The life of a Google Answers question

What happens to a question after it is posted to Google Answers? Here’s a rough idea.

Most of this is wild extrapoliation from my own experience; the rest is based on quick approximate counts from publicly-accessible pages at Google Answers.

  • One person posts the question
  • A few percent of questions are removed by the Google Answers Editors because they contravene the Terms of Service for Google Answers – for example, because they include identifiable personal information
  • A few percent of questions are accidentally posted more than once. Researchers usually post a comment to alert other researchers to the duplicate question
  • Over 600 researchers have been approved by Google to answer the question
  • Around a hundred researchers will read the question title, of whom…
  • Perhaps twenty researchers will read the question body.
  • Half a dozen researchers will lock the question to conduct some preliminary research, of whom
  • Two will research the question in depth, of whom
  • One will ask for clarification, after which
  • There will be an exchange of clarification details of between zero and a dozen or more messages (averaging around three).
  • Finally, for about 50% of clarified questions,
  • One researcher will post an answer.

This will result in:

  • Between zero and a dozen or more request for clarification and clarifications, averaging two or three, plus
  • Between zero and over a thousand comments, mostly from non-researchers.

The question will then:

  • Be rated in about one-third of cases: usually five stars, sometimes four stars, occasionally three stars, rarely two stars and occasionally one star
  • Be tipped in about 25% of cases, usually from $1 to $10 but can be up to $100
  • Be rejected by the customer, or withdrawn by the researcher, in under 5% of cases

Of the unanswered questions:

  • A small number will be closed early, but
  • The vast majority will expire normally.

Of the answered questions:

  • Under five percent will be referenced and linked to from a future question

Does anyone have any other metrics of interest to suggest?

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