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Why Wikipedia is the "answer to everything"

The other day I learnt about ChaCha, the human intelligence search engine. Curious how good it works, I formulated a sample question. So I typed in the following question into the search field:


"answer to everything"

Promptly, I got assigned to a nice guide. He could help me very fast. And finally came up with the following search result:


  1. Lists of philosophers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Lists of philosophers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Well, it seems as if Wikipedia is the answer to everything. I love this search result!


Let's see how my ChaCha guide came to this decision (I have changed the name of my guide, since I wanted it to be anonymized a little bit, at least):


Status: Looking for a guide ...
Status: Connected to guide: SomeGuide
SomeGuide: Hi there. I will be helping with your search.
SomeGuide: Hey, there. How are you today?
SomeGuide: So you're looking for the 'answer to everything'?
You: i am good
You: and you?
You: yes
SomeGuide: I'm great. Thanks for asking
You: SomeGuide, I am really curious what might be a good answer for everything
SomeGuide: You mean in conversation?
SomeGuide: Or 'everything' in an all-encompassing philosophical scope.
You: yes, philosophical
You: It sounds like a hard task, but I am looking for that to put into a slideshow for my next presentation
You: as an opening quote
You: it will be a technical talk about research opportunities
You: for the future
SomeGuide: Hmm, that's quite a question...
You: so, the final goal of research would be to have the answer for everything
You: i wonder if some philosopher said something which might be related to that question
SomeGuide: I'll see if I can find something
SomeGuide: There's really no defininitve answer to a question like that. Anything someone could present as a theory would just be speculation / opinon
SomeGuide: Maybe just sort of wing it, go with somethign that sounds nice
SomeGuide: like perhaps, "Through research one acheives wisdom and understanding..."
You: yes, it should be controversial
You: not obvious like your last suggestion
SomeGuide: Most of the controversy around a question like that would seem to only stem from relgious outlooks though
You: speculation/opinions are good
SomeGuide: Such as differing opinions on the ultimate goal of life, the realization and acceptance of god, heaven, etc
SomeGuide: It doesn't seem like you wan't somethign religious for your presentation though
You: good point! it should not be religous though
SomeGuide: But that really seems like the only way to even attempt to find meaning to a question that is so spiritual sounding as that
SomeGuide: That's what I was thinking
You: maybe goal of life is unreligion enough
You: it's the motivation of researchers, anyway, i guess
SomeGuide: But I dont really see how else you could even begin to answer such a question without some sort of faith because there simply isn't enough known about EVERYTHING
SomeGuide: Maybe the goal of life and everything is just self-preservation and self-interest
You: so a short quote with "Maybe we were wrong the last 50 years; or why would we have lost our sense for triviality"
You: (just made that up by myself)
SomeGuide: Or maybe if you're less cynical the answer of everything would be preservation of society
You: maybe, you are right
You: maybe we want to think that we achieve what is supposed (by the advertising industry) to be sexy...
SomeGuide: Could be for some people. A lot of the population is definatley motivated by what they want others' perceptions of themselves to be
You: maybe i want to travel to fancy places (even if i don't care about other cultures), have a job that completely fulfills me (even if i do not like to work), have a family (even if i do not love them)
SomeGuide: or what they themselves FEEL that they should be in order to fit in
SomeGuide: Finding a set in stone quotation of the as to the answer for everything though, I just don't think that is something that can be found
You: hm :(
You: so you think ChaCha cannot help here?
SomeGuide: the answer would differ so drastically from person to person
SomeGuide: you just can't really find ONE specific answer. Everyone has their own idea of what the answer to life, or their own goal is.
You: maybe an ancient philosopher said something which is somehow untouchable
SomeGuide: And I don't think a search engine is the place to discover your thoughts on that...
You: but that is my point. maybe there is a quote that could express that
SomeGuide: I you want I could provide you with some links about ancient philosophers
SomeGuide: Plato, Confucious, Socrates, people like that
You: about this very problem what the answer to everything is?
SomeGuide: I sort of see what youre getting at right now though. Maybe not so much a quote that IS the answer to everything. But more ofa quote that describes exactly why there CANNOT BE an answer to everything?
SomeGuide: Someone's take on the impossiblity of finding an answer?
You: exactly
You: would be a great introduction to a talk about finding new goals
You: maybe that is too generic
SomeGuide: I just sent a massive list of philosophers your way
SomeGuide: Alphabetical, also split up by ethnicity and religion
You: you don't know about a philosopher that was talking about this topic?
SomeGuide: It's about the single most generic question I've ever been asked actually...
SomeGuide: Not to sound discouraging though :)
SomeGuide: Well it would seem that just about EVERY philosopher would be talking about this subject
You: true
You: :)
SomeGuide: Were you just trying to stump me on a question that wouldn't be able to be answered?
You: no, no
SomeGuide: Hehe, okay
SomeGuide: Well, I think I've answered about as well as I can. This might not be the type of thing ChaCha is set up to handle...
You: just learnt about ChaCha during preparing a slidetalk looking for a quote
You: okey, thanks for your help
SomeGuide: If you wan't I could transfer you to another guide?
You: where can i rate you?
SomeGuide: It should pop up after the session ends.
SomeGuide: Hope I helped at least some, and I hope you find the answer to everything :)
You: are you specialised in philosophy?
You: or someone of your crew?
SomeGuide: No, this one was just sort of thrown to me at random
You: OK.
You: good job, anyway!
SomeGuide: LOL Thanks
SomeGuide: Anything else you might need to find before I go?
You: no, thanks
SomeGuide: Alright, great. Have a nice rest of the day
SomeGuide: Hope you liked ChaCha
SomeGuide: Please RATE ME when you see the five stars. Thanks for using ChaCha.
Status: Session ended.


Discussion initiated by Matthias Sala (matthias ~AT~ sala ~DOT~ ch). September 28th, 2006. From http://matthias.sala.ch