Why Shouldn't Google Answers Let People Ask Questions About Google?

I recently wrote an article about how Google Answers won't allow people to ask questions about Google ( more here, http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060622-0815... ). At the end of it, I asked people to come here and answer whether this should be changed. How about people already at Yahoo Answers. Don't you think this should be allowed. Is there any good reason for Google to not allow this? Yahoo Answers doesn't prevent asking questions about Yahoo on it.

11 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    If you fully understood how Google Answers works, and is different from Yahoo Answers, this policy would be understood. Here is how Google Answers works:

    1) Individuals from all over the world are chosen to be official researchers. They do not work for Google and are not employed by Google. Instead, they are the equivalent of webmasters who use Google Adsense. They get paid by Google for their services, but are not unique and do not have any additional information about Google. They are simply experts in various fields who, collectively, could answer just about any general question posed on Google Answers.

    2) The rules for a researcher are simple. They are to USE the Google search engine to research the question asked. Then, answer the question. AND explain what searches on Google led to the answer. In other words, the whole purpose of Google Answers researchers is to eventually help people to help themselves. Rather than Google Answers just becoming a repository of questions and answers, it is a repository of how to properly conduct searches on Google in order to find the answer for yourself.

    3) When someone posts a question, they set a price they are willing to pay. When a Google Answers researcher satisfactorily answers the question, the researcher is paid a majority of that price. A small fee is deducted for the service itself. The end result is, people are paying other people to do their Google searches for them. It's a very legitimate business, since a lot of people are mostly clueless about the right words or phrases to enter into a search box to give them what they are truly looking for.

    4) So, now to the point. If Google allowed people to ask questions about Google itself, you might get questions like, "How can I sign up for Gmail?" A researcher could then respond, "You can visit www.gmail.com and click the link to enter your cell phone number. An invitation code will be sent to your cell phone via text message." The problem is, over time, people could be confused into thinking that Google Answers is actually a place to ask GOOGLE how to use their services. And if people have to PAY for these answers, it would APPEAR as though Google was charging money for general support for their own free services. So, Google is absolutely justified in protecting themselves AND unsuspecting users by disallowing their researchers (and Google) from profiting from those who are really just looking for general support from Google.

    5) Aside from the fact that it would eventually make Google look bad, as mentioned in #4, there is another problem. If someone asks, "How can I sign up for Writely?" A researcher could then respond, "You can check on eBay. There are invitations for Writely being sold for a dollar each." The problem is, this answer is against Google's general philosophy. Google doesn't like the idea of people "selling invites" because it makes an otherwise "free service" profitable. It is along the same lines as open source or freeware authors allowing people to freely distribute their software or source code, but DISALLOWING people from charging money for it. The problem is, if a unsuspecting user visits a Google website (Google Answers) and sees this seemingly official answer, it will appear as though Google is fully authorizing this type of activity. Rather than having to police every single question themselves, trying to be sure that no question may be misleading to users or may misrepresent Google as a company, it makes complete sense to simply disallow paid questions about Google. After all, they would much rather users get answer about Google FOR FREE through their own support pages. And, if the answer to the user's question cannot be found, they can always ask Google directly through the various means of contacting support.

    Why this same policy doesn't likely apply to Yahoo Answers (though it might,) is likely because there aren't financial transactions being made on Yahoo Answers (that I am aware of, at least.) It is points based. Secondly, it is community driven. Anyone and everyone can answer questions, not just specifically selected researchers. One may very well get all the answers they need through Yahoo Answers. If not, however, or there is an absolute need for a quality answer, and you are willing to pay money for the answer, then Google Answers is a safer bet.

    DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Google Answers researcher, though I would like to become one. So, just in case you think I am just trying to defend Google Answers because I am a paid researcher, I will reiterate that I am not a Google Answers researcher. I am just familiar with the service and how it differs from Yahoo Answers and why it is very important for Google to have the policy that they do. It's not only to protect their image, but to protect their users.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    I'm not sure what the exact question was, but I'm sure they have a reason for what they did. Yahoo Answers is a community forum where the people answer questions. Its a very free forum for all ages.

    Maybe google has their own terms. It looks like this google answers is a site where you ask a question to professionals who try to give you factual answers. You cant ask a Foot Doctor if the cancer on your hand is going to go away. But you can ask friends, family, or people who might have had the experience some advice about it. This feels like the same scenario. Yahoo Answers is a COMMUNITY forum. Youre not asking professionals a question, you are asking the advice ffrom actual people.

    If people actually read the disclaimer and the TOS, then they shouldnt be surprised at whatever the forum does. Google is a very informative search engine. They are focused on getting facts for people who want answers. Because of the anal people who sometimes sue companies for stupid reasons, Google has the right to tell a person that they can not ask things that might be used against them if the answers are wrong. Maybe the question asked was something outside of what the contractors working for that site can answer and it was something that needed FACTUAL answers. Some of googles products are money making and they are considered a part of a business, wrong information can lead to problems if the answers are wrong. Google has an obligation to set guidelines over whatever they think would be best for their users.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Flif
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Interesting article. Actually, I've answered a couple of questions about Yahoo! incorrectly here and it really infuriated one of those people. She assumed that I was actually part of customer care.

    More people than you think probably do that, so I can understand why one of Google wouldn't want one of their paid researchers telling people anything about Google when they really don't know anything more than what they can find on the web. Do you know if it was always like this or if there were some misunderstandings early on that caused this rule to be added? It does seem like something that would create a lot of confusion, and if Google isn't equipped to deal with it that's there problem.

    Of course, Yahoo! Answers is just the opposite. They know their customer care isn't always that great so they don't mind much letting other people share the info. It's a great idea since those help pages can be really hard to read sometimes.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Gail
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Sometimes google isn't exactly specific, you could type in what you want and something totally different pops up for some reason. Yahoo gives you direct answers from people. Some questions are opinion questions and people just want to see what other people feel about a matter, there is no right or wrong answer.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago


    I got the same answer you where talking about on your pod cast, they took my question out and I went back and forth with them in a bit of heated exchange. My questions was about, how should I submit a site-map to google, if I am not able to access my yahoo store's sub domain, to place the site-map file, which google requires you to do. I was looking for an honest work around. I put down that I would pay $200 because I did not want to waste time. Well they took the question right off.

    So the answer to your question is "Corporate Paranoia". Oh, and that whole "Don't be evil" motto, went out the door, when they so rudely shut the door in my face and told me to look it up in their help pages. I was willing to hire the researchers at their service, but I know now that their service is not the best.

    Regards, Joe

    P.S. Your pod cast are very informative and entertaining. Thanks!

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    I am from Egypt, and this attitude from Google is not unlike many of the middle-eastern presidents. To appear democratic, they now let you say what ever you want, criticize the government and politics as much as you like, but never, never, question any thing the president is doing.

    That's why I was amazed when I saw this hilarious video clip of Colbert ridiculing Bush's actions *in front* of Bush and the press corr:


    If that was in the middle-east, the president's response would most likely have been like this:


    In conclusion, Google is the president of the Internet, you can't talk about the president, that is the Google democracy.

    -- amr

    DISCLAIMER: I work for yahoo, and frequently critcize Google on my blog:


    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    As Google’s various projects make it ever more pervasive in our online lives they need to become more sensitive to their trustworthiness is perceived. If they seem deceptive or deceitful the eventual backlash could be overwhelming.

    The company’s catchphrase should be amended to “Don’t be evil or stupid.”

    Equivocating and evading like a politician isn’t going to dim the incipient paranoia with which some people regard Google.

    Sure, they should answer questions and with transparency.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    As much as I love google and the services they provide, this is pretty lame. It's pretty much the same kind of whack usage restriction that microsoft so often pushes on its users. Wake up google, you're slowly becoming the guy you used to hate...

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    I think that companies that play a major part in the internet society like Google need to be very open, transparent and democratic. To not allow questions about your own company does not fit in the spirit of open inquiry that is the very core of the internet.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    This is ridiculous, Google should not give themselves special treatment in this case. Huge bias. :)

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.