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Q: What has happened to Answers? ( No Answer,   44 Comments )
Subject: What has happened to Answers?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: tar_heel_v-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 23 Oct 2006 14:29 PDT
Expires: 28 Nov 2006 13:17 PST
Question ID: 776160
Fellow Researchers...

It has been awhile and I thought I would log back on and take a stab
at some answers and, lo' and behold, the pickings were, shall we say,
slim.  I did some digging back and realized that I had answered my
first question as a Researcher back in October of 2002.  I actually
made a nice little check when I was not working and was answering
regularly.  Now, it seems as if it would be all but impossible to do
the same.

My question is simple:  What happened and can it come back and be what
I think all we GAR's thought it could be?  Comments from long time
researchers (are there any other type?) and long time, loyal customers
are more than welcome.


Clarification of Question by tar_heel_v-ga on 03 Nov 2006 13:29 PST
Some great feedback.  Thanks for the opinions!
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: bowler-ga on 23 Oct 2006 14:50 PDT
Welcome back tar_heel_v!

The quality of GA has become diluted with spam questions that are
conceivably attempts from credit card thieves to verify the validity
of stolen credit card numbers, webmasters realizing that a mention of
their website in a GA question may boost their ranking in the search
results (although this may have been resolved), and the disappearance
of researchers such as yourself.

There also seems to be a high number of unanswerables.  This is most
likely due to the fact that customers often ask questions that require
much more work than even $200 is an ample fee for.

The more prolific researchers are doing quite well as the cream of the
crop has risen.  Pinkfreud, Bobbie7, Tutuzdad, etc. are answering
questions at a furious pace it seems.

I hope it does come back.  I'm tired of questions about the MI5 and
Shoaib's crazy questions about mortgages. ;)
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 23 Oct 2006 14:57 PDT
My GA income is less than half what it used to be, although I am
putting in the same number of hours on the site. :-(
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: steph53-ga on 23 Oct 2006 15:46 PDT
Hi tar_heel_v-ga....

I posted a comment to your latest "answer".

It seems that G00gle does not post this site anymore on their main
page so its hit or miss on finding this site nowadays.

As well, the GA honchos no longer notify people when a researcher
clarifies or answers a question. It still says that they do on the
FAQ, so many questioners assume that their question remains
unanswered. This affects the ratings/tips big time.

Anyway, I still come here daily, mainly to post comments with the many
others here who have formed a " GA bond"...

Nice to see you here again,

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: keystroke-ga on 23 Oct 2006 21:39 PDT
I just started answering questions a few months ago... and I noticed
that recently the number of questions asked has gone down extremely
from even when I started (I think in July)! Not sure why this would
be.  Sometimes I won't check for a whole day and when I come back
there's only one page of questions asked (many of which are spam) and
when I started it seemed like there would be pages at a time that I
could wade through.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: probonopublico-ga on 23 Oct 2006 21:39 PDT
Bowler ...

Tired of questions about MI5 indeedy?

You are a very naughty boy!

But great to see you again tar_heel_v.

As to why?

Have you ever heard of Gresham's Law?

I could tell you but it's going to cost you A LOT more than $5.

If you up your price to $25,000 we can talk business.

All the Best

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: tar_heel_v-ga on 23 Oct 2006 21:43 PDT
Gresham's Law indeed...good vs bad?  which is good and which is bad?

Good to see familiar faces around.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: probonopublico-ga on 23 Oct 2006 23:05 PDT
Pinkfreud, Answerfinder and Politicalguru are the Good Guys.

Myoarin, Steph53 and Yours Truly are the Bad Guys:

We could've been anything we wanted to be
But don't it make your heart glad
That we decided, a fact we take pride in
We became the best at being bad
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: pugwashjw65-ga on 23 Oct 2006 23:33 PDT
Whatever has happened to GA [ Religious] Questions?. All my answers
must have been right on. All the askers are satisfied. And my name is
not even in blue???
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: politicalguru-ga on 24 Oct 2006 00:21 PDT
Tar Hill, 

First of all, glad to see you back. However, I prefer to discuss these
things privately - at Missy's (get the address from the editors, if
you don't have it).
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: probonopublico-ga on 24 Oct 2006 00:58 PDT
Oh dear ...

I suspect that Polly wants to talk about ME ...

Behind my back!
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: politicalguru-ga on 24 Oct 2006 03:03 PDT

I just don't like men who stand me up, *and you know what Im talking about...*

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a foreigner at the
supermarket (only in Berlin...):

[my son looks at the doogie and points at it]
Man: yes, she is cute, isn't she? 
Me: Yes, very much. He [son] likes doggies. 
Man: Yes, she's beautiful. I love her. You MUST buy a dog to the child
when he's a bit older. I got mine when I was three.
Me: mmmm...
Man: But you know, she's just like woman. She lies on the sofa the
whole day, does nothing, costs a lot of money, and eats a lot. But
she's beautiful. As I said, just like a woman!
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: myoarin-ga on 24 Oct 2006 03:13 PDT
Certainly the discontinuation of the notification system has hampered
prompt response and led to disgruntled clients and Researchers.  If we
talk more about that, the question may be deleted; it seems to be a
touchy point.

It would be nice to think that G-A has itself reduced the demand for
search assistance by demonstrating how to search and how to use search
features that are not immediately obvious to the layman/woman).  But
it could be that people have just become more savvy to the system by

And then  - of course -  maybe we "bad boys" have been upsetting the
clients, although Bryan has been mucking about from the very
beginning.  :-)

Whatever, I agree, it seemed more interesting back in 2005.

Cheers, Myoarin
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: richardmtl-ga on 24 Oct 2006 07:04 PDT
I'll throw in my own two cents here,

I think a big problem is that there is no obvious link to GA anymore
from Google's homepage. Also, I haven't installed the official Google
Toolbar for FF because of the lack of a GA button (there's one in the
unofficial toolbar, though it's currently not being updated anymore).
And I agree that the broken notification system is a pain.

And I happen like Shoaib's questions! I'm waiting for him to get his loan one day!
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: boquinha-ga on 24 Oct 2006 08:12 PDT
I'm sad about it, too. :( I agree with the comments--the missing
"more" button on the homepage, broken notification system, etc. are
all contributing to the decrease in questions, in my opinion. I've
even written headquarters--certified letter to the founders
themselves--haven't heard a thing back. I'm not sure what else to do.

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: jack_of_few_trades-ga on 24 Oct 2006 08:44 PDT
It's interesting that when I type in    Answers     in G00gle, the
first 2 links are not
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: guillermo-ga on 24 Oct 2006 10:05 PDT
The last update of the official Google Toolbar does include a link to
GA. If it doesn't come by default (mine did) it is among the options
you can choose.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: guillermo-ga on 24 Oct 2006 10:09 PDT
Don't expect to see an owl, but a question mark.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: richardmtl-ga on 24 Oct 2006 10:31 PDT
Hi Guillermo,

Well, I have the most recent version of the Toolbar for Firefox, as I
mentioned, and I don't see the Answers button.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: barneca-ga on 24 Oct 2006 17:06 PDT
i don't recall the timeframe, but is it possible that the downturn in
questions is partly due to the startup of a different question and
answer service by another large internet company who, just to be safe,
i wouldn't even dream of naming?  i hasten to add, oh omniscient GA
editor, that i haven't even looked at that other service, i promise. 
and if, theoretically, i had taken a quick peek, just out of
curiousity, i think GA is 10 ... nay, 100 times better.

myoarin now has me worried that my
perhaps-more-aggressive-than-necessary use of the word "ying-lay"
(cleverly translated into pig latin so as not to upset any automated
text recognition programs!) a few days ago got a similar thread
deleted. if that is the case, i apologize; i would have thought that
only the offending comment would get nuked, so maybe i'm exaggerating
my importance.

speaking of exaggerating my importance, i hesitate to say this, but if
the decline has really just been in the past year, one other
explanation presents itself.  i posted my first comment here 1 year
ago last week.

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: badgerw-ga on 24 Oct 2006 21:47 PDT
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they're not accepting
new researchers?  I answered two questions (correctly, I might add --
one $5 and one $20) before I realized that I had to be a "researcher"
in order to submit an actual answer (as opposed to a comment) and get
paid for it. :(
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: probonopublico-ga on 25 Oct 2006 01:27 PDT
Of course, badgerw-ga ...

You've hit the nail on the head:

Everybody should be able to post answers and the Questioners then have
to decide which answer (if any) to accept.

And I used to think that beavers were only good for making into hats!
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: bowler-ga on 25 Oct 2006 07:34 PDT
Sorry Bryan.  Of course I like to hear about the MI5 (since I know
nothing about it presently).  I won't be naughty anymore.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: myoarin-ga on 25 Oct 2006 07:46 PDT
Bryan, you are right, actually, beavers are only good for making felt hats.
Badgers, however, are more noted for providing the makings for shaving brushes.

You just got your first free answer to an unasked question. 

Cheers, Myo
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: barneca-ga on 25 Oct 2006 09:26 PDT

saying "correctly, I might add" was a little premature.  look at the
$5 question again.  perhaps only allowing a GAR to *officially* answer
a question isn't a bad idea after all.

not 100% sure, but i think the other, un-named service i alluded to
above works on your model.


Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: probonopublico-ga on 25 Oct 2006 09:35 PDT
Everything anybody might ever want to know about Answers has been
fully revealed in:

Question ID: 776377 

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: myoarin-ga on 25 Oct 2006 14:12 PDT
Another problem that perhaps only the most active of us notice is that
there have been some glitches, starting with the hiatus of posting at
yearend. After posting a comment, the system no longer drops down to
show the comment at the bottom of the page.  Denco today mentioned
that a question he had locked remained open for comments.  Another one
(mine) he locked, just disappeared, at least as far as I could see. 
It didn't appear as freshly posted nor was sighted later, until I
found it with his request for clarification.
The order of questions when one clicks on a new page seems to be irregular.
Signs of overload  - or of disinterest in necessary system maintenance?
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: harrysnet-ga on 25 Oct 2006 19:10 PDT
Since  tar_heel asked his question in a public forum like this (paying 
$.50 al well) rather than a closed GAR forum, I guess he wants answers 
from users as well as researchers. Here is my two cents.

I have been looking at Google Answers for a little while, and while 
they are frequently have very interesting questions, the prices 
set they are definitely not enough to keep the momentum of the site going.

I notice there are a few people like myoarin, me and others who tend to 
provide partial or full answers as comments, since quite often researchers 
don't bother with the lower priced questions.

I think that the positioning of Google Answers is right now stuck in an 
internet no-mans land. It cannot be free since it involves expert effort, 
but it goes against the expectations of internet users who strongly expect 
free services.

You can't fault Google though. At $.50 per question with the current volume 
the site is just a minor annoyance. It is no wonder that they drop GA from 
their prime pages, which have a limited capacity before becoming overwhelming,
to list other stuff that seem more promising.

Also the spam that people mentioned is a huge credibility problem, I think. 
Would you spend $200 or $100 or even $5 if half of the questions you see are 
spam? My guess is that these are probably pranks of some sort, not stolen 
credit cards, since the same people seem to ask a lot of spam questions. 
This does not mean the site is hurt any less though.

The result: Few people know and use the site (for real), and the news does not 
spread either.

My suggestions to Google would be to make use of the site easier, try to 
encourage users to give higher prices to questions and isolate spam (even 
better have it isolate itself). This could conceivably improve the site's 
perception, and reverse the current trend.

Examples of things worth trying:

  1) To make use of the site easier, allow using Google checkout to it. This 
makes paying easier, and even favors impulse asking. It can't hurt Google 
checkout either to get an extra client.

  2) To improve the site's perception separate the questions in price groups, 
and show one group at a time (groups would be maybe $2-$4.99, $5-$19.99 etc.) 
A tabbed interface would be ideal for this. This would probably motivate putting 
questions in higher priced groups, to get better exposure and attract more GARs 
to answer.

This would also probably take care of spam, confining it to the lowest price 
group. Why? Assume someone offers $20 for the meaning of life. It would be 
very easy to copy/paste 10 paragraphs from the web (with references - no 
plagiarizing here) for answers the major religions and/or philosophy schools 
give as a complete answer, and pick the twenty. Result: a major incentive for 
spam questions to stay on the lowest price group only.

This may also allow a partial implementation of the suggestion badgerw made, to 
allow anyone to answer questions. My feelings agree with his suggestion, but I 
can see how you would want accountability in your researchers' answers. If you 
think the spam problem is bad now that you have to pay for questions, wait to 
see what happens when anyone can submit spam as an answer for free. But maybe 
Google could allow anyone to submit answers for the lowest group only, and 
even use this as a testing ground for 'promotion' to full GAR status based on 
the ratings they get.

Anyway, just some random thoughts on the topic.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: tutuzdad-ga on 26 Oct 2006 14:13 PDT
Here you go pugwashjw65-ga. This ought to be just the sort of thing
you are hoping for. It's an exclusively "christian" style "Answers"
forum that you just might enjoy participating in:
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: badgerw-ga on 27 Oct 2006 11:12 PDT
barneca-ga, because I'm sure Real Google Researchers (TM) never screw
up variable names or get a sign wrong.  If that's the case, no math
professor that I've ever had will make it here.

Anyway, back to the topic... I really wouldn't even mind the lost $20
(BTW, that's basically 20 bucks sitting there for any of you to swoop
by and pick it up.... 776103... you're welcome) if there were some way
for me to sign up now and start answering questions for money. 
However, there is apparently no way for that to happen, not even a
place to sign up for Google to notify me when it's accepting
applications again.  I'm left with the conclusion that Google has left
this site to die on the vine.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: barneca-ga on 28 Oct 2006 05:22 PDT
badgerw, i wasn?t making fun of you making a mistake; i pretty much
guarantee i make more than anyone.  i was (gently, i think) poking fun
at your "correctly, i might add" comment.

i looked at the yahoo answers site, and i was wrong; anyone can
answer, but nobody gets paid.  i could have sworn there was a web site
out there where someone posted a question, anyone could answer, and
the questioner chose the answer they liked best and paid for it via
paypal or something, but i can?t find it, and it may have been a
figment of my imagination.  like i said, i thought that?s how yahoo
answers worked, so i?m obviously at least a little confused.

of course, you could always post a question here about whether such a site exists?

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: mongolia-ga on 28 Oct 2006 17:40 PDT
my two cents to improve the service

1. Double the maximum price and tip for a question.

2. Hire another 500 researchers.

3. Encourage more social interaction between the GAR's and the google  
   organisation and also among the GAR community.

4. Fix the e-mail notification and other issues with the system.

5. Actively Market Google Answers


Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: cryptica-ga on 29 Oct 2006 11:07 PST
I wrote to GA at the time the link with the owl disappeared and
complained.  I got a dismissive response along the lines of Oh, we
don't need to put the link there anymore because we have new services
to promote and dont worry, GA answers and comments will automatically
show up "at the top" when you type a query into the regular Google
search box.

I responded that may be true, but that doesn't bring in NEW users. 
Unless you already know GA exists, you'd have no way of finding it.  
You need a constant infusion of new blood!
To that comment, I got no reply.  

I think the big problem is that the universe of people asking
questions is smaller.  There used to be a huge variety of questions
and I was addicted to GA. . . logging on many times a day.   I don't
think "management" ever promoted GA enough.   I constantly referred
people to this site.  Not one person had ever head of it -- but once
it was pointed out, they were thrilled.

I've looked at the "other" site, YA, and it sure seems like a waste of
time.  So many nothing answers, so many wrong answers.   People there
are competing for points.  The points don't buy them anything or get
them anything, other than the glory of accumulating points.    And the
half-assed answers reflect it.

But I'm also confused.  Several commenters would love to be
researchers, but GA says that door is closed.    But  Keystroke-ga,
you wrote here,  "I just started answering questions a few months
ago." How did you manage to become a GAR?  And can we come with you?!
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: myoarin-ga on 29 Oct 2006 12:02 PST
It seems that we all feel about the same.

I found G-A by chance, searching for a book, and a question on G-A
popped up, and I have been hooked since.  Another recent question
about how G-A is found by people on the web was immediately deleted.

Keystroke admitted elsewhere that he is an early GAR who only recently
became active, very knowledgeably and entertainingly so, thank you.

To return to the idea of my previous comment:  I think people have
become more savvy about how to search for themselves, and maybe the
success of G-A has attracted more demanding questions  - regardlees of
the price -  that defy an answer.  That may be a compliment, but it
may also have a negative influence on the users' impressions and
outside opinions.

One could also speculate that after going public, monetary interests
have gained predominance  - the funds available to purchase services
that seem or are more lucrative; accountants' calculations on returns,
possible savings (email notification?).
I would prefer to see the posting fee increased and notification reinstalled.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: keystroke-ga on 03 Nov 2006 17:21 PST
Thanks myoarin!

Everyone has great suggestions... you should all email them to the
editors and see if they take any of them seriously ;)
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: mongolia-ga on 04 Nov 2006 10:32 PST
Reading through the various comments, I see many of the same points been repeated. 

The initial batch of 500 researchers which were hired in 2002 and
early 2003 have never been added to. However of those chosen, some
waited some time before they started to answer questions. Also I
suspect depending on the Status of the "Day Job"  some researchers
disappear for a while and then come back.

Regarding GA itself , despite all its shortcomings, It actually is a
model that works.  I believe with some intelligent tweaking (including
many of the above suggestions) it could be a wonderful service.

Alas (and it has been said by others) i get the impression that the
powers to be are no longer interested in maintaining it as a useful
Service. Indeed sometimes I think that within the Google Organisation,
GA may be thought of a
as an inconvenience/Pain in the butt which they regretted starting in
the first place.

Despite my last paragraph GA has however been far more successful than
many other attempts to start up a similiar service. It probably does
take deep pockets to start and maintain a service like this. I also
suspect there are many legal issues behind the scenes which Google
must contend with and as a customer to this service I am simply
unaware of.

Regarding Yahhoo's attempt to start "Yahoo Answers", I find their
service to be insulting, childish and so totally tacky , that I wonder
how the officiers of the Yahoo coperation could in good conscience
come up with such a dreadful service.


Regarding your comment about e-mailing the GA editors , I have done
that in the past and if it is general comment about the service it has
simply been ignored. If it about a question which has been removed,
then i get a form e-mailto read their terms and conditions. I am sure
other people have had a similiar experience.


I think your point about people getting more savvy regarding search is
very relevent. One thing which has changed significantly since this
service started has been the development of Wikipedia. Many of the
"easy" questions asked in the early days on the GA forum can now be
answered very quickly by searching


Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: singingbanzo-ga on 11 Nov 2006 15:20 PST
My two cents, as a newcomer client:

I think GA is unique and has his niche, nowhere else you will find not
only well documented answers, but also responsible, creative, and many
times based on first hand experience. But as in other markets, the
bigs bucks come from the clueless. Abundant and easy questions. Now,
if the link is removed from G homepage, the clueless simply won't know
of this service and/or how to get to it. The person who manage to come
and make a question here, already tried some search of his own, and
perhaps took a chance in Wikipedia. Then, scarce and demanding

Besides, the immature people looking just for fun, could be satisfied with YA.

A touchy and oppressive "vibe" (as in jackburton answer in the
atmosphere does not help either. I've been reading a lot of old
questions (2002/2003), and I think it was not always that way.

So, what to do? I think the key is the removed link in the homepage. I
don't want to lose this service, so, as a customer, I wrote to GA
editors asking to put it back. Perhaps if enough clients who cares do
it, we can be heard.

SB (Sorry for may wobbly English)
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: albertr-ga on 15 Nov 2006 04:49 PST
Maybe some enterprising young IT millionaire should buy GA from Google
with the agreement that they would properly promote it from their
search engine. If they are tired of it anyway why wouldn't they let it
go? New blood, new capital, new ideas = improved service.
Who wants to srep up to the plate and take a chance?
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: keystroke-ga on 15 Nov 2006 08:43 PST

What do you mean by the "touchy and impressive vibe"?  The question ID
wouldn't work for me.

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: missy-ga on 15 Nov 2006 18:23 PST
Honored Customers, you can help.

Come ask us questions.  Leave us comments.  Tell your friends and
colleagues to come to us when they need quality research work done,
not half-cocked, flip "advice" a la YA.

Do you have a blog or a LiveJournal/DeadJournal/GreatestJournal/Open
Diary?  Link to us in your blogroll/linklist.  Post about a
cool/funny/flabbergasting answer you've found.  Tell the world that
Google Answers has a wicked case of RAWK!

I don't answer nearly as much as I used to, what with contractual
prohibitions from another project and my children keeping me very busy
with a first chair cellist and third chair violinist, plus guitar
lessons, basketball practice and cooking workshops.  I still love GA,
though, still maintain a space for Researchers, and still check in as
time and contractual obligations permit.

We'd be exactly nowhere without our loyal customers.  Give us a little
press, eh, so we can continue to give you the service and quality you

Warmest regards,

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: sublime1-ga on 15 Nov 2006 20:01 PST
Any users with questions, comments, suggestions, etc. in regards to
Google Answers should contact them at
rather than the editors' email address at the bottom of the page.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: probonopublico-ga on 15 Nov 2006 21:11 PST
Albertr-ga wrote:

'some enterprising young IT millionaire should buy GA from Google' ...

How ageist!

What about all the enterprising OLDER and FAR RICHER Billionaires who
already pervade GA?

myoarin-ga, frde-ga, barneca-ga, nautico-ga are some who immediately
come to mind ...

Of course, they will need a Chairman who can pull it all together and
I shall be delighted to offer my services.

All in favour, say 'Aye!'

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: barneca-ga on 16 Nov 2006 06:03 PST
i am, alas, not an older billionaire, only an older millionaire (in
iraqi dinars).  however, that could change if only i could get my
hands on some older billionaires? wealth.  with that in mind, i vote

Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: denco-ga on 16 Nov 2006 10:10 PST
The sad thing is that if GA was an operation outside of the company in
the first place, the company would be offering $100M for it by now.
Subject: Re: What has happened to Answers?
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Nov 2006 12:59 PST
Missy and Sublime have the best suggestions.

Bryan's isn't bad:  maybe a half way serious appearing offer to buy
G-A would increase interest and support.
The only problem is his assumptions about who could fund this.  
Just 'cause I'm unemployed, now at an age to hide the fact as a
pensioner, doesn't mean I'm a millionaire in any serious currency.

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