Here's why Lostpedia answers doesn't help us:

1. Unanswerable questions

We can't answer many of the questions people submit. The most coherent questions ask for answers we don't yet have.

2. Answerable questions

As for those questions that we can answer, those answers are already in the encyclopedia and aren't at all hard to find.

3. Irrelevant questions

Some of the questions cover video games, chemistry, movies and other completely irrelevant subjects. We needn't waste time on them.

4. Gibberish

The remaining questions are complete gibberish or are single words, like "Kate?" Trying to puzzle out their meaning helps no one.

Here's why Lostpedia Answers actually hurts us:

1. Opportunity cost

The people who answer these questions are Lostpedia users who care about contributing. If they weren't answering questions, they could collaborate on articles, which permanently improves the site. Instead, they spend time answering a question which soon vanishes into a stream of other questions.

We could also spend this time with working, or with family or... nah, who am I kidding. We'll spend it somewhere on Lostpedia no matter what.

2. Reduced traffic

What about those occasions when we actually manage to succinctly answer a question, saving the questioner a trek through our encyclopedia?

That's not good at all. We'd rather they go to the encyclopedia, even if they get completely lost in the process. I don't know if the site's generating any revenue, ad wise or otherwise, but regardless, we write it so people will read it. Why give them a reason not to?

3. Image

We're working towards an authoritative, comprehensive guide to all things LOST. Then, on our main page, our users are apparently asking "What are the Polar Bears?"

4. Spoilers

This, I suppose is the most serious potential for harm. I've seen spoilers on Lostpedia Answers. Anyone can post them, and they immediately appear on the main page. Ordinary users can't edit out these spoilers. And though we can ask moderators to constantly censor the questions, there are just so many of them, and it wastes so much time.

5. Unfair to contributors

If you answer a question, your name's attached to the answer. If someone edits the answer, your name remains.

For instance, I answered the question: "If oxygen is lacking, how might cells meet their energy needs through fermentation?" with:

"Though fermentation is one form of anaerobic decomposition, a different process occurs in human cells. Regardless of oxygen content, the first part of respiration in anaerobic. Glucose is "oxidized" (a chemical term for the removal of electrons) as mitochondria change it to a series of other molecules. The only reason that Danielle associated the whispers with the Others was that Ben warned her of the whispers when he stole Alex. We don't know their true origin. Under normal conditions, this final product, an organic acid, is oxidized further, into water and carbon dioxide. When oxygen is lacking, such as during heavy exercise, the acid is partially oxidized, to lactic acid, which is not fully oxidized till later."

Someone appended to this answer:

"Or your mother supplies oxygen by blowing the cell and tonguing its membrane."

And who apparently submitted this answer? Balk Of Fame.

In a companion post, I'll list ridiculous Lostpedia questions. Post any useful ones you see there. If you want to officially weigh in, vote on the Ideas page.

So it turns out we have no power over Lostpedia Answers. Aw well.

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