This post might be the best example of why I occasionally love reading Yahoo Answers, for pure humor value. The question:

How many centimetres is one feet, like if i am 157 cm how many feet i am?

And the best part: not only is the “best answer” totally wrong (5.24 feet?!?), but eight of the 14 following answers are also incorrect. (One of the responders suggests that the answer might be 5’ 6” — a tad over four inches off. Close! And this was penned by a person who has 65 “best answers” recorded, and claims that “I’m graduated from the biggest school in the State of Washington.”) I mean, this isn’t a “what’s the meaning of life” debate… we’re talking about a question which has a no-doubt-about-it correct answer that could be had. The inch has an explicit, non-rounded equivalent length in centimeters, nearly every computer today has a built-in calculator that does conversions, and hell, Google will even do the conversion for you!

I know that picking on Yahoo Answers is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I feel this is my opportunity to point people in the direction of a much more useful site, Ask MetaFilter. There’s a little bit of a higher bar to participation — a one-time $5 membership fee, and a limit of one question a week, but I assure you that the answers are far, far better, and the community there is one of the best on the web.


You might want to point out that if anyone tried to ask a question like that on AskMetafilter, they would not find a very warm reception. Questions answered by an easy google are generally frowned upon.

• Posted by: Margaret on Aug 10, 2008, 1:36 AM

Has anyone asked Yahoo Answers why they rank higher in Google than Ask MetaFilter for most keywords? Maybe Jeeves would know.

• Posted by: Greg on Aug 10, 2008, 4:09 AM

Margaret, that’s true. Of course, I see that as a positive aspect of Ask Metafilter — if someone doesn’t see that it’s far easier to use a search engine than use one of the internet’s ask-a-question site, especially for questions like “how many centimeters is one foot”, then they definitely don’t belong over at AskMe.

Greg, if you don’t know the answer to that question all on your own, then you don’t understand how Google’s search rank algorithm works. Quantity of incoming links will always trump quality of destination page, and Yahoo properties will always have a magnitude more exposure than non-big-box sites.

• Posted by: Jason on Aug 10, 2008, 8:33 AM

Two quick things:

1. The post you linked to is from Yahoo Answers India.

2. Oddly enough, someone else asked the EXACT SAME question on Yahoo Answers US… And did get the right answer this time.

• Posted by: Jackson on Aug 10, 2008, 10:44 AM

I’m not entirely sure it matters that it’s Yahoo Answers India; if anything, we’re talking about a country that’s officially used both the imperial and metric measuring systems, and it’s not like there’s some reason to think that Indian Yahoo users are somehow different than American ones (well, except for nationality, and probably primary language). But I’m glad the US folks were able to figure it out… a fact that doesn’t make any less idiotic the fact that the question was asked.

• Posted by: Jason on Aug 10, 2008, 11:18 AM
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