Question 57 of 365: Who is doing the asking?

Question 57 of 365: Who is doing the asking?

As I have been asking a lot of questions of late, I thought it was time for me to see who else is doing the same. I should have something in common with those other who are also looking for answers, right? A kind of community could be formed around this practice, and in time, we would be able to figure out what makes each of our questions important.

However, after quite a little bit of research, the community may have to wait. It seems as though each site that helps people ask and answer questions isn’t really trying to create a community of practice so much as they are trying to create a database of answers or a platform for connecting questions with answers rather than people together.

This somewhat disheartening notion came from these facts:

So, I guess I am just a little disappointed with the platforms currently available. More than that, though, I am disappointed that more people don’t seem to be noticing that they are connecting with a system rather than with people when they ask questions. I am surprised that they aren’t clamoring for a better community of practice, but perhaps they don’t know how.
Perhaps, the people doing the asking don’t know that they can ask for more. Perhaps, they don’t know that they can get an answer and a network. Perhaps they aren’t aware that the process of asking the question and iterating on that question to find a better one and debating honestly as people instead of avatars can be one of the most rewarding experiences online or offline.
So, who is doing the asking?
Well, right now it is those who have a need, but don’t see what that real need is. It is people who will may find an answer, but won’t find an experience. It is just individuals, and it will remain that way until something allows them to come together and find real solutions, rather than just words.
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  1. Let's look a little more closely and from a different perspective. As of right now, sampling the 10 most recent questions on Yahoo Answers, only two are what I would consider open-ended questions 1) How do I get my 2 and a half year old to eat? 2) Why hasn't the U.S. every been invided? Now, while I'm not one to make assumptions, I'd wager “lolzimjapanese” wasn't looking for a deep discussion when he turned to the world for a better understanding of global military strategy. As for “Charleighsmum,” I'm going to point to Question 7 on this one. Granted, I've never had a toddler, but I'm well aware of the dozens of books available on the topic. This is to say nothing of the fact that a simple search of the Interwebs will bring back a multitude of more thoroughly vetted answers than the good populace of yahoo.
    At the same time, I don't know that I can find fault in the platform. Yahoo has set up a decent space here for community to discuss. I'd argue the discussion isn't happening because there's no real community here. This is not to say this kind of community doesn't exist somewhere online. Take a look at the discussion happening on the Wikipedia entry on “invasion” and you'll see some thinking that would likely overwhelm “lolz”. As for “Charleighsmum,” I'd direct here to do a search on WebMD for Toddler Nutrition or head over to
    The point of all of this is to suggest that the sites you've listed above don't fail, nor would I assume their users don't know they can ask for more. The purpose of these sites is largely to answer closed questions. For the larger, ongoing questions, distinct communities are popping up. If we charitably consider the forums at YouBeMom to be online 3rd Places, then Yahoo Answers and their ilk are 4th Places.

  2. how have i not been aware of you and your thinking before..
    i love that you are pushing yourself and the rest of us beyond being a cogship – simply keeping the motion. just because that's what we do.
    i love that you get and promote community.
    without people and story telling (sharing out questions) at the core, there is no value.

  3. I really feel like the internet, in just the last 18 months or so, has finally hit puberty full swing. It's a growth spurt out of control, gangly and both physically and socially uncoordinated. We are seeing what it's becoming, but just when we think it's there, it surprises you, sometimes by taking steps backwards, but often by going sideways.

    Teenage analogies aside, you've picked up on the problem many are faced with now: pushing out content is easy, but gathering reactions is hard. I can send one tweet and it automatically gets posted to my blog, Buzz, Facebook, FriendFeed, Linkedin, and just about anywhere else I want it to go. Responses to that content, however, are so incredibly fractured. A Facebook comment doesn't show up on my blog, a retweet doesn't trigger a “Like” in Buzz, etc. Communities of all types will become well-defined as these fractured comment systems improve.

    For example, I saw this post in Buzz, so I first replied in Buzz. It's sometimes hard to separate comments (which usually belong near the source) from conversation (which Buzz would be better at).

  4. I love that you make me go concrete with this. You provide a perfect example
    for the state of question asking on the web. I do realize that I am blaming
    people a lot in my post, but I am really trying to figure out who those
    people are and why are their questions (in my opinion) so underwhelming.

    The problem I see with the 3rd space as you describe them is that we are
    forced to organize things according to topic rather than the process of
    asking questions and in the 4th space (including, perhaps, wikipedia) we are
    organizing by aggregation (ask simple questions, get simple answers, or
    answers that you can get elsewhere).

    I want a space that focuses on the process of asking good questions and
    focusing ourselves on finding answers to those questions through a process
    that we can commit to as a value rather than as something that is just “out

    I want a community of process and progress and not a community of topics or

  5. I'm not sure how our paths have never crossed before. I'm not sure that I
    get “community”, but I do get “my community” to a certain extent and I know
    what helps it to grow. And, for the most part, it is hard to see communities
    like mine happening without a lot of effort. I'm willing to put in the
    effort, but I need help figuring it all out. Thanks for helping.

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