So, I’ve been answering questions about grammar and dogs and biology and stuff over on Quora. I can’t remember why and how the first one popped up in my inbox, but they’re kind of fun.
Also, sometimes kind of ridiculous.
Here’s a reasonable question, the kind that Quora exists to help with:
Do both sentences have the same meaning, “The bill will be brought to us by the waiter” and “We will be brought the bill by the waiter”?
I presume this question was asked by an ESL person. There are tons of excellent questions like this.
Here’s a question that is perhaps less suitable:
What are the three characteristics of desert vegetation?
The questioner might as well append: Do my homework for me, please!
Here’s another question that strikes me as unsuitable for a different reason:
What kind of big dog breed would be suitable for a woman?
How could anyone answer that? Other than by saying, “All of them, depending on you.” This is an example of a question that should be written to be far, far more specific. I really must admit, I don’t understand why the questioner doesn’t SEE that this question is far too vague to get a helpful response. How can she not understand that if she says, “What kind of big dog breed would be suitable for me, if I won’t be able to provide much exercise and mostly want a dog to watch tv with in the evenings?” Even that is too vague, but it would be better.
Also, there are the sorts of questions that anybody should be able to google in two seconds:
Are monkeys warm-blooded or cold-blooded?
Not only an attempt to get someone else to do homework (at least, that seems likely), but for heaven’s sake, can’t you google “warm-blooded” and “cold-blooded” and then answer that question yourself?
My favorite so far, in a sense:
If I have 7 grams of cocaine and I needed to add enough baking soda to make 9 grams, how much baking soda should I add?
I am not making this up. I am not making up any of these.
I did not answer that one, but someone else did, with an inquiry about whether the questioner had suffered some terrible head injury that left him or her unable to do grade-school subtraction. I did think the more likely explanation in this case was that drugs had melted the questioner’s brain.
At the top of my Quora questions right now:
Are German Shepherds killer dogs or just a dog? My husband wants to get one as a guard dog, but can they be a friend to the family and not turn on their owners?
Here’s one from yesterday:
In writing, how do I avoid insta-love?
Way too broad, and yet not a bad question. I actually answered that one by referring to the Touchstone trilogy, as the relationship in that one is about as far from insta-love as you can get in a story with an important romance. I hope the questioner reads that trilogy and enjoys it!
Skimming through and answering Quora questions is surprisingly addictive. Has anybody else played around with this platform?