Aardvark is a service that allows you to ask a question to the community... and it will send that question to someone who is available and might know the answer (based on categories that its members sign up for) and then typically provides you an answer within 5 minutes by one of these other community members. They have a nice little iPhone app that makes asking these questions pretty easy wherever you are.
I tried out the service for a little while... but I never actually asked it a question... though I was able to provide answers to a few.
While some of the questions I saw were really legitimate things you'd need to ask in order to find an answer... MANY of them just pointed to a bigger question...
Are We Really This Lazy?
I knew there was something wrong when most of the questions I didn't have answers to I knew I could find with a quick Google search... and I did. I found that I could answer quite a few of the questions with a simple Google search (though in my frustration with these "lazy" people I didn't answer the questions for them, yes cuz I'm a jerk). Other questions, like "is anyone hiring in Chicago, IL?" or "what is your favorite song this year?" seem to be out of place on the site... which left less than half that I thought needed to be legitimately answered on Aardvark by someone else (some questions asked for specific recommendations for products and services... and these seemed totally useful to me if you're the type of person who doesn't LOVE research like I do).
The people asking these questions are already online, obviously know how to use the internet... and have enough time that they can log on to the site and ask the question and wait 5 minutes or so for an answer... so couldn't they just Google it?
I have been using the internet since 1995... and I'm fairly geeky. I've Googled (yes I've been using it as a verb forever) things thousands of times... and perhaps I've gotten a lot of practice. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a true master of something... and I wonder how many hours I've spent searching for things on the internet... but I really don't feel that my Google skills are so much more powerful than the average internet user. Still, these questions are being asked on a forum
I can't remember, however, the last time I had a question that I couldn't answer with a Google search. Obviously there are types of questions that can't be fully answered with facts... but I'm talking about questions that have simple, factual answers.
We Are To Blame
I am definitely not blaming Aardvark for this problem. I think their service is really great... and I haven't spent THAT much time on it so I have probably not been exposed to the many great questions that probably exist on the site. My frustration is more with people in general. The truth is that I've felt just as frustrated with people on forums and other places where these questions typically surface... I just never really voiced it until now.
I do think services like Aardvark and specific forums like the new videoWTF are awesome places to learn from others and get questions answered for things that aren't so commonly documented online... and there are a lot of those things when it comes to really specific industry or trade related questions (I've answered some tough questions on videowtf.com)... but I get really annoyed when I log into Aardvark and see someone asking "what's the capital of Alaska?".
Or am I wrong?