When I first came across it, I thought it seemed like a great idea. Using the same principal as Wikipedia (the wisdom of the masses) to answer people's questions. And because what one person wonders about is often what many other people have wondered about, it could be a great resource for finding answers to your own questions.
However, in practice, this site gives the worst possible answers imaginable.
Allow me to give an example.
This morning I was using the emoticon I invented of a Jew playing a Jew's harp :~¥ (The big crooked nose ~ is what makes the person a Jew. This is a happy Jew :~) and this is a sad jew :~( and this is a sad jew who is winking and shedding a tear ;`~( And this is a winking tear shedding jew with his/her mouth open ;`~() )
and it got me wondering why so many Jews have big noses. What environmental factors would have made having a huge nose evolutionarily advantageous?
Of course my first step was to do a google. As is is becoming increasingly common, the first several hits were from yahoo answers. I knew it was unlikely I would find what I was looking for, but I clicked on it anyway.
Here are some of the answers given:
I have no idea. Yet on occasion some people have thought I was Jewish (even other Jews thought so) and I don't have a large nose. It's just genetics or something. Hard to say, but that's all I can think of is genetics. :-)
This is no answer at all! Of course it is genetics! This doesn't tell us anything.
Its genetic. Jews marry jews and pass down those genes to jewish kids that marry jews that continue the cycle! You should see my brothers nose! But now that he's older he's actually grown into it. I somehow managed to be spared that genetic attribute, but chances are the genes will come out in full force when I have kids, lol!
Again with the non answer of genetics! The question isn't 'why do people have different sized noses' to which 'genetics' might be an accurate (though inadequate) answer.
When someone asks, 'why do jews have big noses' what they are most likely meaning is:
'why do these particular genes(nose genes) manifest themselves in this particular way(big) in this particular people(jews).' To respond to this with 'genes' doesn't even make sense.
More yahoo answers:
"I'm Canadian but my skin is a bit olive coloured and I have a bigger nose. When I was a teenager, I was often asked if I was Jewish.
Every culture has their special characteristics....asians have the slanted eyes, blacks have bigger lips, Jews and their noses, Dutch are taller, etc. I guess it's so they can tell us apart. It would be horrible if we all looked the same!
So... jews have big noses so they can be distinguished from non jews? How did this come to be? Natural selection? God?
More yahoo answers:
Genetics I guess. The same reason why so many of them are soooo smart. Leave their noses alone.
Again with the genetics answer! What would the alternative to genetics even be in this case? That people are physically re-shaping their noses to be big? That Jews eat certain foods which make their noses grow big? In 2010 we all already know it is genetic.
The 'leave their noses alone' part is also a pretty common feature of yahoo answers. Ie. criticizing the question/questioner.
More Yahoo answers:
prob their anscestors
Again, this doesn't tell us anything. How did their ancestors get big noses?
One feature of Yahoo answers is that one answer is chosen from the pool as the best one. It is chosen either by the person asking the question or voted on by other Yahoo Answers users.
This answer was chosen by the asker as the best one. So if you were to search into this site, this is what you would see as the approved answer to your question:
Im a Jewish woman and i have many friends (also jewish women) that do not have big noses- and neiter do I. and while some jewish women i know have big noses, so do some women of other religions. This is simply a GENE thing....
This is no answer at all! This tells us nothing about what we asked!
Oh, not all Jews have big noses, but some do, but its no big deal, just a gene thing, nothing to worry about.
This is typical Yahoo answers thread. I've seen much worse, and a handful that were better.
I've frequently seen the answer 'I don't know' or 'I don't really know but here is a guess...'. At first I would wonder 'then why answer?' but I think now I know. (If I am understanding how the site works correctly) I believe people are given points for every question they answer. This leads to people giving awful answers questions to questions they don't know anything about.
If I had to guess, this is the primary reason Yahoo Answers is so bad. If people weren't encouraged to answer questions they didn't know the answer to and were required to cite sources, it could probably be a resource comparable to Wikipedia.
P.s. I still haven't found the answer to my question. Does anyone know? This is my guess: Many Jews descend from desert dwelling people, who also tend to have big noses. Perhaps having a big nose is helpful in a desert environment in terms of expelling heat or conserving moisture or something along those lines. If anyone knows the answer, please let me know.