Release update: Snippets, search tools and more

alien invasionYou may have noticed some extra activity in the WikiAnswers search box… or tiny badges on your bio page. Not to mention little snippets of text here and there.

No, aliens have not taken over WikiAnswers (this time). We’ve rolled out a couple of great new features that we hope will make asking, answering and searching a more pleasant and effective experience for you. Our goal with these features is to bring information more directly to you so you don’t have to search for it – and we hope you’ll let us know if we’ve achieved that goal. Now, without further ado, an overview of said features:

FAYT (Find As You Type)

Asking a question? Looking up a person, place or thing? No problem – before you’ve even finished typing, we’ll show you if there’s a matching reference article – or if someone in the community has answered your question.

Just click the “All” radio button and start typing. Reference articles are prefaced by a book icon (book), and community Q&A are prefaced by a bubble icon (bubble). Or, choose just “Community Q&A” or “Reference Topics” to limit your search to one type of information. Our suggestions will appear in a list – click an item on the list, or hide the list if you’d rather not see it. (But we think it’s pretty helpful.)

Try looking up “Why is the sky blue?” The find-as-you-type results look like this:

Find as you type

Snippets

Snippets are a short previews of current answers. By looking at snippets, you can get a sense of the answer before you click through to see the question page and question history. Snippets showed previously on the search results page, and now we’ve added them to the recent site activity pages and the category pages. If you’re watching for vandalism, you can now comb the snippets for spam and other bad answers without opening each question.

This is what snippets look like on the recent site activity page:

Snippets

And on the category page:

More snippets

Snippets are also a convenient way to determine on the spot if a question is answered or unanswered. No snippet? It’s unanswered.

Stats box redesign

Stats box

Stats box tools

Do you like peeking at other contributors’ contribution stats (or your own)? We’ve tweaked the design to make it even easier to see who they are and what they’ve done.

Visit anyone’s bio page and hover over a mini-badge to see the full badge in all its glory. Also, if you’re a Supervisor, look for a brand-new toolbox at the bottom of the stats box.

Batch revert… turbo style

And, finally, a power tool for Supervisors: turbo Batch Revert, so you can undo weeks of vandalism in just one click. We have lifted the one-week limit on reverts, so go do your thing and catch those vandals!

Survey says?

Check out these tools and tell us what you think. They’ve been a long time coming, and we hope you enjoy them!

He IS Quirkyquantummechanic!

win-answerofyear-co

There’s a little bit of quirkiness in all of us – you know; some little oddity that makes each of us, who we are – our little quirks. But how many people have the unique distinction of proclaiming that they’re not only quirky, but Quirkyquantummechanic? We know of only one! And lucky for us, he happens to be an out-of-this-world WikiAnswers.com contributor and Supervisor. You might know him as Quirky, The Mechanic or even QQM. All other names aside, he will forever be the Quirkyquantummechanic -an enigma in his own right.

Here’s more from the legend himself:

How do you participate on WikiAnswers.com?

In case you’ve wondered, my user name is derived from frustration attempting to find one that wasn’t in use already. I’m a Floating Supervisor here on WikiAnswers.com, and have been one for a bit over a year. I’ve opted to avoid a specific Category because I then have the freedom to rove the length and breadth of the Community to answer and edit questions. (One other Supervisor suggested I might be a bit of a Ranger at heart, and his insight is probably dead on target.) I’m not involved in any other activities (save Mentoring) directly, like the WikiGuides, Vandal Patrol, WIT, Bug Catchers or the like. But when I encounter a vandal or bug, I usually act to help get things back on track. I’m certainly always ready to help a Contributor by answering questions or advising on issues as regards WikiAnswers. And I can’t imagine any Supervisor who is not.

Please share some random facts about yourself, special thoughts, etc.

Though I am “petless” at present, I am a critter person deep down. I’ve had dogs, cats and many other pets all my life. The neighbor’s cat, the beast that leaves white hair on almost everything I wear, can attest to the fact that I’m critter friendly. She probably spends as much time here as there. I’m familiar with the outdoors, having been raised in Colorado. It could be said that I grew up in the hills and mountains as my family camped or hunted often. This makes me comfortable in wilderness settings and the out of doors in general. I am a vet from the Viet Nam era, and served on nuclear submarines.

What is your key area of knowledge or expertise?

My work here, which is largely in the Science area, speaks to my technocratic nature. I’ve always worked in a technical capacity, often in electronics engineering. I’m deeply interested in what makes the universe work, and I often read through articles and posts to “keep up” with the advancements in science. I’m a lifelong learner, and believe everyone should be. In contrast to my scientific bent, I’m a believer in a higher power I call God. (Read anything you like into that-or not.) There is no conflict in my belief system and my understanding of the way the world works, and my posts in Science and in Creation suggest this.

What do you like to do for recreation?

As a resident of the left coast, I’ve come to like the scenery as well as the weather. Soccer is big here, and I’ve played, coached, and officiated soccer matches aplenty. I’ve been “off” for a while, and I need to get back out and referee a bit before I forget how. (With games numbering in four digits under my belt, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch, should it?) The game, the officiating, affords me the opportunity to give back to the sport that my two children (who are grown) and I enjoyed so much. And giving back is why I’m here on WikiAnswers.com. I had superb teachers, coaches and mentors growing up, and even on the job as a “working adult” in the real world. What I know and share here is as much a tribute to and a way of honoring their efforts as anything else.

What brought you to WikiAnswers.com?

I originally came to WikiAnswers.com when searching for something technical. It was electronic in nature, and, though I cannot recall specifically what it was, I found an answer here that pointed me in the right direction. That answer was not quite what it “might be” as it was posted, and I created an account and edited it. My memory had been refreshed, and I shared my understanding (and appreciation) with the Community in the form of the edit. I was hooked. Since then I’ve applied my knowledge and my modest writing skills to making the site a better one. A few awards and badges on my Bio Page speak to the small successes I’ve had and accomplishments I’ve made here. I appreciate the recognition, but perhaps not as much as I treasure the compliments of peers. But anyone who knows me from notes and posts knows I’m not here for awards or Recommends. I’m here to help by sharing what little I know while expanding my own knowledge.

In post after post I attempt to turn on the lights and roll back ignorance-including my own. In sharing knowledge, I find that there is a lot of incorrect information floating around. When we post to enlighten and correct less-than-current knowledge, it is important for us to present what is “correct” and “true” as best we understand it. That includes admitting what we don’t know, too. Does that sound like teaching? We sometimes hear that you never really know a subject until you teach it. I’ve taught it, and there is more than a kernel of truth in that axiom. I’ve written lots of labs and outlines and such, and it is probably through those activities that I was able to hone my English skills. More than a couple of individuals have complimented me on my ability to write. I’ve done a bit of creative writing (though I don’t want publication), and that and the teaching have allowed me to make the best of the language skills I gathered in school (again, with the help of good teachers and professors).

What is your favorite WikiAnswers.com activity?

What I like here most is answering and editing questions, particularly in the Science category. I also do a lot of Recategorization, which is important. Certainly I’m willing to help others improve their abilities to make the Boards better, and as a Mentor, I can share what I’ve learned with new Supervisors. I report bugs and get involved in efforts to curb vandalism, and I’m more than ready to do that and any other tasks that need doing. But I have limited my involvement in “other things” here to do what I seem best at, which is answering and editing questions in Science. Certainly I’m not “too good” to take on other chores; I clean around the house because I’m best at it. But here I tend to cruise Science and hammer the Q&A there because I like it, and because of all the things I can do to help, my skills are probably a “best fit” there.

What keeps you coming back to WikiAnswers.com?

WikiAnswers isn’t about me. It never has been. It’s about you. At this point I’d like to share my gratitude. I’d like nothing more than to thank the other Supervisors here for their support. You are uniformly bright, powerful and empowering individuals, and I care about you more than my simple ability to express it. And a big thanks to the Community Advisers and those working behind the scenes to improve and expand WikiAnswers, too. We almost never hear about all the ground you cover in your assignments. My hat is off to you all. Lastly, I’d like to thank the Contributors here. And not because the Contributors are least important. Quite the contrary. It is the Contributor that makes the Community what it is. And we are all, in the end, Contributors, are we not? That’s why I’m here.

May you all find your true path, and the courage and strength to walk it. See you on the Boards.

the Mechanic

DavidCary and his Wiki Haikus

haiku in JapaneseSo what exactly is a haiku? I’m glad you asked! According to the American Heritage dictionary on Answers.com it can be defined as “a Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.”

Learn more about the haiku and its history in our new category of Haiku Q&A on WikiAnswers.com!

WikiAnswers supervisor DavidCary was kind enough to share some wiki-oriented haikus he authored on June 10th in our Poetry Corner this week. Read them below…

A beautiful page.
A vandal scribbles on it.
Undo. Beautiful.

First post not perfect.
Slow improvement is OK.
Some day — convergence.

Keep out the vandals.
That sounds good, but better to:
Let in helpful ones.

So many questions.
Some of them are life-changing.
Others not so much.

Wiggles and Waggles – Communicating by Dance

Interpersonal communication is defined as the interactions between individuals and the interpretations of these actions. This can mean anything from the way you glance at a person to the strength of the grip you exert in a handshake. Your messages can even be determined by the tone in your voice or the amount of sweat you produce. But of all the ways to communicate, which sensory perception is the most effective?

beesAccording to Apoidae, the family commonly referred to as bees, dance seems to be the preferred form of communication. Scientifically speaking, bees have highly evolved adaptations, so this doesn’t seem to make too much sense.  First of all, bees have specialized vision that allows them to see beyond the human spectrum of light. Humans can see visible light from 380nm-750nm, while bees are able to see the spectrum from 300nm-600nm, an area of florescence 80nm wider than human capability. In addition, while we base our ‘trichromatic’ color combinations on red, blue, and green, bees base their colors on UV, blue, and green a much richer type of light.

Next, bees have one of the most complex chemical communication systems found in all of  nature, possessing 15 known glands that produce a wide range of pheromones (chemical messengers). If that wasn’t enough, bees can project an impressive sound.  A bee’s wings beat 11,400 times per minute (180 beats a second) causing that famous ‘buzz’ sound we know so well. So why do bees choose dance as a means to transmit their most important information? Based on a ‘waggle’ alone, bees divulge the precise location of their precious pollen and nectar- the sustenance of their hive.

How do bees even learn to dance?” Asks a WA user.

Answer: A bee’s “dance” is an instinct. They are born knowing how to do it. The “dance” communicates to other bees, showing them the way to fly in order to find the flowers that the other bee has found. The queen is not the one dancing, because she is busy laying eggs. The drone bees are the ones who fly out looking for pollen, and who “dance.” The angle between the direction the “dancing” bee is facing while vibrating its abdomen and the vertical position equals the direction to the new nectar source from the hive with respect to the sun. The duration of the waggle also gives the distance. Bees are aware of the movement of the sun during the day, so can compensate for this when using it for navigation.

Now where does that leave us? Have you ever misinterpreted a stare, or felt that the pat on the back from your boss was positive or perhaps inappropriate or maybe it was demeaning? How effective is human Couple Dancingcommunication compared to a bees instinctual dancing? Is dancing more successful at conveying messages than touching or visual and auditory cues? Perhaps it would be better if we just stood in front of an audience and wiggled a bit from a distance while others interpreted what we were trying to say? (Simon Cowell seems to have a good time doing this). Well, I think we can find our answer to this question by looking to Wikianswers. “Why do people Dance?”

Answer: Dance is the only socially sanctioned physical contact between unmarried couples, the only way to interact with the opposite sex in an intimate, politically correct way.

So there you have it – Humans dance for the potential to meet love. Afterall,  Isn’t love as sweet as nectar?

Extra! Extra! Read All About JoyceP!

Supervisor and mentor JoyceP has made the community proud by being featured in her local newspaper, The Franklin Sun, after taking home two WAmmy Awards this past January.  Joyce introduced thousands of readers to WikiAnswers.com in her interview.

Joyce garnered “Best Advice Answer” for “What steps can an abused woman take to protect herself and children?” and tied to win “Answer of the Year” for “What precautions should be taken before a hurricane hits?”.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Winnsboro resident Joyce Parker is making a name for herself on the World Wide Web as an award-winning contributor for the fastest growing Q & A site on the Internet. WikiAnswers.com provides answers to visitor queries that cover a range of 4,700 topics. The site offers contributors, supervisors and mentors from all over the world, and yes, even Winnsboro.

Parker joined the Wiki family in 2008 where she was quickly promoted to Louisiana supervisor, one of only two in the state. In 2009, she received two WAmmy Awards for Best Answer of the Year and Best Advice Answer of the Year.

The answer Parker submitted for Best Answer of the year was to the question: “What precautions should be taken before a hurricane hits?” and “What steps can an abused women take to protect herself and her children?” received the Best Advice Answer of the Year.

“I feel the information I gave in those answers can help countless people, not just here in our local parishes, or just in the state of Louisiana,” said Parker, “but all across the country. I would like to get the information to as many people as possible.”

Way to go Joyce!

Follow us!

Hey, all you Twitter fans out there! @WikiAnswers has been a staple of our Twitter escapades and now Answers.com is getting on the Twitter bandwagon. Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey, look out. We’ll be sending interesting bits of information to you, one tweet at a time. We’ll feature birthdays, historical events, words and other interesting facts that you may not have known about. You’ll be able to bring up these little morsels at your coffee break and look even smarter than you already are. Follow us at @AnswersDotCom. Tweet on!

Have You Heard?

Feeling like you are having a 21st Century Breakdown? Can’t Get No Satisfaction? Are you having a Bad Day? You can try to Blame It on the Hound Dog, but that would just be Ironic. Wipe off that Poker Face and look at your Reflection in the mirror so that you can see The Way You Look Tonight. There’s no need to feel like a Refugee.

The Saga Begins. Answers.com has added Lyrics from Gracenote. In case you’re thinking “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” it should. You can now find lyrics from all your favorite artists, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Beyonce, ABBA, Britney Spears and Weird Al Yankovic.

Release your inner Dancing Queen. It’s time to Breakaway. It’s a Beautiful Day! Try Walking on Sunshine and just Soak Up the Sun. Trust me, once you start searching through these lyrics, you’ll find that they are a Hard Habit to Break. Take These Words to heart, they’re no 30,000 Pounds of Bananas.

Bye Bye Bye.