“Google Answers” withdrawn

I am a big Google fan and really became a fan after I started using "Google Scholar." Google Scholar searches citations of scholarly work and lists them in terms of number of citations. Researchers fume at the inaccuracies of Google Scholar because all scholarly material is not digitized (as yet) and perhaps the Scholar algorithms miss some. Nevertheless, Google Scholar gives you a rough cut and if you are otherwise familiar with the scholarly domain you can quickly pick up what is useful and what are  "algorithmic" faux pax.

Familiarity or knowledge is also crucial to make sense of regular "Google" and "Yahoo" searches. Some years ago academe was quite alarmed at students using search engine sources but seemed to have become more accepting these days.

It was therefore with some interest that I learnt the the paid "Google Answers" service has been withdrawn. Google Answers used human support (freelance librarians) to help answer a question. This is the third product to be withdrwan by Google the others being Google Viewer and Google Voice Search. Not bad at all for the many wonderful new products that Google has in beta. Interestingly Yahoo Answers which is free is still on. 

Commentary is mixed on this development. With forums,wikipedia,blogs etc. somebody who has domain knowledge does not need a paid search- if you don’t know the domain the best answers are gibberish, if you don’t know the person answering, as some of the commentators mention. Fascinating, because even gibberish is completely believable with people who we trust like our garage mechanic and doctor when we might not know much about cars or the human body… "Google Answers" obviously figured this out.

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