During the aughts, there was a vague notion among techno-optimists that crowdsourcing knowledge was the answer to just about every problem. Using the wisdom of crowds, the thought went, people would have unprecedented access to expertise. “With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow,” said the open-source software community. The success of Wikipedia meant that mass collaboration, open systems of production, and talented amateurs would win the day, this line of thinking went. Books such as The Wisdom of Crowds, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, and Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations pushed the idea that the future was the group.
It was in this environment, in 2005, that Yahoo! started Yahoo! Answers. In theory, it should have been the biggest, most important site on the internet. In practice, Yahoo! Answers will be shut down on May 4th.
So I thought I would preserve, for future generations, the intellectual inquiry that went on there.
*Note: This is a repost. The original is featured in this video.