Life as a college student or undergraduate has always been hectic and filled with a mountain of homework, assignments, presentations, graduate thesis — you name it. We have to do some online research to find relevant information, facts and news on certain topics in completing our assignments or preparing for presentations. Sometimes, our research comes to a halt when we couldn't find the correct answers to our questions after checking hundreds of useless search results. Good news is that there're a few great websites that are specially devoted to create a place where people can ask and answer questions.
The following websites are the popular Questions and Answers (Q&A) websites that are very resourceful to college students and undergraduates. We can ask questions for free and get high-quality answers sometimes. Some of you might have already discovered the following websites during your online journey. I arrange them using my magic formula — mixture of popularity and usefulness of the Q&A sites.
Yahoo! Answers is currently the most popular Questions and Answers website since Yahoo! has done a very good job in getting prominent figures to ask questions at Yahoo! Answers. For instance, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking asked how can the human race survive the next hundred years; host of the top-rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah Winfrey asked if you were given $1,000 to change the life of a perfect stranger, what would you do; and recently Malaysian film-maker, Yasmin Ahmad asked what can we do to nurture and support aspiring Malaysian film-makers.
Some of the interesting questions and answers under the Education and Reference category are:
- What's one small thing can a person do to prevent pollution?
- How can I lower my stress level while studying for finals?
- What are the advantages of using the internet over visiting a library?
One thing worth to mention about Yahoo! Answers is that there're many local editions of Yahoo! Answers and Malaysia's Answers is one of them. Localized version is very essential to ask questions related to a country as you can expect the answerers are from a particular country, so you will get more relevant and specific answers to your questions.
Though Google Answers is no longer accepting new questions, it was a popular paid Q&A service. Users had to pay a small fee in order to ask a question. The money was split between Google and Google Answers researchers who provide answers to the questions after doing some research. Since it was a paid service, the quality of the answers is relatively high compared to others. You might want to read the archived questions and answers in the Reference, Education and News category.
Ask MetaFilter has a vibrant and loyal community readily to answer your questions as it has been existed since 2003 — the predecessor of Q&A websites. It is actually the subsite of MetaFilter, the community blog pioneer since 1999 and the winner of 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 Bloggies' Best Community Weblog award. You have to pay USD5.00 sign-up fee before you can post questions at Ask MetaFilter. After that, you can post questions for free.
A few questions in the Education category that I like are:
- What effect will have on one that has been caught for plagiarism?
- Does having a job during high school and college affect the quality of education obtained?
- What are the best rules, formulas and tricks in math?
Being one of the CNET Networks sites, Help.com sees a slow growing number of members asking and answering questions. Same as other questions and answers websites, Help.com connects you with experts, leaders, and other like-minded individuals who share your same passion, and it develops these connections into powerful, supportive online communities. Unlike others, a large fraction of questions at Help.com are on homework. In addition, most of them are mathematics related questions. So next time you know where to ask an algebraic question that you cannot solve.
Microsoft's Live QnA is relatively young compared to other Q&A websites. It's still in beta which means the site is yet to be ready for massive use. Live QnA is similar to Yahoo! Answers in terms of features and user interface — both of them offer points for answering questions to upgrade user level, feature top answerers, user voting system etc. The homework help section currently has only 18 questions with average 2 to 3 answers per question. I believe the questions and answers rates will increase gradually once Live QnA is out of beta.
In conclusion, you should visit these websites if you need help in answering your questions or to seek advice from experts for free. If you've time to spare and would like to offer your advice to others, you can do so at these websites. Learning won't be fun without helping others with what you've learnt! Do comment to share your experience with these Q&A websites or to let us know other Q&A websites that you like.
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