START Conference Manager    

ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012

"How Much Change Do You Get from 40$?"
Analyzing and Addressing Failed Questions on Social Q&A Management

Chirag Shah, Marie Radford, Lynn Connaway, Erik Choi and Vanessa Kitzie

Sunday, 3:30pm


Online question-answering (Q&A) services are becoming increasingly popular among information seekers. While Q&A services encompass both virtual reference service (VRS) and social Q&A (SQA) it is the SQA services such as Yahoo! Answers and WikiAnswers that have the ability initially to reach out to the masses and then leverage subsequent participation. However, the large volume of content on some of the more popular SQA sites renders participants unable to answer the posted questions adequately or even at all. To ameliorate this latter category of questions that do not receive an answer, the current paper explores reasons for why fact-based questions fail on a specific Q&A service. For this exploration and analyses, thousands of failed questions were collected from Yahoo! Answers, extracting only those that were fact-based, information-seeking questions, while opinion/advice-seeking questions were discarded. A typology was then created to code reasons of failures for these questions using a grounded theory approach. Using this typology, suggestions are proposed for how the questions could be restructured or redirected to another Q&A service (possibly a VRS), so users would have a better chance of receiving an answer.