WikiAnswers: offering tasty information, even if…

At WikiAnswers, we pride ourselves on our hundreds of categories: Cars, Computers, Collectibles… and those are just the ones that start with ‘C’. We’re especially proud of our Food & Cooking section, which is chock full of tasty tips and resplendent recipes.

Apparently, that category in particular has served up something else, which helped out the bloggers at Gateway Skepticism, a blog kept by “The St. Louis Skeptical Society, which was founded on October 11, 2007 by a handful of physics graduate students in order to promote skepticism, science, and critical thinking.”

This past Tuesday, on their search to find out, ahem, how to get better tasting semen (honestly, they’re just curious) they checked out quite a few internet research hot spots, and WikiAnswers was one of their last steps. Well, what do you know, in the Nutrition section we had just what they were looking for.

And there you have it. WikiAnswers, helping our most curious users, every step of the way…

(Whew. I hope I managed a tasteful post out of that!)

What rhymes with cheeks?

Special guest today! I’m pleased to present this week’s edition of WikiAnswers Wednesday, written by no other than the Rhyme Master. Ok, I don’t actually know who that is, and the rhyming is questionable at best… But who doesn’t love a good, creative answer once in a while?

What rhymes with cheeks?

“I see you have a problem with rhyming,

I certainly hope that I have replied with good timing!

I am the rhyme master,

I rhyme and eat pasta,

no one can rhyme faster!

To rhyme with ‘cheeks’

the following words

may be used on

any day of the weeks,

words like:

leaks,

peeks,

speaks,

seeks

and beak…

yo!

So just use your ears

and the rhyme master will

call to you in the wind,

do not fear!”

Super Bowl Math

300x250-superbowl.gifThe upcoming Giants/Patriots game is the talk of the town. If you don’t know what game I’m talking about then you don’t deserve to read the rest of this entry…so stop right here.

We had to get in on the action so the latest featured topic over at WikiAnswers is, of course, the Super Bowl. Our special guest columnist, Jim, tuned in with some Super Bowl math to help us out today. Jim always comes through when we need him…he seems to know something about everything!

What are the expenses for both teams in the Super Bowl?

According to Jim…

The expenses for both teams in the Super Bowl can be answered by using simple Dionysian geometry. Take the mean number of players for each team and put them in a differential algorithm that calculates the basic cost of each player. Once you have this number, you can find out the expenses for each team.

I’ll save you the time and tell you what the results are. For the Patriots, it is 1.2 million dollars before taxes. For the Giants, it is 1.6 million dollars.

Don’t read any more if you don’t want to know the result of the Super Bowl. Patriots win 49-26!!!

While calculating expenses it’s also important not to forget that the Super Bowl means so much to so many countries, not just the US. For example, in Micronesia the Super Bowl is celebrated by reciting Homer’s Iliad and a nationwide Israeli folk dance. The Super Bowl brings out the best in cultural sharing throughout the world.

I hope this helps, and I’m always here for any super bowl questions you might have.
Finally, Meital, will you marry me?

—–

Huh? Is that a marriage proposal? I guess she’s the only who can answer THAT question…how about YOU go ahead and answer some of the other Super Bowl questions now!

 

A Little Bit of Nice…

Our fantastic, wonderful Supervisor WikiWand posted a series of questions and answers on the site this past week that all have something to do with communicating and wiki-ing effectively with other Supervisors.

One of the questions I really like is: Are there rules of courtesy between WikiAnswers Supervisors?

The simple answer is, no. There are no written rules, as we have always tried to maintain a fun, community-driven site; a site built on collaboration and free from endless policies and guidelines. Boxing gloves have never been required and we certainly don’t plan on promoting any ring action in the near future. So remember to keep it real… On and off WikiAnswers, a little bit of nice goes a loooooong way.

WikiAnswers: Your Super Bowl source…

The biggest game of the year is quickly approaching… And plenty of Patriotic people are already starting to ask questions about this Giant event. Like this blogger, who asks:

What happens if the football team of the host city of the Super Bowl makes it to the Super Bowl?

Glad to read he got his answer… Looking for Super Bowl answers yourself? Stay tuned…

Remembering Challenger and Columbia

RememberanceWe chose our most recent featured topic to honor the brave astronauts who lost their lives aboard the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. The nation watched in disbelief as the Challenger space shuttle exploded on live television 73 seconds after lift-off over the Atlantic Ocean on January 28, 1986. Seventeen years later, on February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated over Texas as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere.

In all, 14 lives were lost and the impact of the tragedies can still be felt around the world.

The WikiAnswers community invites you to honor the memories of Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik from the Challenger and Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Kalpana Chawla, David M. Brown and Laurel Clark from Columbia.

Ask and answer questions about these two missions on WikiAnswers now.

Calling All WikiAnswers Contributors

There’s a little ole’ category on WikiAnswers that goes by the name of Miscellaneous. And boy, does it need to clean up its act! Or rather, would you help us clean it up? As explained in a previous post, Miscellaneous is often used as a last (and first) resort for question placement. Unfortunately, most questions that go into this area could be better categorized somewhere else. Because we now feature over 2,300 categories (and growing each day!), there are very few questions that would truly qualify as Miscellaneous.

Currently this rough and tough area features over 13,500 Q&As. Wow! If each of us could spend just 15 minutes a day moving some of these into better categories, we’d have Miscellaneous cleaned up in no time at all. Together, this outlaw doesn’t stand a chance!

outlaw

Recategorizing is easy. Simply click on Miscellaneous under Browse Categories on WikiAnswers home page. Select a question from this area and choose ‘Recategorize’ which is located on the left under Question Tools. Remove the checkmark from Miscellaneous and place a checkmark in the more appropriate category or categories. Select ‘Save’ and you’re good to go. One down, only a few more to go (give or take).

When correctly categorized, questions and answers are much easier to find. And more questions have a chance of getting answered. So won’t you help us out? It’s a great way to boost your contributions and get your name on WikiAnswers Top Contributors list.

A new word for a Nou day.

AnswerTips on your websiteCheck this out: Scott of It’s a Nou Day! just posted an awesome idea.

He’s added AnswerTips to his blog and is now adding a word of the day to the bottom of his posts. If his readers want to see the meaning, they’ve got to double-click. Instead of being taken to a new page, they get a small bubble with the definition; when they are done reading, they just close it.

Everybody wins; Scott and his readers learn something new and nobody has to leave his site.

Today’s word for Scott is cantankerous. Hmm… A bit of a ‘disagreeable’ word for such a lovely idea, but we’ll take it! (Psst… double-click to find out what it means.)

And, of course, what better to title the idea but Nou Word of the Day

By the way, no.stupid.answers is AnswerTips-enabled, too, so feel free to double-click anywhere and get a pop-up definition.

Thanks Scott!

How many pounds is equal to 5 kg?

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not that good at the whole math-counting-numbers thing. So this week’s WikiAnswers Wednesday spotlight will be answered by someone a little more adept at the subject, our very own guest columnist, Jim.

How many pounds is equal to 5 kg?

Hi, I’m so glad you asked. Just the other day I was wondering the same thing myself. Well, I did some extensive research and this is why I found.

The key to answering this question is knowing what kind of product you’re talking about. 5kg of rice does not weigh the same amount as 7kg of flour or even 11kg of soy sauce. Each product has its own unique conversion formula. For example. 1kg of rice is worth four pounds of soy sauce in Indonesia and three pounds of barley in Manitoba. 1kg of potatoes will only buy you one toy car in Idaho, but if you take that same kilo to Belize you could bargain your way in to receiving a free boat and scuba excursion.

Science will try to tell you that one pound is 2.2 kg, but if you’re like me you’re skeptical of science. I go by the free market to make my decisions in life. Personally, I have 5kg of whipped cream that I would like to trade for some new whipped cream. Mine has passed the expiration date, but don’t tell anyone. I hope I can get 8 pounds of new whipped cream for my 5kg of old. Do you know anybody looking to switch?

I hope this helped you out, and if you have any other questions, WikiAnswers ain’t going nowhere.

-Jim

The King of Contributions: All hail RoyR!

Through a whopping 123,700 – and rapidly rising – contributions, RoyR has been reigning as king of the Top 100 WikiAnswers Contributors list for a while now… Maybe it’s because he’s also been contributing since just about the beginning of the Q&A site’s history.

His Majesty, ever-generous with his time and knowledge, contributes in various ways: he is the Supervisor of the Hobbies and Collectibles category and a Community Assistant across the site.

We take an inside look at what makes RoyR, the number #1 WikiAnswers contributor, tick:

How did you originally hear about WikiAnswers?

WikiAnswers came to me while searching for information about an old firearm. In a Q&A forum, one question about “New York Arms Co.” had attracted hundreds of other questions about old shotguns and I started answering some of them. Then one day there was a notice that the forum was being discontinued and a link to the then-new ‘FaqFarm’ site. I followed the link and have been here ever since.

When Chris, the founder of FaqFarm, put up a ‘help wanted’ ad, I became the first “editor” on the site. At first there were only three choices: Accept, Edit, or Delete. It wasn’t too hard to keep up with a few hundred entries a night even working from a dial-up internet connection and we actually tried to correct all the spelling and grammar in each question.

I managed to survive the transition from FaqFarm to WikiAnswers and here I am.

What motivates you to volunteer your time to the WikiAnswers community?

It can’t be the pay. Must be the perks – a parking space right by the office door, frequent smoke breaks, all the coffee I can drink (and a bathroom right next to my office). Maybe there’s a clue there. I’m addicted to caffeine and nicotine and Wiki-tene.

What is your area of expertise?

I’ve managed to learn a bit about numismatics in 40+ years of collecting coins and several years ago I started researching some firearms that are family hand-me-downs. I now have a ton of reference books on both subjects. I am also a repository of half-remembered useless information. I don’t necessarily know a lot about any subject, but I know where to look for the answers, often right on WikiAnswers or Answers.com.

What is the funniest question/funniest experience as a Supervisor on WikiAnswers?

Some of the best questions are the ones I have to delete because of the “adult” content. But there was “What were Lewis and Clark’s last names?”

A couple of WA answers made me chuckle:

Q: “Who made old shotguns?”

A: “No one. But lots of people made new shotguns a long time ago.”

And the classic (I hope it hasn’t been deleted again):

Q: “How do you get past the blocks at school”?

A: “Step over them. If they’re stacked really high, throw your crayons at them.”

Share a random fact about yourself.

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Eight years in the US Navy. Vietnam era, but not a Vietnam vet.
  • Computer programmer, hoping to retire in another year or two.
  • Father of two, grandfather of four with the latest arriving just last week. All living close enough to spoil, but far enough away that a weekly or monthly visit is still something special.

Help Clean Up Miscellaneous!

The other day one of our awesome WikiAnswers Supervisors (Ganderton) posted a request for help on the forum. He – along with most of us – would very much like to see our Miscellaneous category lose some weight.

misc

Miscellaneous is often used as a last (and first) resort for question placement. Unfortunately, most questions that go into this area could be better categorized somewhere else. Each day Miscellaneous packs on the pounds; in fact, for every 100 questions removed and recategorized, 30 more are added. Because we now feature over 2,300 categories, there are very few questions that would truly qualify as Miscellaneous.

Ganderton mentioned that his first action in the morning is to bring up new questions in Miscellaneous – with the entire page full of miscategorized questions. He does this several more times throughout the day; however, he has never found where he left off on the previous session. In his words, “It’s like bailing out the Titanic with a tea cup.” So we are asking for your help. If every Supervisor could dedicate just 15 minutes a day to moving questions out of Miscellaneous, it would certainly shape up fast.

Here are a few pointers: As a question reaches high popularity in the Unanswerable Questions to Edit category it will have various alternate wordings that can be swapped for the current version. This is an easy way to figure out what the person was most likely asking. Often the question will get answered by someone who understands gibberish and you can reword the question to reflect what the answer tells you.

(Another gigantic THANK YOU to Ganderton for helping write this post and for his dedication to WikiAnswers and the cause of the greater good. Onward and upwards!)

Share the Fun of WikiAnswers!

inboxDid you know that you can quickly send any question – answered or unanswered – to your friends, family or business associates?  This is a great way to share the fun of WikiAnswers, spread a little knowledge and even generate some help answering those tricky questions.

Have a budding comic in the family?  Consider sending them something from our Humor and Amusement Corner.  Imagine their laughter when the question “When sign makers go on strike is anything written on their signs?” arrives in their in-box.  Or maybe your boss is really hooked on football.  Score some points by e-mailing him an interesting tidbit from the ever-growing Football History category. Simply choose a question and click the ‘Send to a Friend’ link located on the left under Question Tools.  Fill in the required fields and click ‘Send’.  It’s that easy… you can even customize your message.

Have fun and enjoy the site!

Dapper makes the widgets go ’round.

On the Answers.com Widget Gallery, which you have undoubtedly visited and used at least 742512346062 times by now, you may have noticed that we used RSS to build the various widgets.Dapper

And that’s where Dapper, “The Data Mapper,” came in and swept us off our feet. Dapper “aims to make it easy and possible for anyone to extract and reuse content from any website.”

Essentially, you can take content from anywhere on the web and create your own RSS feeds, flash widgets, Facebook applications, and more, using Dapper’s step-by-step process.

We worked closely with the Dapper folks as we developed our own widgets, and by ‘worked closely,’ I mean bugged them with questions and showered them with compliments.

So, thanks Dapper guys, for “feeding us” our menu of Facebook apps and Blogger, Vox and HTML widgets!

Buddhism Facebook app from WikiAnswers

Hey, it’s WikiAnswers on Facebook!

P.S.: Get a Dapper-inspired Facebook app of no.stupid.answers and read us from your profile.

What was England’s population in 1991?

Jim’s back this week. He’s pushing me off of my desk chair right now – ooof – dls?jghdfjyudjueakl;jwr!gh – hey! careful with this keyboard!

Sorry, he’s just very eager to answer today’s WikiAnswers Wednesday question. Alright, alright, here you go, man…

Presenting, the all-knowing, ever-wise, and never-wrong Jim and today’s question:

What was England’s population in 1991?

To answer what at first appears to be a seemingly impossible question it’s important to remember a few important points.

1. Census date still does not exist in England. The English do not believe in numbers, having their society still influenced by ancient Druid beliefs. Druids were an ancient mystical people who didn’t believe in numbers or counting. In an ancient druid market if someone wanted three apples they would shout “churn that butter or I’ll cast a spell upon you making your eye fall out!”

2. The ancient Druids were very advanced, for their time of course. You can’t say anything the druids did is still advanced today. We’d laugh at them today if they tried to show us their advanced technologies. Personally I’d break their stones.

3. England is a country where population is less of a concern than afternoon naps, bedtime stories, and attempted vaccination attempts. What would really be a good question is how many English people have been injected with an anthrax vaccine. The answer is 76.5% of the 1991 population. A good follow-up question is: How effective are these vaccines? The answer can be best be summed up in telling a parable about water purity.

In conclusion, I am not going to tell you the answer to this question. How would that help you? Think of me as that fishing guy who teaches you how to fish. Now you have the tools to go out and conquer this question. I wish you luck. The following website also helps: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census/

-Jim

Presenting: the Answers.com Widget Gallery

Widget Gallery

Ahem! Announcement! Attention, please!

Now you can proudly display your favorite questions and answers by topic on your blog, website, desktop, Facebook, personal homepage and more.

Generate your own Answers.com and WikiAnswers widgets to embed in your favorite platforms with the brand new Widget Gallery.

Personalize your widgets to display:

Word of the Day | Wine Word of the Day | Today in History | Technology Q&A | Environment Q&A | Health Q&A | Law Q&A | Sports Q&A | Travel Q&A… and more.

Are you a tech blogger? Display updated technology Q&A on your blog’s sidebar. Sports fans can get the latest sports questions delivered straight to their personal homepage. The nutrition-conscious can feed their Facebook with healthy-diet Q&A.

Widgets can be customized to appear on:

Blogger | WordPress | Facebook | iGoogle | Netvibes | Yahoo | Apple Dashboard | Vista | RSS | Windows Live… and more.

See the full Widget Gallery.

Oh Where, Oh Where Does That Question Go…

…oh where, oh where does it go? If you’ve been singing the blues over WikiAnswers categorization, you’re not alone. We all have those moments when we ponder over where to place a question. Should it go in Grilling, Recipes… both? Would it be better to place it in Miscellaneous, and just let someone else tackle it? What if there is no perfect category?

Don’t fret. Here are some pointers on getting that question into the right category (or categories) the first time around:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the current category tree. Do not assume that a category does not exist as the tree is constantly growing. At first, this might be a little overwhelming, but as time passes you will become more familiar with the tree and recognize immediately what might be a good fit for a misplaced question.
  2. Explore possible question placements from different angles. For example, if you have a question about the human body that doesn’t seem to fit into Health, take a look at Science. It might be perfectly suited for Human Anatomy.
  3. Leave a message for the category Supervisor or post a message on the Super Forum. Note: Always link the question of concern to better assist in this process.
  4. Often using AnswerTips™ can point you in the right direction. Just double-click on any keyword in the question and see what comes up.
  5. If the question truly has no home and there are many others with similar qualities, request that a new category be added to the tree.
  6. In most cases, Miscellaneous should be used as a last resort. For those questions that are harmless yet will most likely never have a topic that they fit into – opt for Harmless Nonsense – Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?. Unanswerable Questions to Edit, is reserved for questions that cannot be answered in their current condition and when there is not enough information included for someone else to fix – Why did this happen in WW2?.

Once you’ve found a logical ‘home’ for a question:

  1. Place it in the most specific topic as possible. For example, a question about Zebras should be placed in Zebras, not Animal Life, Mammals, Land Mammals, etc.
  2. If a question fits logically into two separate unrelated topics feel free to add both. “What is the estimated Zebra population in Ethiopia?” should be placed in Zebras and Ethiopia.

(A big thanks to our wonderful Senior Super Ksmail (Ken) for collaborating with me on this important post… You da’ man, KS!)

Finding Your Question is Easier than Finding a Needle in the Haystack

haystackOne of the questions that I am asked most often is, “How do I find the questions that I’ve posted on WikiAnswers?” Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news: finding your questions is easy. The bad news: there are no voice commands, so you will be required to click your mouse a few times.

<click click>

Here is some info on finding questions (along with any answers that contributors have offered):

If you don’t know the URL and your question is not on your Watchlist (located on the left side of the page in the blue shaded area), the easiest way to find it is to search for it (use Option 1).

You could also re-ask your question. That will take you to the existing question page. If you can’t remember the exact wording, ask something similar and see if it pops up in the list of possible same-as existing questions. Find your question and click on the link. If all else fails, click on My Bio Page, where you can view your history of contributions.

<click click>

Peacock Tactics

Fact: Humans and Chimps share 98.5% of the same DNA; even more astonishing is the fact that we share about ¾ of our DNA with earthworms (maybe there is a genetic basis to the mounting popularity of dreadlocks, m’on). These scientific facts are important to keep in mind when making contributions to WikiAnswers areas that involve biology, zoology, genetics and of course, the never-ending and wonderfully complex area of human psychology.

As a former zookeeper and now a supervisor of the mental health category on WikiAnswers, I would often come across a question about people, communication and relationships and link it to a theory or explanation stemming from scientific literature, in the field of animal behavior.

I will make my case in point:

WA animal Question: “Why does a peacock have multicolored feathers?’

This brought me back to a mental health question I had read the other day- “How can a man attract women?”

Let’s begin with the first question which has a simple concrete answer grounded on scientific fact. A peacock, Pavo Cristatus, has multicolored feathers so he can attract and mate with as many peahens as possible. The bright plumage draws attention to the male; showing off his vibrant feathers is a sign of health. His unnaturally large and disproportionate tail, which would otherwise hinder an animal’s survival, is proof of his successful survivability; this is known as Handicap Theory. The loud peafowl call that echoes through the woods is a symbol of his dominance and vigor. His heavy tail-waiving and dancing is a sign of strength. The entire display has the peahens swooning, or scientifically speaking ‘sexually selecting’ the male, which in turn ensures the production of future offspring.

Now we can begin to understand the answer to the question “How can a man attract women?” Note: man is a singular word and women is plural- He does not want to attract a woman, or the woman- he wants to attract ‘em all.

This can be quite difficult because, unfortunately for males of the human species, they do not have multicolored feathers to draw attention to themselves. They achieve this in other ways: Large cumbersome biceps, absurd displays of bravado and pretending to enjoy ‘Sixteen Candles’ are some examples. Of course, it always helps to drive a convertible, hood down, wearing some bling. And just so you know, bling can come in many forms- from a 24-karat diamond studded chain to the latest iPhone – a bit more age appropriate for the older folks, not that age has ever been a discriminating factor.

In fact, peacocks can live up to 15 years- and are fully capable of breeding in the last years of their life. It may be hard to believe that even in its ripe old age, the senior citizen peacock will continue attempts to win over the peahens. By waving its tail, now wrought with arthritis, and sounding the mating call through its beak dentures – he will use every last ounce of energy for the shot at attracting the peahen.

Maybe the peacock would have it a bit easier if he knew what the peahen really wanted was for him to clean up the nest, complement her on how beautiful her feathers grew in after the molt, or catch a few worms for dinner once in a while, without being asked. But what do they know? They are just silly birds…

Coming up next: Zebra stripes and workers’ strikes- They have more in common than you think…

On average how old is a 13-year-old?

Mathematics was never really my thing. I failed a couple of math exams here and there. So when I see a stumper like this one, I just have to sit down and take a deep breath:

On average how old is a 13-year-old?

Ok, so let’s see: If I add three and ten, divide it by fifteen, carry the one, shake my left hand three times, add the totals and then divide by zero, I’m fairly sure the answer is – wait for it:

Thirteen.