Choosing a question to answer

How do researchers choose which Google Answers questions they wish to answer?

Obviously, one major factor is to consider the price set by the customer, weighed against the expected time to find the answer. Another factor to consider is how interesting the research process will be, or how satisfying the answer will be. A further factor is whether the subject is one with which the researcher is already familiar.

For me, there’s one criterion that is more important than all the others. Perhaps surprisingly, the difficulty of the question is not the main issue. The main criterion is this: when I have found the answer, am I confident that the asker will find the answer acceptable?

If I can’t be confident that my answer will be acceptable, it opens the door to all kinds of disappointments: an answer that the asker would rather not be told, or an answer to a different question from the one that the asker really had in mind, or an answer that’s correct but at quite the wrong level. Occasionally the customer doesn’t even want an answer but wants a dialogue.

Sometimes these situations can be repaired using the clarification process, but sometimes it just isn’t possible to provide an alternative answer that satisfies.

So, if anyone reading this is considering asking a question, please make it crystal-clear what kind of answer would satisfy you!

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