Who's better: Google or CU librarians? Search me

geckomlis spotted This One From Ithaca on a recent study done by Cornell University's Instruction, Research, and Information Services (IRIS) that pitted Cornell librarians against freelance researchers at Google Answers -- a fee-based system, where more than 800 freelancers answer questions for a minimum of $2.50. The company claims to be able to provide answers within 24 hours.

In the study, 24 questions --ranging from the population of Afghanistan (about 26 million) to where Geoffrey Chaucer died (London) -- were given to library research staff and to Google Answers. Responses were scored by university librarians on a blind basis. The librarians looked at the accuracy and clarity of the answers given, and the validity of sources cited in answers. Cornell's researchers scored just slightly better than Google's in the study.


I had thought about doing the Google Answers thing, but since I never found the time to fill out the application questions, I figured I would be too busy to answer the real questions. And then I got to thinking - why should Google make money off of something that librarians have been giving away for free?

I wonder if some of the people answering Google
questions were in fact librarians - it would seem to be
a natural way to pick up a few bucks moonlighting.
After all, if the same area is already one's day
job, and one has developed the skills to do these
sorts of answers quickly and promptly,
doing it for pay strikes me as a very logical
bit of "overtime".

Hmm... there's a kind of privatization vs.
public services issue here too.

It might be interesting to know about the best
people responding to Google answers.

Jessamnynlibrarian.net> was a Google Answerer for a short while. I assume she wasn't the only librarian working for them.