Ask Mike. He’ll know

Mike Krumboltz has seen a lot of questions over the years.

In fact, since November 2004, his entire role has been to look over questions submitted by users, choose one interesting query each day, Ask Mike’s Mike Krumboltzand then hunt down the answer. His job was to write for Ask Yahoo!. Haven’t heard of it? That’s probably because Ask Yahoo! is now a thing of the past…

Ask Yahoo! was started in 1998 as a way for Internet users to pose questions to a team of Yahoo! surfers who would then search the Net to find answers. Mike’s tracked down answers on everything from dog saliva to impact of bovine gas on the environment to the order of succession for the office of POTUS. But ever since Yahoo! Answers launched and grew in popularity, Mike has had to deal with a minor identity crisis. Was Ask Yahoo! obsolete? What would Mike do if Ask Yahoo! went away?

A solution arose: give Mike a featured spot in Yahoo! Answers where he can continue to show off his mad cyberspace research skills. That’s the birds and the bees on how “Ask Mike” was born.

To ask Mike a question, you’d have to email him at, but he was nice enough to grant me some exclusive Q&A time.

You only just moved to Yahoo! Answers a few weeks ago. Do you miss Ask Yahoo!?
I do miss Ask Yahoo!, but writing for Yahoo! Answers is fun because it’s more challenging. I’ve opened myself up to more feedback – sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s really negative, and other times, it’s just really weird.

How’d you get this job in the first place?
I went to Miami University in Ohio. When majored in psych at Miami University in Ohio, I knew that I didn’t want to do anything with that. I lived in New York for a while, came back to the Silicon Valley, and got a job in Yahoo! Shopping as a production assistant on Video and DVD shopping. A year later I got moved to surfing, and from the moment I started in surfing I knew I wanted a shot at editorial work. Finally after two years they let me try my hand at Ask Yahoo!.

What’s the most common question you’re asked?
I get sent a lot of really inappropriate questions. People know we’d obviously never use them, but they are pretty funny to read.

Most controversial question you’ve ever answered?
Surprisingly the question about why so many people are afraid of clowns has had huge response.

What’s the toughest question you’ve ever had to research?
I remember one I did about the voice that says “please hang up and try again” on the telephone. That took a long time, but I finally found the woman and it was quite rewarding.

Have you ever been wrong?
Yes, I have been wrong. What comes to mind is a question I answered about Seinfeld. Someone asked what Kramer’s job was. I wrote that he didn’t really have one, but that he did take part in lots of schemes. I got lots of email saying I was wrong, that Kramer actually worked for a bagel shop, but was on strike the entire series. I ended up quietly correcting the answer.

Favorite types of questions to answer?
I really like word origin questions. Also I love researching urban legends and longstanding myths. I like writing about search trends too. I definitely put science as my least favorite question type; I peaked in 8th grade with that subject.

What are your best Internet search tips?
Putting quotes around search terms is really helpful when trying to narrow down search results. Also, use the minus sign.

What does that do?
Say you’re searching for a restaurant and your results are all about a movie with the same name. You can type -movie in your search to help eliminate results that include the movie title.

So if “Ask Mike” is work, what are your hobbies?
Well, I love to sleep. I love movies.

Are you one of those awesome-memory movie buffs who remember every plot detail, actor, trivial quotation?
Yes, yes. I amuse and annoy.

Ever make a movie of your own?
Yes actually! I was a finalist in the Radio Alice’s Three Minute Film Festival in San Francisco inspired by a comic urban legend.

That’s some great Mike Krumboltz trivia right there. Now see if you can go stump him.

Doreen Bloch
Yahoo! Intern