The Short Version:
Hawaii Answers aims to answer the most common, and some uncommon, questions about Hawaii. It is an evolving resource through which original questions submitted by the public are individually answered and archived, as well as a repository of frequently referenced articles and official information (provided with citations, of course). If this site doesn’t have the answer, it will point the way to the websites and people who do.
The Long Version:
The genesis of Hawaii Answers goes all the way back to the summer of 1995. Back then, the web was in its infancy, but other avenues of Internet communication were thriving. Among them was USENET, a worldwide network of thousands of newsgroups, or discussion groups. And one of these newsgroups, alt.culture.hawaii, became a gathering place for people all over the world with an interest in Hawaii. Net-savvy locals interacted with expatriate islanders as well as would-be tourists and future residents.
Over time, of course, a lot of the same questions would come up, posted by people stumbling across the newsgroup for the first time. Fortunately, throughout USENET there was a convention known as the FAQ, or “Frequently Asked Questions” file. Active newsgroups would compile and regularly post their FAQs, which in many ways became one of the most valuable resources they could offer. So it was during that summer nearly ten years ago that I volunteered to compile the alt.culture.hawaii FAQ. And though it only saw a handful of revisions, it tackled dozens of oldies but goodies, from “How can you have interstate highways in Hawaii?” to “What is animal quarantine?” to “Just how high is the cost of living?”
The Internet has changed quite a bit since then. While alt.culture.hawaii is still around, it’s overrun by spam. And while soc.culture.hawaii is a newer, moderated alternative, USENET isn’t quite the hub of activity and information it once was.
Today, of course, there are countless websites: government websites, commercial websites, personal websites, and wholly inexplicable, weird websites. There are newsgroups, message boards, mailing lists, chat rooms, and a million other nooks and crannies that could potentially yield helpful information, provided you can find it… and trust it. For better or worse, the Internet is an unlimited, but also an unorganized and unfiltered, resource. Even through the all-seeing eye of Google, it’s not easy to separate the useful from the useless.
Fast forward to the spring of 2004. During a lunch hour gathering of local geeks, a newcomer to the islands expressed the familiar frustration of finding simple and basic information about Hawaii. “Why isn’t there one database of… everything?” It was impractical — no, impossible. Sure enough, that very night, Hawaii Answers was born.
We love Hawaii. And we want everyone who is looking for something about the islands to be able to find it. We want to answer every question there is about Hawaii… but we also want to answer each question only once. You might think of Hawaii Answers as an elaborate FAQ, a powerful public knowledge base, a newspaper advice column gone wild, a helpful Q&A web community, or just another nifty Hawaii website. But we hope you’ll find it useful.
`O au iho no me ke aloha,