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We Don't Answer Every Question
 

Our nonprofit site is dedicated to raising media attention for public issues. We don't have the resources to answer personal questions. For example, we write about tax policy, not how to file your taxes. If you have personal questions that need answering, we encourage you to try one of the paid sites, like Google Answers, where you can pay researchers a few dollars for a quick answer.

How it Works:

IIf your question has a public interest angle, and the potential to interests lots of other people, then we will post it to our site. We accept about 20% of the questions submitted to us.

Hundreds of quesitons have already been addressed. You should search our site to see if yours is already covered before posting a new one.

First, we assess public interest by collecting votes and comments:

'Me-too' Votes: other people can 'join' your question by offering 'me too' votes on questions that interest them. This is how we know which questions are most urgent. We can keep your question active on the site indefinitely. Of course, you can join other people's questions, too.

Comments: People may add comments or suggestions to your question. You can do the same. We collect public commentary, check the links and information sources people recommend, and then add that information to the question. We favor comments that provide new information on the topic over ones that simply express an opinion or complaint. We post about 20% of the comments.

Every question collects 'me too' votes and public comments. But we don't have the staff or resources to answer every question.

We address high-interest questions only:

When questions garner many 'me too' votes and commentary, our editors will go the next step and begin the process of answering them. We will also include the most popular questions in our weekly email to the media.

Sometimes the mainstream media will respond to very popular questions on their own, simply because they see the very high level of public interest about those questions. But sometimes we need to address those questions ourselves - because the media is unable or unwilling to answer them

When the media provides no credible answers, we'll do it ourselves:

Even if the news industry ignores popular questions raised here, we will move to answer those questions ourselves, with your support and donations collected from everyone else who cares to see those questions answered.

First step, info search: We hire a freelance librarian or professional researcher to locate information that is already publicly available on that question. We will always try to provide this preliminary research for the most popular questions posted at our site. Many questions will be answered at this stage, because there are thousands of information providers offering reliable information on most topics.

Second step, new reporting: Some questions have never been answered before. Or the available answers do not address the heart of your concerns. In these cases, and when a question has very strong popular support, we will recruit a journalist to undertake original reporting and develop new information on that question

Who does the reporting?

Professional journalists: We find journalists with strong subject expertise and relevant experience.

Editorial advisory board: our professional board can help us negotiate fair contracts with journalists and shape story direction to maximize the public value that results. Our board will also advise us on controversial issues like whether to post potentially offensive or inflammatory questions and language

How are journalists paid?

Public donations. Original reporting takes time and money. Public donations cover these costs. We will not undertake hiring a journalist unless the question is very popular and the public is willing to make advance donations. No one of us alone could afford to hire a reporter even for the most urgent questions, but together, we can come up with all the money that's needed.

The role of donors: As a donor you will receive the final article for free as soon as it is published. And, more importantly, you will be helping to focus attention on a question that you care about.

Once original articles are published:

We continue to ask for donations from everyone who reads articles. These donations will go towards research and operating costs not covered by other contributions. You can see all of our articles here: www.askquestions.org/articles.html.

 
 
AskQuestions.org is a service of the Public Interest News Gate, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public access to information.

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