Ah, the internet. While it’s a great means for sharing knowledge, it’s unfortunately just as great a platform to share ignorance. Few places is that more obvious than on Quora.
Intended as a place for experts to share their specific knowledge with the internet’s question-askers, the site is full of answers from people whose expertise is, at best, questionable. So Donut Media has taken a few minutes to highlight some of wildest stuff on the site.
The video has a few themes running through it. The first being, if you want a good answer, you need to ask a good question. Questions like “How long does it take to replace a head gasket?” are reasonable as an idle thought, but are less useful when that’s all the information provided.
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One person highlights how unhelpful the question is by responding “I can replace a head gasket on a lawnmower engine in 15 minutes.” Context matters a whole lot.
Other questions, though vague, are done a disservice by the people answering them. For example, the question of how to haggle at a dealership returns a protracted ramble about how dealers set prices and how you shouldn’t insult them by negotiating that feels like it was written by someone who works at a dealership. And that’s because it was.
Others who answer are just mean, spending more time insulting the person who asked the question in the first place than actually answering it. Others still provide plainly bad advice.
Although most of the questions were answered by people whose expertise was based on shaky, unofficial qualifications, even those with impressive qualifications were capable of bad advice. One answerer with a Ph.D. in physics, for instance, suggested that no one outside of a garage had the strength or the tools to swap a tire.
The selection of bad posts is actually a useful roundup on how information gets mishandled. From people asking bad questions, to people arguing against each other, to others engaging in strawman fallacies, conflicts of interest, and false appeals to authority, these examples show how bad information proliferates on the internet.