either case, it demands I rise to the occasion, stay
sharp, and offer something of value. And there's always that good
feeling when you know you've done your best.

I am a Web Designer, marketing consultant and illustrator, which
affords me a decent 'living', but tends to be more narrow in focus.
Very simply, Google Answers gives me a chance to widen those horizons
- something I'd do anyway - and to earn while doing so. Now, how cool
is that?

Don't be surprised if others comment on their own motivation, but only
one of us could officially answer, and I was lucky enough to click on
it and do so.

Thanks for asking!

Serenata_from_Arizona :)
carl_in_florida-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks all of you that answered or commented.  Good luck in your venture.

Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: respree-ga on 01 Oct 2003 17:25 PDT
While I am not a researcher, I imagine one aspect of it would be that
some just want to share their knowledge with another, with the view
that the money (while nice) is secondary.  Everybody is an expert or
semi-expert at something.

I myself have answered questions (with no expectation of compensation)
that researchers, for whatever reason, have chosen to pass on simply
to share my knowledge.  There's a feeling of gratification when you
have helped someone.

I also once posted a $5 programming question.  I honestly thought the
answer would be 'one' line of code, reflecting the price I was
offering.  It turned out the solution to my problem was much more
complex than I had anticipated and the researcher wrote a fairly
exhaustive solution for me.  I was thinking the same thing you are. 
Why would this researcher go through all this work and write this code
for me for only $5.  I never even offered a tip, although, in the end
I gave them a fairly generous one after I saw the work that was

Intrigued by this, I managed to track the researcher down through the
Net. We had a telephone conversion and I winded up hiring the
researcher for other consulting projects I had.  I closed the phone
call with "why do you answer $5 GA questions that are clearly worth
more than $5."  The researcher responded with "I know many programming
languages and it helps to keep me to stay sharp."

On another occasion, I posted a question (just for kicks), "Which
researchers have posted the most answers or comments to GA."  One of
them had more than 2000 comments posted, which means that they
provided information with "no" expectation of compensation. The
researcher's comment was "I just like to talk a lot for free. In fact,
I'm doing it right now."

What was 'my' motivation for making this comment?  To share. To avoid
doing my regular work and take a little break.  A fun diversion.

Hope that helps.
Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: mvguy-ga on 01 Oct 2003 21:09 PDT
I agree pretty much with Serenata's comments. I do not usually answer
questions that are seriously underpriced for the amount of time it
takes unless the question is really something I'm interested in. But
there have been a number of questions I have anwered merely for the
enjoyment of answering them.

One thing that the others haven't mentioned yet is that there are a
few Researchers who live in Third World countries where the cost of
living is quite low. While a $2 question might earn me enough to tip
the waitress, for some of the Third World Researchers it will pay for
a meal. And for someone in one of those areas, answering a $200
question might buy the groceries for a month.
Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: denco-ga on 01 Oct 2003 22:20 PDT
Howdy carl_in_florida!

Since one of your referenced Questions/Answers is one that I
Answered, I thought I would post a Comment.

"I am trying to locate where I read "Hurricane Isabel has the 
equivalent force of Nuclear weapons"

The Answer for that one took me about 10 minutes total to do,
so it was a not too bad $12.00 an hour wage for doing something
I have done for less, or even free, in the past.

I work on questions that either interest me, or are within
my specific fields of experience (which is pretty varied) or
are just plain obtuse or obscure.  In other words, I love a

I reckon most of the Google Answers Reseachers (GARs) have done
just that (research) in some capacity, before they were GARs.

Once you get up to speed, then the research documentation, etc.
is all part of the process, and doesn't take any real time.  As
for writing concise, fluid, etc. Answers, well, that is one of
what I would think is a prerequisite skills for the job.

Hey!  Hold on here!  I just did 10 minutes of work for nothing!

Research Strategy:  Personal experience as a GAR.

Looking Forward, denco-ga
Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: chromedome-ga on 01 Oct 2003 23:20 PDT
Hi, Carl!

As a longtime (if less than prolific) researcher, I can offer a few
additional points.

1) Sometimes a question hits us on a hot button. I've given a lengthy
answer to a $2 question on coffee, because I am an unabashed "coffee
snob" and the question pertained to quality.  On another occasion I
gave a very lavish answer to an $8 question concerning the disastrous
Halifax Explosion of 1917: I am a native of Halifax, and members of my
family perished in that tragedy (my grandmother, who was three at the
time, still bears the scars).  I will talk about food anytime
anywhere; Digsalot and Tehuti are the same with Egyptology; and so on
with many of us.

2) Some customers have become old friends.  Probonopublico, for
example, regularly posts low-priced questions in a spirit of fun. 
Johnfrommelbourne, another longtime "regular," has asked a number of
interesting questions, and generally been a pleasure to have around.
There are many, many others.

3)  With the advent of tipping, we simply don't know that a question
*will not* pay us.  There have been some remarkably disproportionate
tips on relatively low-priced questions.  On the other hand, of
course, some customers hold out the promise of a large tip without

4)  Serenata mentioned that some researchers are constrained to work
from home.  This perhaps was a non-committal way to phrase the point. 
For some of our researchers, a day without an answered question is a
day without income.  In those circumstances, answering four or five
cheapie questions in the run of a day is better than the alternative.

5) Low-priced questions, in many cases, are a way for new users to try
out the service.  By answering them well, we provide an encouragement
to return.

6)  The effect of the five-star ratings system sometimes causes us to
devalue ourselves.  Although Google Answers provides a guide to
pricing, it does not necessarily leap to the eye of a new customer. 
If we offer an answer which is perfectly acceptable for the price, the
customer may still choose to find it inadequate and rate us poorly -
that whole "champagne on a beer budget" thing.  Psychologically, it is
difficult for many of us to willingly court a bad rating by giving an
answer which meets (but does not exceed) the pricing guidelines.

This is unfortunate, as there is little objective merit to the ratings
system.  We have all seen stellar answers given poor ratings (or even
met with a refund request) because, though accurately researched and
well written, the researcher did not give the answer the customer
wanted.  On the other side of the coin, some answers which were at
best inadequate or at worst wildly off-base have been greeted with
rapture and high marks.

7)  It's very interesting work.  A friend once described me as a
"perambulating curiosity": a person who could become obsessively
interested in almost anything at a given moment.  In my time here at
GA I've researched a songwriting missionary; a Mexican movie
actor/operatic tenor who gave it all up for the priesthood;
microscopic turbines; aircraft engines; obscure painters; independent
radio stations...I could go on, but I'm sure you've gotten the idea.

This is just a smattering of the recurrent themes I've heard over the
last sixteen months (wow, where does the time go?) from my colleagues.
 I could type as many more without breaking a sweat, but I'm sure
you'll hear from many more researchers before we're done.


Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: journalist-ga on 02 Oct 2003 11:16 PDT
Greetings Carl:

I echo Serenata's sentiments.  Like some Researchers, I depend on
Google Answers for the majority of my income but I'll answer any
question --no matter the price-- if it piques my curiousity, if I have
personal experience with the topic or if the topic speaks to my
spirit.  I'm freelance, too, as a journalist, copywriter, researcher
and PR specialist.  Freelance demands a frugal lifestyle yet it's
where I'm the happiest, and Google Answers enables me to blend my
talents with the needs of others in a wonderful way.  Also, the quest
for information is darned addicting.  ;)

My favorite childhood heroine was Nancy Drew and, because I adore
solving a mystery, I enjoy assisting people with their personal
mysteries.  After all, the quest for an answer is something that all
humans have in common from "What's love" ( to "What color
is Penguin Poop?" (
)  :)

Best regards and thanks for asking this interesting question!
Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: pinkfreud-ga on 02 Oct 2003 12:25 PDT
My username appears 3185 times on GA; only 620 of these are paid
answers. Obviously, I'm getting something out of this beyond the
financial compensation.

Like many Google Answers Researchers, I have a head full of trivia. To
be able to put some of this previously worthless information to use is
a great blessing. I count my earnings not only in dollars, but in
stars, and in thank-yous, and in smiley emoticons from happy
customers. I have not amassed a huge bank account here, but when I
view my association with GA from the standpoint of emotional and
intellectual satisfaction, I am rich indeed.
Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: denco-ga on 02 Oct 2003 16:45 PDT
Hey journalist!

Shouldn't that have been:

Freelance demands a Froogle lifestyle ... ?

Subject: Re: Google Answer Motivation
From: journalist-ga on 03 Oct 2003 07:14 PDT
LOL Denco!  Well, when Froogle begins listing the Goodwill and
Salvation Army sale items, I'll be there with bells on.  ;)

Carl, if you are not yet familiar with Froogle, check it out at - it's a great way to quick-check
Internet shop prices.  :)

Best regards,

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