Week 8: Answer boards and social searching

Social searching
Social searching takes many forms, ranging from the shared bookmarks we considered in our last lesson (eg. Del.icio.us and Digg) or tagging of content with descriptive labels (eg. Flickr), question and answer services, to more sophisticated approaches that combine human intelligence with computer algorithms.
An example would include the Taste website which allows readers to rank recipes and comment on them. Amazon also uses social searching features like “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “Customer Reviews”.

Online brains trusts
Have you ever considered that your library is part of the knowledge market? There are, of course, two aspects of the knowledge market: fee based and free. Both types can also be found online. This lesson focuses on free knowledge markets or web forums also known as answer boards.

Answer boards are websites where an individual can post a question and have it answered by anyone else who visits the forum. Most sites have ways of assessing the quality of the answers usually through a process of peer review or voting.

Some examples of answer boards include: Yahoo!7 Answers and WikiAnswers.

There is a movement of reference librarians who are “slamming the boards” once a month around the world. They aim to provide answers on popular "Answer Board" sites clearly identifying themselves as librarians in the process. This provides an opportunity to highlight the question-answering skills of librarians to the wider community.

Discover: visit the Answer Board Librarians wiki and view the “Exemplary Answers” section. Note how highly the librarians’ responses were rated by members of the community. Also look at the “Signatures and Tag Lines” the librarians use when replying on answer boards.

Explore: Consider is there a role for your library in “slamming the boards”? In what ways might your customers like to rate or review items in the collection or services you offer? Share your thoughts in your blog.

Adventure: Post or answer a question on Yahoo!7 Answers. Use your Yahoo ID from the Flickr activity to log in.

32 comments:

Superchicken 77 said...

Hello, just want to tell you that this is so much fun! Keep releasing those modules!!!

Bunny said...

I agree, am really enjoying doing the modules, and learning so much!

net_goody said...

Will the new modules be available soon?

pls@slnsw said...

We are posting two modules a week, so the next two modules should be available by lunchtime Monday.

Ellen (PLS)

CatyJ said...

I love the AnswerBoards - my monthly does of remote and online referencing!

Jalen said...

I had a go at the Answers International, clicking on countries and discovering that questions are posted in the language of that country. But when I chose China and Japan, the questions did not show up in the proper Chinese and Japanese scripts.

Some of the questions and answers posted in Yahoo! Answers are quite funny! But mostly, the questions are okay and the answers given are really informative and helpful.

Bambino said...

Yes, the online brains trust! Let's get users to trust our brains! I think promoting library services through AnswerBoards is a great idea and keeps us in the public eye.

jenny yan said...

I've posted a comment sometimes ago but couldn't see it. I don't know if I did something wrong or not. I think the younger generation like gen x.y.z would do this a lot - to ask a question on the board and expect to see the answer. Sometimes I do feel web is a game for new generations but not really for the middle age or over. From this point of view the public library can engage young users by engaging ourselves into 'slamming the boards' as such. The ideal scenario would be like that each librarian is given a shift for a one or two hours to slamming the boards. That boards can be either online universally or inside the library.

pls@slnsw said...

Jenny
We have only deleted one comment, and that was a duplicate posted by someone who did not realise that we are moderating comments. Every other comment has been posted. Something strange must have been happening with blogger the day you posted your earlier comment. Please repost it.

Ellen

annieshomework said...

To be honest, I found some of the questions posed an absolute hoot. Seriously though, they were also a reflection of the impersonal nature of the internet, you don't meet and will probably never know who posed the question or why - not like the old Reference Interview at all.

Jay said...

I agree with annieshomework: it is so obvious that "askers" are anonymous, or they might be less inclined to ask some of the more off-the-wall questions!

I'm enjoying the course too.

jenny yan said...

I come back to the previous weeks to see what the others posted as I've finished all my learning a while ago.
When talking about old reference interview I've noticed change in recent years as we seem get less 'real and big reference' inquiries but more quick fix - means people come to the library and ask something but expect you to answer it in a straightaway but no patience for a thorough ref interview. In this regard I think we might need to rethink our reference interview. And slamming boards maybe just one of new channels to deliver information.

tracy24 said...

I've come across answer boards a lot and never really looked at them, but love the idea of an online brains trust. I guess you just need to filter out the rubbish as with all internet sites.

Answered my first question today on Yahoo Answers.

Ross said...

Take a look at the NSW Reference and Information Group Forum; www.nsw-risg.org/forum

This is a community space for NSW library staff to discuss library related issues. A great place to seek advice from your colleagues or share your expertise.
Don't forget to register if you are interested in posting to this forum!

Just Me said...

I found this week a lot easier and thankfully a lot faster.

wiseowl said...

This is my first attempt at leaving a comment so here goes.
This training must be working because I am negotiating them a lot quicker now and with more confidence.
Thank you so much......

Dunny Who? said...

I agree with every-one above that the more we do the easier it is to navigate the learning 2.0 activities.
Best of luck to all!!

RED50 said...

AnswerBoards would be great for those difficult school projects on a general theme but each child in the class has a specific question..and we don't have enough books or time to help them all.

Marg Trundle said...

I too am so enjoy learning.I can see answer board as a great sharing tool between all librarians

a said...

There's so much potential for RA over at the Yahoo board. I wonder if they would consider starting a 'next read' subheading in the 'books and authors' category.

Contessa said...

This program is excellent and fun to do!

I also agree with previous comments about RA and reference work, answer boards have great potential in libraries - it keeps us vital and 'now' with the newer generations.

Corplib said...

Answer boards are a great way for the public to get general feedback or answers to direct questions.

I however feel that libraries should encourage use of local 'ask a librarian' online or in person.

Another opt to keep it local is to set up a site for local business, residents etc to contribute answers, hopefully binging the community closer & show diversity of knowledge.

mannygirl said...

Like RSS feeds, I think Del.icio.us has the potential to be quite addictive and one should be selective. In a Library 'social searching' has a real future in bringing together people with common interests.

mannygirl said...

I've always thought this was a great idea, in theory at least but feel that I am flat out answering our own clients' questions let alone taking on unsolicited questions. An idea that has occurred to me though is that it has potential as a library promotional event. In Library Week, for example, you could bring all the local librarians together in a visible space- public, Tafe, university, special, school and roster them to slam the boards.

Linda said...

I like the slamming the boards idea and think it is a great way to promote librarians.

I had a look at Yahoo Answers and I'm amazed at some of the questions. Really, are some people serious?
But I guess if you want an answer it is one way to get it....

lw3526 said...

I think this is a great way to answer some of thise kooky questions that plague our minds...Also an excellent tool for information...

hippiechick said...

We have a library account to participate in "Slam The Boards" = my turn in August! Went of Yahoo Answers & answered a question - well sort of. The person wanted book reviews, so I forwarded the link to Library Thing entry for the book! No use reinventing the wheel. Have had a look a few times - first time I actually answered anything today.

twinsplusone said...

I think that this is such a wonderful tool. finally a week with no problems

Mobilelibraryman said...

I've come across answer boards a lot and never really looked at them till I came across this module. I now understand how and why they work, and the concept of an online brains trust. Like anything posted on the internet you have to be weary of its accuracy of content.
I'm in to it. Have already answered one question in yahoo 7 answers.

newtechgirl said...

I like the idea of an online brains trust - really puts the 'social' in social media. I would be reluctant to use it myself for any serious purposes but still interesting read.

bloggersbeware said...

what a good way to access info.

supasal said...

I found this module fun and interesting. Brilliant idea, Slam the Boards, a great way to 'put libraries out there'.