AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

Evaluating Health Answers in a Social Q&A Site

Soojung Kim, Sanghee Oh and Jung Sun Oh

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


The purpose of this study is to investigate the criteria people use when evaluating health-related answers in a social Q&A site. A social Q&A site allows people to voluntarily ask and answer questions for one another, but is not limited to a specific topic and the questions/answers are open to non-members for browsing and searching. Using the preliminary framework of users’ best answer selection criteria developed for general topics in a previous study, the current study sees if important selection criteria used for health-related answers are different from ones for other topics. Content analysis of 700 health questions and associated comments on the best answers extracted from Yahoo! Answers produced 397 best answer selection criteria. While, Socio-emotional Value is consistently highly considered in selecting the best answers both in health and across the general topics, the findings unique to the criteria distribution in the health category are: Utility (27%) is remarkably higher in health than across the topics in general (14.8%) and Content Value (8.8%) in health is not considered as important as it is treated in other topics (17.8%). The health information seekers in Yahoo! Answers frequently ask questions about their pain or symptoms and receive suggestions/solutions to relieve the pain or treat the symptoms, considering Utility as a critical criterion in evaluating answers. People come to this site mainly to receive a quick health-related answer from those who have undergone a similar disease/symptom for an immediate problem-solving, but they also appreciate answerers’ emotional support as in general online health communities.

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