Thursday, June 3, 2010

Internet and & Cheap information

About Yahoo Answers, WikiAnswers, blogs and other unreliable source of information

Today everybody is blogging, everybody can put a cheap answer on a free “social network” web site and everybody can “spit” information. But rarely the experts are speaking. Usually, there are just 15 years old kids expressing random opinion from their “experienced” life. The worst of all is Yahoo Answers where the (kitsch) avatars of the people worth more than the “information” they over-enthusiastic share.

I had a good laugh today when reading a section about hard drive failures on WikiAnswers web site. Somebody was asking how to repair a dead disk. The answer? "Although in some cases the error can be fixed by adding cooling or defragging and/or formatting…" (WikiAnserws, 2008).
Follow non-expert opinions and all you will get is a dead drive and a bunch of lost data.
This is the difference between a paid answer and a wiki answer: instead of replacing the disk for a lazy $100 you are going to spend $5000 in a Data Recovery shop.

I don't know from where the people got the idea that defrag/format if a magic tool that repair all computer's problem. Is like an urban myth. I use format just once at 2-3 years when I buy a new hard drive.
In this case adding extra cooling is like hiding the pain provoked by a serious disease with painkillers, defrag is like treating cancer with aspirin and formatting is like a criminal deciding to start a new life by making some quick money :)
A pro will never waste its time to provide free answers for newbie on such wikies (especially when it can sell its answer for a good price on other channels).

I don't think that WikiAnwers has a chance of success on long run. When you base your business on cheap content provided by random users all you can offer is answer of low quality.
The problem today is that Internet is over-saturated by these phenomena. Blogs and forums and wikies appeared all over in the last few years, all pretending that their community is better than others. I don't say that these things should not exist. Everybody has the right to express its opinion. What I am saying is that after a bloom always follows a burst (like in the case of dot net burst in 2000-2001). Soon all these free sources of (inexact) content fill filter out by themselves.

At the end all you can ask your self is how to call it: 'free content' or 'cheap information’?

PS: also ready the “User generated content: No Guarantee of Validity" declaration on WikiAnserws web site (at It speaks by itself.

Reference list:

WikiAnserws (2008) What does SMART failure mean [Online] Available from:
(Accessed: 16 April 2008)

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