Yahoo! Answers launches Ask the Planet campaign

Yahoo! Answers unveiled a new promotion today called “Ask the Planet,” where celebrities, notables and allegedly interesting people will pose questions that users will answer for a chance to win prizes. The celebrity line up is high-profile and should garner a lot of attention.

Questions will be posed to users by the following:

  • Marilyn vos Savant, the holder of world’s highest IQ, begins the promotion today with a question about the best way to help kids in school.
  • Friday through Sunday will be your chance to answer a question from Donald Trump, in exchange for a $5,000 spending account.
  • CNBC’s finance guru Suze Orman’s prize is 3 oz of pure gold.
  • Click and Clack, or Tom and Ray Magliozzi from NPR’s Car Talk will participate. The prize for their question is free gas for a year. And all you get for Donald Trump’s question is $5,000!
  • Arrianna Huffington will pose a query about News and Events, the winner will get a trip for two to DC. Thrilling.
  • Al Gore’s question is tied to a free 2006 Prius.
  • Stephan Hawking’s social science question gets one person a trip to the Smithsonian.
  • Bono will close the event and Yahoo! will donate $25k to his One campaign in honor of the winner.

It’s called Ask The Planet, but the company claims that it is legally prohibited from give prizes to anyone outside the US. That’s liable to raise some ire. In fact, for having a name like that, the campaign seems pretty US centered. Likewise, in the spirit of mass page views – I mean scientific inquiry, it appears that the winners will be selected at random and users are encouraged to offer more replies for greater chances to win. The company plans to plaster ads for the campaign all over the US. None the less, looks like an interesting campaign that’s liable to raise the profile of Yahoo! Answers significantly. Is asking your audience to all throw their answers in a hat the best way to solve the world’s most vexing problems? Call me cynical, but I’m not sure it is.