Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, September 4, 2014

annals of jerkdom, Answers.com edition

Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t write any more about Twitter, but this is not about Twitter as such — only about a new way of abusing it. 

So here are the people who run Answers.com. And here’s what they do: they tell everyone who is interested in the question “Why is absolutism bad?” (among other things) to tweet their questions to Dan Cohen, the Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America. (They think he still works at George Mason University, but never mind. Poor research is the least of their crimes.) 

Up at the top of each page on the site you’ll find a question box that says “Ask us anything,” so Dan must work for Answers.com, right? Well, no. He doesn’t. 

So, then, they must be employing Dan as an outside expert and paying him appropriately? The correct answer would be No. 

Well, then, surely they asked Dan if he would be willing to answer questions people send to him on Twitter? Alas, the answer to that question is also No. 

So now Dan — and presumably others whom Answers.com has blessed by choosing as experts — gets deluged with questions from strangers, which doesn’t do much for a person’s Twitter experience. Answers.com doesn’t provide emails for any of its “management team,” and none of them seem to use Twitter. (The CEO hasn’t tweeted since 2011.) The company has not responded — big surprise, yes? — to Dan’s requests that they stop using his Twitter account in this way. 

So how about Twitter itself: will they do anything? Fat chance

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