Combating plagiarism with helpful checkers.

Recognizing itself as a site that relies on user-generated content, WikiAnswers has created and enforces a detailed Plagiarism Policy. It doesn’t happen every day, but when members do come across copied information in answers, it helps to know that there are ways for handling it:

  • Removing the copied material is a must.
  • Adding the web page with the helpful material as a Related Link is a great way to guide readers towards it without copying it directly.
  • Summarizing the content in your own words in the answer and citing/linking the resource is also acceptable and encouraged.
  • Of course, informing the user who copied the content into the answer is crucial so they don’t make the same mistake again. Most users are just trying to help out, and sometimes lose track. Use the message boards for this.

Earlier this week, I came across this blog post in Search Engine Journal which rates online plagiarism checkers.

They’re rating five checkers based on data source, registration required, reliability and usability. Seems like Copyscape came out the winner.

So if you come across an answer on WikiAnswers that seems to be from another site, plug it in to the checker and hope for the best.

Face to face with Wikiholics.

As you could not possibly have forgotten, there was a WikiAnswers Supervisors Conference back in September, where folks from deep inside the trenches – whether on the product development side or the active wiki side – got together in New York City to discuss, debate, laugh and cheer on the wonderful world of WikiAnswers.

At the time, a few of the ‘Wikiholics’ present volunteered to be interviewed and videoed in a quick documentary of their Wikiholicism for all of internet eternity. Now that we’re all back in our computer chairs/couches/beds with our laptops on hand and our browsers pointed to WikiAnswers, I thought it might be nice to review the footage and be inspired over and over.

Warning: this video contains explicit Wikiholicism. If you yourself are a Wikiholic and don’t think you’ll be able to last watching  a video instead of answering and editing, then this video is especially for you.

Like what you saw? Pass it around to your friends and family. This addiction can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. And who are we to stop it?

What should you know about child safety on Halloween?


It’s WikiAnswers Wednesday, and we’re coming dangerously close to Halloween these days. There are probably all kinds of questions going through your mind, like:

But there’s one question you may not have considered yet, and there is an answer to that question that will absolutely shock and horrify you:

What should you know about child safety on Halloween?

My dear friends – keeping yourself safe when those children come knocking at your door is the most important thing you can possibly do this Halloween. Children are the number one source of candy theft in America on October 31st.

They use all different kinds of tactics – they play on your fear, they employ terror, and of course, they charm with their cuteness.

Do not fall for it! Keep your candy to yourself! Kids just can’t appreciate a Reese’s peanut butter cup the way adults can.

For more Halloween Q&A… you know what to do:

Will answer for candy!

Speaking of categories…

Thought I’d pass along a list of some of the latest categories that have been added to the wonderful WikiAnswers category tree:

Browsing categories just got… browsier.

A whole bunch of new features and pretty touches went live on WikiAnswers today, but one that I am particularly fond of is the new layout for the Browse Categories page. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

You may or may not have hung out in that part of wiki-town before, but you should definitely stop by for the tag cloud, the Newest Categories list, the detailed categories tree, but most of all, the Find As You Type-supported Find a Category feature.

Brosw Categories on WikiAnswers

That baby comes equipped with all the categories on WikiAnswers. All you need to do is start typing the first letters of the category you seek and it pops right up in a suggested list below the box. Much like the version on the homepage and beyond. Works great if you’re not sure what you’re looking for and you want to find obscure categories you’ve never come across before.

Here are some other great features that just went live today:

New message with an open mouth!

What’s that little hut I see?

Here’s a mystery word for you: succah. It’s pronounced soo-KAH or SOOK-uh.

If you know what it is, how it should be built and what you’re supposed to do inside it, what are you waiting for? Start answering before you-know-what is over.

If you’re wondering why on earth these huts have been popping up in backyards recently, let’s see if we can’t get you some answers.

Today’s moment of awesome.

WikiAnswers was rated as one of “four awesome instructional DIY websites” on Web Upon yesterday. Here’s an excerpt of what the post’s author had to say:

“This is a better quality version of the same forums as set by Yahoo! Answers; however, the moderation of this site tends to weed out more of the scam artists and internet thugs. I also find that Wiki Answers has slightly less traffic than Yahoo! Answers, but that traffic is of a more expert nature.”

It’s really cool to hear someone recognizing two of the major points I like to boast about WikiAnswers:

1. WikiAnswers really works hard on its moderation system; the over 400 Supervisors are volunteers from around the world, working around the clock to clean, organize and keep the site’s community running smoothly.

2. Expertise is the game! From doctors to lawyers, mechanics to teachers, WikiAnswers boasts all kinds of professionals who are dedicated to adding accurate answers to all kinds of questions.

Thanks for the recognition, Web Upon!

Are there any poems written about WikiAnswers?

Ah, the seasons are changing; we are coming up on changing the clocks in a few. The fall and winter seasons make me feel dark and poetic. Let’s explore that together with Jim for this week’s WikiAnswers Wednesday.

Are there any poems written about WikiAnswers in both trochaic and iambic pentameters?

The great thing about WikiAnswers is its natural versatility. Here’s one unnamed example of both poetic meters in action. I’ve isolated each part of each line so you can clearly tell this way which part belongs to which meter.

׀ Yee-haw ׀ Fight-em ׀ Cow-boys ׀ Give-em ׀ Hell-er ׀

׀ Wi-ki ׀ An-swers ׀ the-Site ׀ with-Two ׀ Op-tions ׀

׀ Shake-speare ׀ Wrote-em ׀ in-Iam ׀ bic pen-Tameter ׀ he-Did ׀

One can clearly see that the first line is written entirely in trochaic pentameter. The second line switches from trochaic to iambic and back to trochaic again at the very end. The last alternates as well.

If Shakespeare were alive today he would have most certainly edited one of his most famous lines from Hamlet “to be or not to be? That is the question”. He would change his work today to read,

“To be or not to be? That is the question and the answer can be found at WikiAnswers.”

That’s a line I can stand up and cheer for.

Yours truly,

Jim is seeking answers.

Everyone was talking about it yesterday, and everyone had a different take -

NYTimes: Revamps Search Engine

eWeek: Sails into Semantic Search to Differentiate from Google

Mashable: Now Actually Delivers Answers

Search Engine Land: Goes Back To 1996 With New Release

AdAge: Returns to Answers

Well, however it’s reported, the point is that the Q&A trend is growing strong.‘s new search bar boasts options like ‘web’, ‘images’, ‘news’ and… ‘lots of answers’. The Q&A search option seems to have the safety net of the Beta tag, but the truth is I think it works out pretty well. It takes your search term and scans the major Q&A sites for relevant pages.

Look up Chicago Cubs, for instance, and you get a wonderful selection from one major Q&A site that I happen to be particularly fond of… Even if it’s not a baseball team I care for.

Get WikiAnswers in your language

Google has added 11 new languages to its translation tool, so now, with a little G-help, we can get answers in even more languages.

Redeeming the cow

Consider the cow of Mrs. O’Leary, famous for starting the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by kicking over a lantern and setting her barn – and one third of the city – ablaze. That rumor was put to rest in English long ago, but what of the cow’s reputation in, say, Tagalog? Ito ay tunay na Mrs Oleary ng baka na nagsimula ang Chicago Fire? WikiAnswers rises bravely to the occasion:

Ang isang peminista Dyaryo na tinatawag na “Ang Rebolusyon” na nakasulat sa ilang sandali lamang matapos ang Chicago Fire of 1871, basahin ang mga sumusunod: “Mrs Leary denies na ang kanyang baka kicked sa paglipas ng ilaw na set ng apoy sa dayami na masunog ang kwadra na sanhi ng pagkawasak ng kalahati ng Chicago. Alin ang nai-render sa pamamagitan ng lubha maaaring mangyari ang mga kilalang katotohanan na Chicago cows hindi sipa, at Chicago gas ay isang non-sunugin likido, at Chicago hay ay natipon mula sa marshes at sa gayon ay puspos na may asin na ito ay hindi matupok, at na Mrs Leary’s kubol ay binuo ng sunog-patunay na materyales, at ang pagkasira ng Chicago ay sa parusa ng kasalanan, at, saka, ay isang magandang grasya na para sa mga taong hindi masunog out ay lubha tumatanaw ng utang na loob. Ang baka ay dapat exonerated.”

Bean sprouters of the world, unite!

Many folks like to grow beans, but one could say that some foreign-language speakers have been at a disadvantage because of the dearth of bean-sprouting methods in languages other than English. At last, translations are as easy to come by as peas in a pod. Here is how to grow green beans in Catalan:

En primer lloc fins al lloc on plantar.
Quan estigui llest per posar la seva planta dels fesols en remull amb aigua durant uns 15 a 30 minuts per suavitzar l’exterior perquè sigui més fàcil per al fesol de brollar.
Fer una rasa en el sòl no més d’una polzada de profunditat i, a continuació, posar el fesol a la trinxera amb voltant d’un 6-polzades d’espai entre ells.
Després, cobrir lleugerament el fesol, no el paquet de sòl.
Lleugerament l’aigua cada dos dies i en una setmana et comencen a veure els brots a través d’Chasque.

Being entertained by translation

Some cool alphabets debuted, too, with Hebrew and Serbian. It seems, though, that the more a language differs structurally from English, the more twisted its translation on Google Translate. I can’t speak for all the languages, but at least a few are guaranteed to make you laugh. For example, in Hebrew, Google translates “dough” into “money” when talking about donut batter. Here are some translated answers to Why do donuts have holes? (Note: Some of these character sets may not display properly if your computer doesn’t support these languages. Just skip down to the next section.)

In Hebrew:

אחת הסיבות לכך היא לאפשר את הכסף כדי לבשל באופן שווה. בלי חור בסופו של דבר גם עם כדור כי הוא חסר נסיון במרכז או מבושל יותר מדי כלפי חוץ.Hansen תמיד לקח קרדיט על החור של סופגניה. סופגניה כמה היסטוריונים חושב שזה היה קצת Hansen של קמצן והיה רק מנסה לשמור על עלויות המזון. אחר אומר כי הוא נתן את סופגניה כאשר החור הראשון שלה, באמצע של סערה ואת נורא על מנת לקבל את שתי הידיים על ההגה ספינות, הוא crammed אחת האמהות שלו מטוגן תחושות עלה אחד של wooded spokes של הגלגל. עוד סיפור טוען כי הוא החליט, לאחר ביקור ממלאך, כי מרכז בצקי העוגות של פריד היה צריך ללכת.

In Serbian:

Један од разлога је допустити да се тијесто равномјерно кувате. Без рупа сте завршили са или лопта да је сировом у средини или прекухано на ван.Хансен увек узме кредит за рупу у уштипак. Неки повјесничари мисле да је крафна Хансен је мало од цхеапскате и био је само покушавате сачувати на трошкове хране. Други кажу да он даде свој први крафна рупа када, у средини страшна олуја и како би добили обе руке на бродовима точкова, он Цраммед један од његових мајки пржена сензација на једном од спокес у шумовитим звијерка. Још једна бајка тврди да је одлучио, након посете од Анђела, да је гњецав центра у пржени колача морали ићи.

In Vietnamese:

Là một lý do gì để cho phép các bột để nấu ăn như nhau. Mà không có một lỗ cuối cùng với bạn hoặc là một quả cầu đó là nguyên ở giữa hoặc overcooked trên bên ngoài.Hansen luôn luôn lấy tín dụng cho các lỗ trong doughnut. Một số doughnut historians nghĩ rằng Hansen là một chút của một cheapskate và đã được chỉ cần cố gắng để tiết kiệm chi phí thức ăn. Những ngườikhác nói rằng ông đã cho các doughnut đầu tiên, khi lỗ, ở giữa đáng sợ của một cơn bão và để có được cả hai tay trên tàu thủy, bánh xe, ông crammed một trong số các bà mẹ chiên cảm giác của mình lên một trong những wooded spokes của bánh xe. Tuy nhiên, một tale khiếu nại rằng ông quyết định, sau khi một truy cập từ một thiên sứ, doughy rằng các trung tâm của các chiên bánh đã phải đi.

How it’s done

Well now, I can’t tell you what I don’t know. But if you want more than cows, beans and donuts, I can showyou two ways to get your own translations from Google Translate.

  1. Translate text: Copy some text you want translated. Go to Google Translate and paste the text into the “Translate Text” section. Using the language buttons underneath, pick a language to translate from (that’s the original language of the text you copied) and a language to translate to, and click Translate. The translation will appear, magically and almost immediately, on the right.
  2. Translate a whole web site: Find a web site you want translated (perhaps a news site, where you can’t understand the headlines or the email settings). Copy the address of the web site from the address bar of your browser. Go to Google Translate and paste the address into the “Translate a Web Page” section, pick your languages, and click Translate. Voila! The site will appear in the language of your choice.

Site translation (option #2) is currently way more exciting. Everything on the page, from “Log In” to “About us” to “Lost Password” – and all the content in between – gets translated. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to edit the translation and make it better for generations to come (sometimes, though, this feature doesn’t work). To try it, hover your mouse over some mis-translated text. If the text turns blue, it’s editable and a popup should appear with the original language so you can see where the mistakes were made.

Be prepared for sites you translate to lose some functionality and design integrity (i.e. they might stop working properly and look really bad). If you need something translated but also need to keep working on a site, it may be better to use straight text translation (option #1).

Happy translating!

Google Translate

What’s the average speed of a dugout canoe on Lake Malawi?

Hey there! How’s it going? Feel like learning about speeds of dugout canoes on Lake Malawi today from Jim? I knew you did!

What’s the average speed of a dugout canoe on Lake Malawi?

As many of you know, I was in Africa for several months this year including several weeks in Malawi, almost all of which were spent on the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi. Almost immediately upon arrival I was intrigued by the very question asked by a clearly intelligent WikiAnswers participant, as noted above. Immediately I began to devise experiments to determine the average speed of the canoes.

I thought the best way to discover the answer to this perplexing riddle was to be in the water itself next to the canoes. However, almost from the beginning things began to go horribly wrong. Unknowingly, I swam into the sacred nesting grounds of a group of hippos. Hippos don’t eat meat, but they will crush you to death if they feel threatened and are responsible for more human deaths in Africa than lions, tigers, polar bears, penguins, bald eagles, and raccoons combined!

Before I knew what was happening, I was fighting off a pack of hippos armed with waterproof guns and huge powerful jaws that kill a man with one bite. Fortunately, I made it past the few hippos, but soon thereafter I encountered my next challenge: overly chlorinated water.

My eyes began to burn like the fires of a fiery-hot hell. Someone thought it would be a good idea to try to chlorinate this part of Lake Malawi and accidentally spilled 2 million metric tons of chlorine into this one part of the lake. Ironically, this accident is what led me to solve the great riddle of the dugout canoe speed. Seeing that I was in excruciating pain, a fisherman paddled over to me and put me in his canoe. He paddled me back to shore and took me to the local clinic for treatment. On the way I asked him what the average speed of a dugout canoe was and he kindly responded: ten kilometers per hour.

I want to wish our Jewish readers out there a happy new year and to all my friends in Malawi and the rest of you, have a great October.

Yours truly,