Idea #6: Ask questions on Yahoo! Answers using pictures


As a Yahoo! Answers (Y!A)user, I have been able to help people with over 200 questions, and others have done the same for me. However, I’ve both seen questions that are hard to understand and struggled to make my questions sound intelligible to readers. This difficulty in understanding inquiries makes the entire process of asking and answering questions inefficient, especially for the asker when s/he knows that his/her question is poorly worded.

The Concept:

Make it easier to understand questions by linking to a picture of the concept being asked about. This process is not very difficult to do, as Y!A requires a general Yahoo! account , which provides access to Flickr.  A user with a question can take a screenshot of his/her computer, photograph a broken object or a drawing of some process, etc. Then, s/he just uploads it to Flickr and asks a question, linking to the picture. Answerers don’t have to waste time deciphering paragraphs that describe what the problem is.

The Pros:

  • Integration with Flickr makes this a convenient process.
  • If it takes off, Yahoo! could easily add an “upload picture” button in the ask page, skipping Flickr entirely.
  • This concept can be just as useful for people who try to answer questions.
  • For visual or auditory thinkers, a picture’s worth a thousand words. An image or a sound clip with a short description can be a much easier way to express thoughts and questions.

In addition to these benefits, here are links to some of the questions and answers that could be helped by this process.

Math problems, like How would you graph 2x+y=4?

Medical questions, like Toes swelling from broken leg cast?

Repair-related questions and answers, like please help! windows media player problem!?

For users with questions that involve mathematic equations, linking to Wolfram|Alpha may help. ((3^x)+52)-(9*(x^3)) becomes its simpler-looking form, giving answerers an easier time deciphering that.

The Cons:

  • This can be a tedious process. Some people don’t want to take the effort to hook up their cameras, upload media, send the pictures to the cloud, find the URL, copy and paste it, doublecheck it, and so on, especially if there’s a risk that their questions might not even get answered.
  • Linking to something uploaded on your Flickr account means strangers are one step away from your personal pictures. This could get inconvenient for privacy zealots.

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