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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Google Answers Researcher Interview: Voila-ga

“Just call me ’V.’” is voicing her opinions in the Google Answers Researcher Interview.

As usual: This interview is approved by Google Answers, but does not in any way represent Google’s views.


Where do you live?
Between Rock and Hard Place.

What’s your profession?
I’m an editor/researcher in the healthcare biz.

What’s your age?
Old enough for a hot flash and too young for Medicare.

Got a homepage? Where?
{sniff, sniff} That smells of work.

Voila-ga on Google Answers

When did you become a Researcher?
I commented for a long while before applying for GARhood. My contract was signed May 14, 2002 but didn’t answer a question until June. My regular gig keeps me far too busy.

How did you find out about Google Answers?
I read a post at Metafilter where I once lurked a bit. Family and friends have used my noggin as their own personal internet since I’m your basic dilettante. It seemed a great way to get paid for something one does in their spare time anyway.

What do you like best about answering for Google Answers?
Gosh, there are so many things. Primarily I enjoy helping people find things ... you know, that “eureka” moment for both me and them. Kinda like finding your car keys. GA also allows you to work when it’s convenient and it’s much needed second income.

Would you consider taking this up as full-time job, provided the question volume would be high enough?
Well, I’m a researcher in my present position so I already do this type of work full-time. Working for Google Answers full-time? Only if I could become an actual Google employee. I work too slowly and get lost in my research to make it profitable as a contract worker. I would also need bennies ... lots and lots of bennies and some of those gourmet lunches would be nice.

What kind of question subject do you usually avoid?
Anything remotely dealing with computers or geek jargon. I’m a neo-Luddite and regularly rage against “the machines.” I admire all the folks who can answer these questions with authority.

What kind of question subject you usually like to answer?
Anything that sounds interesting. Any language questions. The “name my business, child, domain site” questions are fun and allow me to use another area of my brain. With most questions, you can intuit a certain research path and if you’ll enjoy going down that particular road. It’s pretty subjective.

In one sentence, what’s the trick to a good answer?
Go the extra mile and answer as if you’re giving the information to a family member or a very dear friend (if you’re not willing to do that, don’t lock the question).

What would be the new Google Answers slogan, if you were responsible to create one?
Google Answers: Home of Today’s Web Archeologists.

Which Researcher would you take as a guide on a dangerous island?
Mathtalk. The man knows formulas and shit. He’s a gentleman and a scholar and I’ve heard he’s quite meaty in case I get hungry. He also gives great directions.

Voila-ga’s Favorites

What are your favorite research tools and websites (please include browser and text editor you are using)?
Depends on the question. Fairly general topics are usually Googled. For anything exotic, I have probably 10,000 favorites bookmarked and categorized, so I’ll out something that looks applicable. Medscape has many excellent full journal articles but you have to register for access. Still, it’s an extremely useful tool if you tackle many medical questions.

For etymology questions, there’s

Browser: IE 6.0.
Text Editor: Notepad.

What are your favorite websites and newsgroups?
I flit around the web like someone with ADD on crack, so I’m pretty much an online nomad. As a link collector, I always frequent:

I will just suppose Google is your favorite search engine (right?). Do you remember which one you were using before, and why you decided to switch to Google?
You are correct, sir. Google is my favorite but I also use

Since I work in the healthcare, I started out using as they seemed to have more relevant content. Now they’re just TFTU (too funky to use).

What are some of your favorite questions & answers by others?
My favorite question of all time was the “conceptual, cross cultural encyclopedia of knowledge.”

Also any answers relating to a “qpet” or “gantonick” question & always interesting and educational reading.

What are some of the questions that were really a lot of fun answering for you?
Well, I didn’t answer it but I thought everyone had fun with the “furtive rustling” question.

Answering this question on Tantric sex was also fun, not that I know anything about the subject {wink}. I just get a voyeuristic kick out of planning other peoples’ vacations.

What would be a fun $200 question for you to answer?
This was easily a $200 question I would’ve have gladly spent weeks researching, but sadly the customer expired it.

Voila-ga’s Spare Time

Got any weird hobbies?
I assign people nicknames when their onscreen names don’t quite suit them. The questions people ask intrigue me, so I invent litte stories about our customers. I hope they don’t mind. When channeling Salvador Dali, I can produce some rather bizarre through-the-looking-glass poetry.

What was the last book you read, the last movie you saw, and the last album you listened to?
I’ve taken this multitasking thing to extremes, so I usually have five or books going at once. I can’t read anything too linear or plot driven. Currently it’s:

Movies? Don’t go to them much.

Music? Multitasking here again. I purchase my CDs in threes since my player holds three disks. My present trio:

Do you know some other Researchers in Real Life?
Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to meet pinkfreud who’s every bit as delightful in person as she is online. I’ve also spoken on the phone to acerearcher. She is a lovely woman and I hope to meet her IRL someday along with everyone else on Team GAR.

Final words by Voila-ga

If you’d write a book about your life, what would be the first sentence?
Albatross, flavored dental floss, wing-ed fleeber’s dross; roll softballs in my salad.

Anything else you’d want to add?
Sure, lemme get my calculator.

Researchers Develop Techniques For Computing Google-style Web Rankings Up To Five Times Faster

Researchers Develop Techniques For Computing Google-style Web Rankings Up To Five Times Faster; Speed-up May Make ’Topic-sensitive’ Page Rankings Feasible”
– National Science Foundation, 2003-05-14


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