The Internet has become the de facto place to find answers to just about any question.
For queries from “Who starred in that 1978 sci-fi flick?” to “How many dimples are on a golf ball?” to “What’s the population of my hometown?” you can fill in the blanks nicely with a search at Google, Yahoo, Bing or another search engine.
But sometimes questions have more than one answer and you must dig deeper to find the most accurate response.
Next time this happens, I suggest you point your browser to Answers.com, a site that delivers answers in a number of ways. Roughly half of the content on Answers.com is user-generated. These questions and answers reside on the “Community Q&A” portion of the site, also known as Wiki Answers (wiki.answers.com). Wiki Web sites, as defined by Answers.com are: “designed to enable users to make additions or edit any page of the site. They often have a common vocabulary and consider themselves a ‘wiki’ community.”
(Wikipedia is another popular wiki community.)
The other half of Answers.com is the site’s “Reference Answers” portion.
Here, content is licensed from more than 250 sources on more than 5 million topics, Answers.com founder and CEO Bob Rosenschein said.
“We aim to be big, useful and smart,” he said. “We are your everything about everything page.”
Plenty of people concur with Rosenschein, as the site has provided more than 9 billion answers to date, including 6.75 million from more than 4.16 million registered users. In addition to English, the site is available in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Tagalog languages.
Rosenschein said the site gets 50 million unique visitors from the United States every month, and a total of 75 million unique visitors worldwide.
The site can’t help you find old friends famous or track down your lost baseball mitt. The support team gives answers to questions about the Answers.com site and the software, but they don’t do research to find answers not already on the site. The company has offices in Jerusalem, Israel and New York and employs about 70 people.
I found it entertaining, and a bit perplexing, to browse the site’s “Unanswered Questions” section. Queries awaiting resolution include: “How do you wash diesel out of clothes?” and “Why did people stop using the cubit?”
For a quicker route to Answers.com’s information database and a direct pipeline to the site’s resources, users can download and install the 1-Click Answers widget for either PC or Macintosh computers or a Firefox toolbar plug-in.
For the record, most golf balls have 336 dimples, although there may be between 300 and 500. You can look it up.
Share your Internet story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.TIP OF THE WEEK
Test the uniqueness of your browser configuration for a score to determine how easily identifiable you might be as you surf the Web. Click the “Test Now” button to send anonymous data that is used to determine your risk of being identified. The site is a research project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. You can see much more about the mathematics and logic behind the test here: (http://bit.ly/cLexCK)