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osakarob's avatar

Why do people answer questions in areas which they have no expertise?

Asked by osakarob (1304points) March 31st, 2008

I see so many responses on fluther that begin with phrases like “I guess it’s because” or “I suppose…” or “I don’t know but, ”. Why on earth would anyone comment on areas in which they have no knowledge or expertise?

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19 Answers

samkusnetz's avatar

i couldn’t say. this is not my area of expertise.

Riser's avatar

The need to be heard eclipses accuracy. What prompted you to ask this question? Please don’t take that as insulting, it isn’t intended to be. At the same time, what prompted me to answer it?

lovelyy's avatar

I GUESS IT’S BECAUSE they want to help get you the answer anyway they can.

judochop's avatar

I don’t know but…Maybe it’s because they have a good idea. Just a guess though.

I guess I can see where this would be frustrating but the simple fact of the matter for any tech question or question with a deff answer is that you are already on the web, you can do a simple search and find your answer so really, why even ask questions in here unless you are not after an array of answers?

DeezerQueue's avatar

Often the question leads to unexacting answers. There are questions asked that relate to experiences or insights, that people can have without being experts on a subject. Human behavior is as diverse as humans themselves.

How bothered are you by it?

bluemukaki's avatar

Sorry, I don’t know the answer. Ask a qualified phycologist.

osakarob's avatar

Honestly, I wasn’t trying to sound like a crank. When I joined fluther, one of the things that attracted me to it was the fact that I could read other questions and very often learn things from individuals who were specialists or experts in particular areas.

I recognize that many people use it to elicit opinions and advice on things which have no precise answer. I generally tend to avoid reading a lot of those.

My frustration seems to be with questions which have clearly definable answers but are responded to by people who don’t know for sure or lack the expertise to answer with any credibility. Is that wrong of me? Did I misunderstand the mission of Fluther?

samkusnetz's avatar

in seriousness: i think riser is on the money. people seem to have a need to be heard which overpowers their ability to stay silent when they have nothing productive to say. the best thing about the internet is that it lets anyone say anything they want. the worst thing about the internet is the very same thing.

i was a very vocal member of from early 2000 for a solid two years before the gigantic number of irritating jokers overwhelmed my ability to continue to connect with the friends i had formed on that site.

if the fluther community is strong, we will create an atmosphere that is fun for us, but no fun for the sort of person who would ruin the site by answering questions carelessly. i don’t really know how to do that except peer pressure, so that’s my personal technique.

bmrumble's avatar

I thought part of Fluther’s intention was to spark conversation. If we only received dead accurate answers to every question, there wouldn’t be much room for discussion. I know this isn’t exactly what you’re referring to, since there are questions with definitive answers (what you’re alluding to here) and questions that are a bit more ambiguous, but I’d be fearful of asking people not to speak up on any issue that they don’t have a full grasp of. It just seems counterproductive in terms of why this site exists versus something like Wikipedia.

What I think is more annoying, though,areanswers that are stated as fact that have no basis in it. Starting answers with “I think it’s because” or “It’s possibly because” is good enough for me. But someone without a clue telling people “This is why” as a statement of fact is pretty irritating.

osakarob's avatar

Samkusnetz and bmrumble thanks for your comments. I guess maybe I didn’t have a clear idea of the mission statement of this site. Perhaps I shouldn’t criticize people who are just trying to have fun. You are right that there are other sites for pure definitive answers.

scamp's avatar

At the top of the page it says:
Tap the collective
You ask a question. We get it to the right people.
Everyone discusses the answer

I’ve learned quite a bit from the discussions here. I like getting different perspectives on subjects. If I am wrong or misinformed about something, the others will teach me something new.

osakarob's avatar

Indeed it does say that.
But doesn’t that slogan suggest a linear progression from the question being asked to an authority in the area ( “the right people”) answering it and then and only then the rest of us with no particular credentials in the matter discussing it?

Anyone can have opinions on anything, especially when the question asked calls for
personal experience or impression. I wouldn’t expect anyone to feel the need to hold back on a submission when the question is something like, “What should I do about my lazy boyfriend?” Most adults have had relationships are can speak with some experience on such matters. But if a writer asks “Why is Vaseline placed on the eyes before surgery”, wouldn’t one assume that it would be better to hold one’s tongue unless one has a medical background or can concretely answer the question? Questions which ask for fact, evidence or proof usually call for some kind of corroboration or credible source, don’t they?

I don’t mean to make a tempest in a teacup.

scamp's avatar

In the question you referred to above, hurleygrlblink seemed to be the only one with absolute knowledge of the subject. So if the others were to hold their tongue as you suggest, I would not have learned that this practice is used in lasik surgery, as johnpowell stated. He had no expertise on the subject, and it was within the discussion section that I was able to learn this new fact.

I don’t think I would enjoy the site as much without the discussion segment. While I do understand your point, I don’t fully agree with it. If we all had the same levels of education and intelligence here, there would be no point to asking anything, would there?

osakarob's avatar

That is true scamp. And I don’t disagree. I used that as an example. However, you will also note the very first response said “I would assume it keeps em from drying out, but ive never heard of such a thing.”

I’m not picking on that respondent or anyone else specifically, but why would one rush to answer a question when by one’s own admission one cannot offer anything but conjecture on the matter?

cwilbur's avatar

Many of the people who are least knowledgeable or competent are also most convinced of their knowledge or ability.

In the words of Bertrand Russell, ‘The problem with the world is that the stupid are so cocksure and the wise so full of doubt.’

Also see – “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”

scamp's avatar

@osakarob Consider the possibility that the respondent is trying to be helpful in some way. Conjecture can spark a thought, and help lead to the correct answer, through discussion, which is what the person you referenced above may have attempted. I don’t think you are picking on anyone. I am ejoying this discussion with you.

@cwilbur The link you posted is an interesting read. I will remember the phrase “wearing the juice”. I think that is something we all do from time to time. I don’t mind admitting ignorance to certain things. If I didn’t, I would stagnate, and not learn anything more.

I don’t mean this next statement to be snippy in any way. I can tolerate a questioning person much easier than one who thinks they know it all. That’s why I don’t mind conjecture on the site as much as some others may.

DeezerQueue's avatar

Now I understand a bit more, and can say that I agree.

Although I wasn’t aware of this at the time that I joined Fluther, there was also an influx of new members due to it being high profiled by Apple and iPhone (I believe, but don’t quote me on this). What that means is that in one fell swoop people encountered a new and shiny app, along with the freedom to use it. Those who run and manage Fluther have also shown concern at times at the progression of the site, although I don’t believe I would go so far as to call it dismay.

The pruning of the collective is something they appear to be actively engaged in, however, there will always be people ready and willing to offer keystrokes that they believe are profitable to the discussion, some of which may or may not relate to the question being asked but derives out of natural tendency to chatter, which is also an element of discussion.

There is of course the hope that people will use the point system to learn how they can better their responses, the ability to discuss, the ability to stay on topic, as answers that are awarded points are generally reflective of those things. Those whose points do not grow very quickly are probably more inclined to ask themselves why their responses aren’t getting pointed or what they can do to make them more point worthy.

osakarob's avatar

OK,....Hehehehe….I’ve been persuaded.
I don’t want to sound like a grouchy old coot. I’ll try to look at the answers a little less literally and more with an eye for how they create the fluther community as a whole.

Thanks everyone for commenting.

talljasperman's avatar

To practice typing skills.

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