Interesting thread here.
I'd like to weigh in as a guide if I may.
I do understand the frustration some of you are experiencing with the SE as it sits right now; however, you do have to keep in mind that this is an *alpha* version and as such highly experimental. Those of us who are working as guides also get frustrated with glitches and freezes and white screens and...well...all the same things you do.
But it will get better. If it survives.
Now, I for one, hope it does survive. For the obvious reasons and because due to some personal issues and living in podunkville USA if I am to make any money at all I have to telecommute. Which means customer service, (god forbid) telemarketing, or something like this. I actually enjoy this. I hate with the burning hot passion of 1 billion hot suns doing phone work and I won't touch telemarketing with a pole. As a bonus, the money for this, while no better, is certainly no worse than my other options.
For those of you who have actually connected to a guide, if they don't give you what you want then rate them accordingly. Especially in the case of a guide who "doesn't know much" about the topic at hand. If they don't know much they shouldn't have picked that as a keyword. If you give them a 1 they will go back into training and if they can't learn then they will stay safely out of harm's way so they don't annoy the users.
There was also some talk about bias. Speaking only for myself, of course, I have to say that I try to target my searches to exactly what the user is looking for. I don't have an agenda. I don't get paid more if I target sponsors. All I do is use the search engines that are the most likely to provide relevant results for the keyword and sift through them to find the best 3 or 4 I can. This is what we all do. Or what we are supposed to do.
I full well expect there will be some abuses, but those can be reported and there is some monitoring going on to weed out the ringers. And the incompetent.
As for the guide that gave one of you an invitation to be a guide...ACK! That is not supposed to happen. Invitations are only supposed to be given to people you know and trust. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest his armpits.
At any rate, the system is still learning, the guides are still learning and there is obviously a great deal of sanding off rough edges that needs to be done. Now, me, I'm a cynic. I know the fact that I enjoy this so much and actually have a talent for it may doom it. But I'm a hopeful cynic. If it does work...wouldn't it be grand?