Can you drink water from an Air Conditioner? Google says no, Yahoo says yes

… or at least their respective “answers” services do.

rusty juice Today I saw that the very first product of Google Labs (launched back before “beta” was in Vogue) Google Answers is finally shutting down. This stands in stark contrast to Yahoo Answers, which launched just months ago and has enjoyed pretty impressive growth and adoption. It’s not really fair to compare them side by side since they’re significantly different products, but I will do so anyway.

Google Answers was a paid service. You could ask a question, post a bounty for it (say $10), and one of Google’s researchers would research and answer you. There was an unspecified but real relationship between price, difficulty, and time it took to answer (usually several hours).

Yahoo Answers, by contrast, is an unpaid service. You can ask a question and within minutes or even seconds some 15 year old punk will give you a snide remark posing as an answer. Once in a while, somebody will attempt to actually answer it and even more rarely, answer with some degree of usefulness.

Want some examples of what I mean?

I took the 4 questions mentioned in Google Answers “adieu post“, ones that had been answered previously via Google Answers and posted them in Yahoo Answers to see the difference in responses. Here is the breakdown:

  • Can you drink water from an Air Conditioner?
    Answers: Google | Yahoo

    Google: “All facility managers should know that air-conditioning systems and cooling towers are a potential breeding ground for Legionella bacteria.”
    Yahoo: “It’s actually not bad. Try it. Taste like chicken.”

  • Why do flies survive a good microwaving?
    Answers: Google | Yahoo

    Google: “To answer this, first we must understand how a microwave oven works…”
    Yahoo: “because they r strange thats y”

  • How many tyrannosaurs are in a gallon of gasoline?
    Answers: Google | Yahoo

    Google: “The answer is that the carbon content of one tyrannosaur is equivalent to that in about 460 gallons of gasoline”
    Yahoo: “56″ (that’s user Grumpy Dufu’s best guess)

  • What is the flammability of Google headquarters?
    Answers: Google | Yahoo

    Google: No answer. Comment: “Google HQ’s Flamability Index remains unchanged.”
    Yahoo: “Only one way to find out. Go torch that mother[bleep]er.”

So overall, I think the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true. However, this also illustrates that free services that are heavily promoted by their companies will do better than paid services that are not given the proper exposure (even if they are of better quality). There was also the issue of timing. Y!A launched during the craze of the second dotcom bubble (you might know it as web 2.0), while G!A launched right after the great depression of post-dotcom bubble (web 1.24) and therefore automatically received much less attention.

Y! Answers is now more akin to MySpace while G! Answers is was much more akin to a librarian working for tips. In today’s teen fueled economy (while more attractive than its counterpart) can’t really compete in popularity to

Maybe there’s a reason Google has been less receptive than Yahoo to using low level user generated data in their products.

To recap:

Finding out AC juice is not good for you? $2
Powering your car with a tyrannosaurs? $1,035
Yahoo Answers? Priceless

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Yaniv Golan November 30, 2006 at 3:49 am

That is one interesting research work you did here :)

I do invite you to check out Yedda (

While free, it uses a different interaction model than the one used in other services.

I think that you will quickly notice that the “quality” of the questions & answers on Yedda is much better than in other free services, and on the relevant topics, often approaches the rather high quality that was previously found on Google Answers.

Of course, the real credit for this goes to the amazing community of folks using Yedda…


Chris Hooley December 1, 2006 at 11:29 am

Dude, screw witing for those Tyranosaus to decompose. That aint gangsta, this is.


SMS Collection December 27, 2006 at 12:51 pm

Nice review and specially I like the way you compared google answers with yahoo answers.
And It’s bad to see google answers are gone, I really loved reading them.


SMS4Smile April 29, 2007 at 9:52 am

I wish could have the ability of evaluting the truth behind this article, but unfortunately yahoo is not international yet so I can’t test.

anyways, interesting article


SMS May 23, 2008 at 6:59 am

I think its just because we always see tussle between the two. So they might be trying to provide “different view point” to their users.


Jignesh July 15, 2010 at 3:06 am

If there is option for airconditer water then we will not drink but if there is no option we have to Drink.

Both have different point of view.

Nice blog.


SPLIT AIR CONDITIONER October 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Q. What is Central air conditioning ?

A. Central air conditioning, commonly referred to as central air (U.S.) or air-con (UK), is an air conditioning system that uses ducts to distribute cooled and/or dehumidified air to more than one room, or uses pipes to distribute chilled water to heat exchangers in more than one room, and which is not plugged into a standard electrical outlet.

With a typical split system, the condenser and compressor are located in an outdoor unit; the evaporator is mounted in the air handler unit. With a package system, all components are located in a single outdoor unit that may be located on the ground or roof.

Central air conditioning performs like a regular air conditioner but has several added benefits:

When the air handling unit turns on, room air is drawn in from various parts of the building through return-air ducts. This air is pulled through a filter where airborne particles such as dust and lint are removed. Sophisticated filters may remove microscopic pollutants as well. The filtered air is routed to air supply ductwork that carries it back to rooms. Whenever the air conditioner is running, this cycle repeats continually.
Because the condenser unit (with its fan and the compressor) is located outside the home, it offers a lower level of indoor noise than a free-standing air conditioning unit.


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