Yahoo! Answers & the Proverbial Spaghetti Sauce Question

I work for a progressive company that wants its employees to always be in the know. To that end, we all do routine industry reading to make sure we’re in touch with the latest and greatest trends in online search behavior. So I just had to write a short blog post about my latest fun discovery: Yahoo! Answers.

Yahoo! Answers isn’t a new service by any means, but it’s one that I only just recently had the pleasure of discovering. I’m also not the only person; according to one analysis, its popularity has been skyrocketing.

So what is Yahoo! Answers? It’s an online question-and-answer site where you can ask a question, and then people write back with an answer.

Why do I like it? Answers are provided by regular ol’ people, which means suggested solutions can be accurate as well as opinionated, controversial, amusing and even just plain bizarre. People love to dish out advice, so it’s marvelous fodder for all sorts of debates about extremely important questions such as, “How long can an opened glass jar of spaghetti sauce last in the fridge?”.

I was on the phone the other night with a good friend of mine who asked this very question. He’s not the greatest cook. His name is Graham, he’s a single guy, and he tends to cook things we call “Graham food” (boxed mac & cheese, microwave fish sticks, etc). I wasn’t sure as to the answer, so I said, “I know! Let me go ask Yahoo! Answers.”

Experienced searcher that I am, I typed Spaghetti Sauce Last into the “Search for Questions” box (this box lets you search for questions that have already been posted and answered). I was relieved to find that we are not the only pathetic people who need guidance in such situations – the spaghetti sauce question had already been asked a few times.

Perhaps one frustrating thing about Yahoo! Answers is that even though people vote on the best answer, it’s still hard to know if you really got the right answer or not. But at least you’re able to scroll down through every single answer that was posted, and not just the official “best” reply.

In the case of the spaghetti sauce – all sorts of replies poured in with a variety of date ranges, making me wonder about the gastrointestinal health of our nation. The general advice I gleaned is that if the sauce has meat in it, chuck it after 3 days, but if it’s just tomato sauce, it can keep for up to a week.

But again, it’s debatable. And being debatable is what makes Yahoo! Answers so much fun in the first place.

P.S. Graham’s sauce was over three weeks old. He threw it out.