While doing this internship with Greenanswers.com, I’ve come across many, many questions that I find to be quite ridiculous. Sometimes, it made me wonder what kinds of people are posting questions on this website, and if they ever received any basic understanding of science from their schooling. I don’t mean to be offensive by saying this, but it just boggles my mind that there is a huge number of these types of questions being posted on the website.
Disclaimer: I don’t have anything against the actual website, but the types of questions that populate it. I think that the greenanswers.com people are trying to do a great thing and I’m glad that a site like this exists. I had a great experience working with them and often enjoyed answering questions. I look forward to the future development of the site and will go back to check it out often.
Of the ridiculous questions, here are some of my all-time favorites (mostly from the past two weeks):
• If nature is so smart, why can’t it take care of global warming?
• Why does it get so dark at night?
• What is the best meal for the environment? Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
• Has there ever been proof of dragons? (This was posted under the Mammals section.)
• Are pancakes greener than waffles?
• Self powering energy, is it possible?
• What is the difference between a sun and a moon?
• What is the crop that is essential to human life?
• How long does the West Coast last?
• How are we going to get poor nations to make green changes to their way of life?
• Why don’t more people view soil as a non-renewable resources? Is it because they are dirty?
• From the environmental perspective, is there any need for the United States Postal Service?
• Does a tree scream?
• Is grass the ultimate survivor?
The main issues that I have with these questions are that
1. They are focusing too much on specific details, interactions, or products, and not the larger picture of how things are getting done or being made. They often ask you to pick one choice or another, when in reality the issue is not that clear-cut, black and white.
2. Wording (and poor grammar) – This is easily overcome if I can get the general sense for what the asker meant when they wrote the question. Sometimes I have typos too, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
3. Questions that are baiting a certain answer. One example (though maybe not the best example), “Are homeopathic, or natural, remedies better for the environment than “industrial” or “modern” medicine?”
(I’m not sure if people are being told to post questions, or if greenanswers.com people are also posting answers, but sometimes this possibility crosses my mind. Also, “guests” post many of the longer questions.)
4. Sometimes people just don’t know things that I might think should be part of basic knowledge. Maybe I am expecting too much from the general population, but isn’t this what the education system is for?
5. Some questions are plain silly. You would never need to know how many chicken eggs are the equivalent of an ostrich egg
6. And finally, some questions just don’t make any sense at all.
Some questions might fall under more than one of these categories, but all in all these are the types of questions that bothered me when I go through the website looking for questions to answer.
For a few weeks, I tried very hard to answer questions well and put a lot of effort into it. I had a goal to reach the #1 spot for reputation among the members. These last two weeks, I have totally given up that goal, after having reached #1 on two occasions, because I lost motivation to overachieve.
That said, I think the 8 weeks I spent answering questions was a generally good experience. I’m not sure how much time I would be willing to devote to answering questions from now on, but I think it has a lot of potential as a resource and can be a useful tool.
Several weeks ago I posted some of my favorite questions that I answered. Here are some more questions that I find interesting:
- Does fermentation play a role in the natural world?
- Is Al Gore a hypocrite for owning a mansion while claiming climate change is an urgent problem?
(My note: Same issue in general for all environmental celebrities, could be another post topic!)
- Define the “green” movement in 2 or less sentences.
- How can I make sure my bike will go to someone that will use it?