Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ways Scott could have gotten his question answered

In a blog entry of Scott Aaronson's he asks an interesting question (he often does!) about boy-meets-girl type fiction- both film and literature. Later in comment 20 he asks another interesting question (he often has interesting questions in his comments!):
How could I have gotten efficient answers to my question other than blogging it. I don't know of any existing way to search books and movies by plot-structure other than by querying the the humans who've read or watched them. (Then again, this is probably not a common want.)
Rather than be comment 90 on Scotts blog, I share my thoughts on this question here.
  1. Scotts audience is, I assume, mostly CS/Math/Phy people. Not clear if thats really a good target group to ask about literature and film.
  2. Is there some other blog which does have the audience helpful to Scott? I honestly don't know, but that is one answer: Find someone who has a blog with a more appropriate audience and ask to guest blog. (And in exchange that blogger can guest blog on Scott's blog and ask about Quantum Complexity.)
  3. There used to be READNEWS GROUPS (actually there still are) where there is no head person who controls it, people just post stuff. They are not used so much anymore, but Scott could try to post on an appropriate one. (NOTE: thats how I got some of my Bob Dylan satires, by posting a request to
  4. i> Find an expert. I wonder if Google or Google++ or whatever will ever replace asking someone who knows stuff. Scott should just ask Roger Ebert about film. Perhaps for money. Or they could barter since Roger Ebert has always wanted to know about Perfect Completness for QMA. Actually Ebert does have on his webpage a place for people to ask questions; however Scotts question is more complex than the usual How come you recommended movie X when it sucked?-type questions.
  5. Are there already experts on the web who will answer questions, either for free or for money or for barter?


  1. On a social news service such a reddit, if your question is interesting enough to be upvoted to the front page, then you will probably get some very good answers.

    So yes, you can get good answers for free, but only if your question is interesting.

  2. they are called Usenet newsgroups. readnews is just one (ancient) usenet reader program.

    also, i'm not sure i like this blog once again venturing into the "cs people don't/shouldn't have any hobbies" mentality. i know several computer scientists who are film fanatics or avid literature readers. i think comments like this are counterproductive.

  3. How about Yahoo answers?

  4. Try

  5. "Scotts audience is, I assume, mostly CS/Math/Phy people. Not clear if thats really a good target group to ask about literature and film"

    Geez, what do you take us to be? Chimps?

    Honestly, I usually find some sort of a latent stereotype in Gasarch's remarks. Perhaps G should spend some time reflecting on his writing before posting it.