Perplexed About Amazon Customer Questions

Or virtually any site that allows customers to ask questions of random strangers.

And what I find perplexing is…. the people who answer–specifically those whose answer can be summed up as “I don’t know”–seem to think that they’re required to answer. That they can’t just leave the question to someone else who might actually know the answer.

I mean, fine, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know the answer to something… at least when the alternative is giving some BS answer that attempts to deflect from the fact that you don’t actually know. Or worse, when the alternative is “I don’t care” about something that somebody else wanted information for. (I asked the question, I want the answers, why exactly should I care about whether you care? Just say you don’t know and leave it at that if you can’t be bothered to provide anything more substantial.)

But if you weren’t required to answer in the first place, why bother?

I’ll grant, it may make sense on other sites. Some places “reward” you with points for every answer (or non-answer), you get more points if your answer is voted as a good one, and you need to spend those points if you expect to ever ask questions of your own.

But as far as I’m aware, Amazon doesn’t do this. From what I can tell, answering a question on Amazon can only benefit you in one way, and that’s by how it affects your ranking. And call me crazy, but it seems that if your “I don’t knows” get a ton of “unhelpful” votes, that’s just going to hurt your ranking.

Then why do people do this? Why do they go on these websites for the express purpose of answering a question that they don’t even know the answer to? Could it be that they believe they were required to answer? That Amazon implements a point system similar to those other sites? That the automatically generated email with a customer question–the same email received by everybody who showed the tiniest bit of interest in insert-product-here–was written specifically for that individual?

All I can say is…. I don’t know.

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