Answer by Robert Frost:
How do you decide what questions you will answer?When I scan through my A2A list, I'm primarily looking for questions that I think are interesting, that I haven't answered already, and that I know the answer. Contrary to Quora's new approach, I'm less likely to answer short questions. I don't like them.I'm lazy. While I like the idea of going off and researching an answer and learning something myself, I'm too lazy (or busy, yeah, that's the ticket) to do that more than once in a blue moon.Sometimes I'll answer a question solely because the premise of the question is wrong and I feel compelled to correct it.I prefer to not answer questions that already have answers. If I answer a question that already has answers, it's because I feel that the existing answers are not satisfactory or could even cause harm. As an instructor, I can't abide the spreading of bad information.How long does it typically take for you to answer a question?As already stated, I'm lazy. I rarely spend more than a few minutes answering a question. If an answer takes more than 10 minutes, it is usually because it requires math or needs an illustration. For the math questions, I open up Excel or Numbers and plug and chug. For the illustrations I open up PowerPoint or Keynote and doodle. Sometimes I feel a photo would work best and it can take a minute or two to Google up the right photo and then crop it.Do you plan out your answers?My training and experience as an instructor has made question answering a pretty automated process. I look at a question and think "how would I teach this?" In the classroom, I know not to open my mouth until my brain has decided what the destination is. Answers are stories. Before I start to respond I need to know Act one and Act three of the story. Act two can develop as I'm talking. The process is pretty similar when writing a Quora answer. Before word one is on the screen, I have to decide upon the setup and resolution. The development, or meat of the answer is largely stream of consciousness. I often dictate my answers using Siri. Then I skim through them and try to catch the errors, fix the formatting, and reduce some of the babbling.