I have a new paper up on First Monday. Maybe you should read it, if you’re interested in Q&A sites and the types of things people ask about.
Question types in social Q&A sites
by F. Maxwell Harper, Joseph Weinberg, John Logie, and Joseph A. Konstan
This paper is a collaboration between me and my advisor (HCI researchers) and two cool dudes from the humanities, in the field of writing studies (formerly: rhetoric). As it turns out, computer scientists and rhetoricians tend to think very differently about ways of contributing research to the world! This paper represents an early attempt to fuse some old skool Aristotelian rhetorical theory with some new school data mining.
Really, this paper reflects my personal frustration with much of the literature investigating user behavior on Q&A sites (like Yahoo Answers and Ask Metafilter). Most of the lit conveniently ignores the fact that there are a bunch of different types of questions that people are asking in online forums, and this fundamentally changes how we should view users’ intentions. It is indeed easier to assume that all questions are factual, and that “best answers” go to the best-written and most correct response. But these assumptions will lead to system designs that ignore lots of users.
This paper takes a shot at a more formal taxonomy of question types. I hope you find it useful or interesting.
Photo by matthileo