Type of site
|Launched||June 28, 2005|
Yahoo! Answers (formerly known as Yahoo! Q & A) is a community-driven question-and-answer (Q&A) site or a knowledge market from Yahoo! that allows users to both submit questions to be answered and answer questions asked by other users.
The website Yahoo! was officially incorporated on March 2, 1995, and was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo. The website began as a simple search directory for various websites, and soon grew into an established Internet resource that features the "Yahoo! Answers" platform. Yahoo! Answers was launched on June 28, 2005, while in internal alpha testing by Director of Engineering, Ofer Shaked. Yahoo! Answers was launched to the general public while in beta testing on December 8, 2005, which lasted until May 14, 2006. Yahoo! Answers was finally incorporated for general availability on May 15, 2006.
Yahoo! Answers was created to replace Ask Yahoo!, Yahoo!'s former Q&A platform which was discontinued in March 2006. The site gives members the chance to earn points as a way to encourage participation and is based on Naver's Knowledge iN. Yahoo! Answers is available in 12 languages, but several Asian sites operate a different platform which allows for non-Latin characters. The platform is known as Yahoo! Chiebukuro (Yahoo!知恵袋) in Japan and as Yahoo! Knowledge in Korea, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. An Arabic language Q&A platform called Seen Jeem is available through the Yahoo! subsidiary Maktoob.
Yahoo! Answers allows any questions that do not violate Yahoo! Answers community guidelines. To encourage good answers, helpful participants are occasionally featured on the Yahoo! Answers Blog. Though the service itself is free, the contents of the answers are owned by the respective users – while Yahoo! maintains a non-exclusive royalty-free worldwide right to publish the information. Chat is explicitly forbidden in the Community Guidelines, although categories like Politics and Religion & Spirituality are mostly opinion. Users may also choose to reveal their Yahoo! Messenger ID on their Answers profile page.
Misuse of Yahoo! Answers is handled by a user moderation system, where users report posts that are in breach of guidelines or the Terms of Service. Posts are removed if they receive sufficient weight of trusted reports (reports from users with a reliable reporting history). Deletion may be appealed: an unsuccessful appeal receives a 10-point penalty; a successful one reinstates the post and reduces the 'trust rating' (reporting power) of the reporter. If a user receives a large number of violations in a relatively short amount of time or a very serious violation, it can cause the abuser's account to be suspended. In extreme, but rare cases (for a Terms of Service violation), the abuser's entire Yahoo! ID will be suddenly deactivated without warning.
To open an account, a user needs a Yahoo! ID but can use any name as identification on Yahoo! Answers. A user can be represented by a picture from various internet avatar sites or a user-made graphic uploaded to replace their default Yahoo graphic. Yahoo! Avatars was discontinued in 2012. When answering a question, a user can search Yahoo! or Wikipedia, or any source of information that the user wishes, as long as they mention their source.
Questions are initially open to answers for four days. However, the asker can choose to pick a best answer for the question after a minimum of one hour. However, comments and answers can still be posted after this time. To ask a question, one has to have a Yahoo! account with a positive score balance of five points or more.
The points system is weighted to encourage users to answer questions and to limit spam questions. There are also levels (with point thresholds), which give more site access. Points and levels have no real world value, cannot be traded, and serve only to indicate how active a user has been on the site. A notable downside to the points/level system is that it encourages people to answer questions even when they do not have a suitable answer to give to gain points. Users also receive ten points for contributing the "Best Answer" which is selected by the question's asker. The voting function, which allowed users to vote for the answer they considered best, was discontinued in April 2014.
In addition to points awarded for activity, Yahoo! Answers staff may also award extra points if they are impressed with a user's contributions. The Yahoo! Answers community manager has stated that "power users" who defend the company should be thanked and rewarded.
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3||Level 4||Level 5||Level 6||Level 7|
Note: All limitations are per day.
Users begin on level 1 and receive 100 free points. Prior to this, they began on level 0, could only answer one question, and then were promoted to level 1.
Before April 20, 2012, users levels 5 and above could give an unlimited amount of questions, answers, and comments. Yahoo! Answers established an upper limit to curb spam and unproductive answers. Before April 2014 users were also able to vote for a best answer if the asker didn't choose one, but this was discontinued.
The point system ostensibly encourages users to answer as many questions as one possibly can, up to his or her daily limit. Once a user achieves, and provided the user maintains a certain minimum number of such contributions (See Note*, further...), the user may receive an orange "badge" under the name of his or her avatar, naming the user a Top Contributor (TC). The user can lose this badge if one does not maintain his or her level of participation. Once a user becomes a "Top Contributor" in any category, the badge appears in all answers, questions, and comments by the user, regardless of category. One can be a Top Contributor in a maximum of 3 categories. The list of Top contributors is updated every Monday. Although Yahoo! Answers staff has kept secret the conditions of becoming a TC, many theories exist among users, for example:
- Maintaining a weekly (mystery) "quota" of answers in the category.
- User wanting to become a TC must have more than or equal to 12% Best answers.
- User should be at least on level 2, although there have been claims that first-level users with TC Badge have been seen.
- User should concentrate only on one particular category to become a Top Contributor for that category.
Out of these, none have an official status. This feature began March 8, 2007.
A number of studies have looked at the structure of the community and the interaction between askers and responders. Studies of user typology on the site have revealed that some users answer from personal knowledge – "specialists" – while others use external sources to construct answers – "synthesists", with synthesists tending to accumulate more reward points. Adamic et al. looked at the ego networks of users and showed that it is possible to distinguish "answer people" from "discussion people" with the former found in specialist categories for factual information, such as mathematics and the latter more common in general interest categories, such as marriage and wrestling. They also show that answer length is a good predictor of "best answer" choice. Kim and Oh looked at the comments given by users on choosing best answers and showed that content completeness, solution feasibility and personal agreement/confirmation were the most significant criteria.
Quality of answers
Despite the presence of experts, academics and other researchers, Yahoo! Answers' base consists of a much more general group; hence, it has been criticized for the large number of dubious questions, such as "how is babby formed how girl get pragnent" [sic], which sparked an Internet meme.
This "Internet language" of incorrect spelling and improper grammar also contributes to Yahoo! Answers's reputation of being a source of entertainment rather than a fact based question and answer platform . and for the reliability, validity, and relevance of its answers. A 2008 study found that Yahoo! Answers is suboptimal for questions requiring factual answers and that the quality decreases as the number of users increases. One journalist observed that the structure Yahoo! Answers provides, particularly the persistence of inaccuracies, the inability to correct them and a point structure that rewards participation more readily than accuracy all indicate that the site is oriented towards encouraging use of the site, not offering accurate answers to questions. The number of poorly formed questions and inaccurate answers has made the site a target of ridicule. Likewise, posts on many Internet forums and Yahoo! Answers itself indicate that Yahoo! Answers attracts a large number of trolls.
The site does not have a system that filters the correct answers from the incorrect answers. At one time, the community could vote for the best answer among the posted answers; but that option was disabled in March 2014. For most of the life of Yahoo! Answers, once the "best answer" was chosen, there was no way to add more answers nor to improve or challenge the best answer chosen by the question asker; there is a display of thumbs down or thumbs up for each answer, but viewers cannot vote. In April 2014, this was changed to allow for additional answers after a best answer is chosen, but the best answer can never be changed. Also, while "best answers" can be briefly commented upon, the comment is not visible by default and is hence hardly read. (Even the user who posts the question isn't notified, before or after the best answer is picked, about a comment on the question or on the best answer.) If the best answer chosen is wrong or contains problematic information, the only chance to give a better (or correct) answer will be the next time the same question is asked. The older answer will likely get higher priority in search engines. Any new answer will most probably not be seen by any original questioner.
Promotions and events
The official Yahoo! Answers mascot is a cartoon hamster called Yamster. Yamster is a combination, or portmanteau, of the words "Yahoo" and "hamster". The mascot is also used as an avatar for Yahoo! Answers staff.
During beta testing of Yahoo! Answers in 2005, the Director of Product Management would use a Gemmy Kung Fu Hamster to summon employees to meetings. The toy was a battery-operated, dancing, musical plush hamster clothed in a karate uniform. A Yahoo! Answers employee selected a photo of the toy as the staff avatar. A user then questioned the potential trademark/copyright infringement of using such an avatar. At that time, the photo was replaced with the Yahoo! Answers green smiley face. At the beginning of 2006, the green smiley face was replaced by the cartoon Yamster clad in a karate uniform. As of November 2009, the history of Yamster, complete with photos of the toy, was available on the Yahoo! Answers Team Vietnam blog.
Several celebrities and notables have appeared on Yahoo! Answers to ask questions. These users have an "official" badge below their avatar and on their profile page. During the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney posted questions on Yahoo! Answers, in addition to YouTube. In an awareness campaign, "UNICEF Up Close 2007", nine UNICEF ambassadors asked questions. The launch of Answers on Yahoo! India included a question from A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India at that time. Other guests have included international leaders (Queen Rania of Jordan, candidate for United Nations Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor), Nobel Peace Prize laureates (Al Gore, Muhammad Yunus) and other international activists (Bono, Jean-Michel Cousteau), intellectuals (Stephen Hawking, Marilyn vos Savant), and numerous other celebrities.
Yahoo! used comScore statistics in December 2006 to proclaim Yahoo! Answers "the leading Q&A site on the web". Currently Yahoo! Answers is ranked as the second most popular Q&A site on the web by comScore. The slogan "The world's leading Q&A site" has since been adopted by Answers.com.
In 2009, Yahoo! Answers staff claimed 200 million users worldwide and 15 million users visiting daily. Google Trends has reported around 4 million unique visitors (Global) daily. In January 2010, the web analytics website Quantcast reported 24 million active users (US) per month; in November 2015, that had fallen by 77% to 5.6 million. Quantcast traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, January 2010:
- 24,201,619 people per month (US)
- 62,171,200 visits per month (US)
For January 1–30, 2015:
- 11,273,839 people per month (US)
For October 31 – November 29, 2015:
- 5,555,080 people per month (US)
For December 1 – December 30, 2015:
- 4,546,016 people per month (US)
- 26,000,000 unique visitors (users) (US)
- 110,000,000 total visits (US)
Compete Site Analytics traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, December 2009:
- 33,090,163 unique visitors (US)
- 64,928,634 visits (US)
- List of question-and-answer websites
- Ask MetaFilter
- Google Answers
- Q&A software
- Knowledge Search
- LinkedIn Answers
- Stack Exchange
- Wiki Answers
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- Official website
- Answers architect
- Yahoo! Answers Suggestion Board
- Answers API
- Ask Yahoo!, Yahoo!'s former Q&A site, now merged with Answers
- Python wrapper over Answers API
- Introducing the new Yahoo! Answers(Tumblr announcement)