Yahoo Answers is useless, however the web by no means forgets

by akoloy


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Angela Lang/CNET

It’s over. At some level on May 4, Yahoo Answers will be taken offline — placing an finish to one of many weirdest, oldest and least organized communities of crowdsourced questions and solutions. The web site’s seemingly limitless parade of user-submitted queries ranged from intriguing thought-experiments (from the likes of Stephen Hawking, no much less) to the absurdity of somebody asking the neighborhood, “What did my dad just say to me?”

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Why do you assume anyone on the web would know this?


Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley

Yahoo Answers turned infamous as a house for a really particular model of chaos. Some questions became famous memes unto themselves. Others turned requirements on “top ten funniest” Yahoo Answers questions. The neighborhood turned a wealthy mine of fabric for YouTube comedians, even PewDiePie. Famous podcasters used Yahoo Answers as a supply for inspiration too: Dissecting bizarre questions was a regular segment on My Brother, My Brother and Me

Yahoo Answers had a legacy. Just not the one it was designed to have.

What Yahoo Answers was presupposed to be 

When Yahoo launched its question-and-answer platform in 2005, changing into a mainstay of web comedy wasn’t a part of the plan. The firm billed the service as “a place where people can ask each other questions on any topic, and get answers by sharing facts, opinions and personal experiences.” Even so, Yahoo Answers did not exist for its personal sake — it was created to assist bolster Yahoo Search outcomes. 

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Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley

It could be simple to overlook how influential Yahoo as soon as was. It was an enormous firm with social communities, electronic mail, directories and, after all, the largest search engine on the planet. In 2005, nevertheless it was dealing with fierce competitors. The hope was that Yahoo Answers may make the corporate’s search engine higher by providing customers hundreds of thousands of crowdsourced solutions to any query they may have. 

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A tech assist traditional.


Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley

“Long term, Answers has the potential to attract incremental users, increase time spent on the Yahoo! Platform,” Lehman Brothers analyst Douglas Anmuth told Forbes shortly after the service launched, “and create monetization opportunities through additional sponsored links and page views.” 

Yahoo Answers was by no means actually concerning the solutions, which could possibly be why the service was greatest recognized for the questions its customers requested. 

What Yahoo Answers turned

Regardless of what Yahoo Answers was designed to be, it is best recognized for the stunning and ridiculous questions folks requested it. In reality, earlier than information broke of the shutdown, most searches for Yahoo Answers on Google, YouTube and different platforms introduced again lists of absurd and amusing ponderings.

There are dozens of comedy movies mocking Yahoo Answers’ weirdest questions, and teasing these typically too-personal questions will endlessly be part of the service’s legacy. Despite the jokes, the platform truly obtained type of near what it was designed to be. More earnest searches could lead on you to awkward, however harmless questions on rising up and human growth — probably the queries of these too embarrassed to ask their dad and mom. Lots of customers have been searching for family restore ideas and tech assist. 

Some questions have been simply college students making an attempt to get the web to “help” with their homework.

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When you actually did not really feel like doing your individual homework, Yahoo Answers was there.


Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley

Although the platform was devised to reinforce Yahoo’s search engine, the location’s options helped it discover its personal bizarre id as soon as that searchable trove of information turned much less of a precedence for the corporate. Question askers may decide the very best response to any given query, which might assist the individual writing that reply earn factors to stage up in an inside rating system. The factors and stage did not truly do something, but it surely helped create a way of neighborhood.

That sense of neighborhood is likely one of the issues that made Yahoo Answers attention-grabbing. When it launched in late 2005, it debuted alongside lots of right now’s web giants. Facebook and Reddit have been each nonetheless of their infancy, and Twitter was solely months away. Yahoo Answers wasn’t constructed to compete with any of those networks, but it surely crammed some related roles. At a time when customers on-line have been shifting away from conventional message board programs and chat rooms, Yahoo Answers was there — serving as a half-step between the web communities of the late Nineties and the social media empires that have been about to take over the net.

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Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley
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Some Yahoo Answers customers have been simply making an attempt to study rising up.


Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley

It’s one facet of the service that survived to the tip. Browsing Yahoo Answers’ classes in its remaining days nonetheless surfaced loads of customary questions searching for solutions (“Can u write on money,” or “How do I get a grease stain out of concrete”), however you possibly can additionally discover the identical discussions you’d anticipate on Reddit. These vary from new dad and mom asking within the parenting discussion board what folks considered the identify of their little one, or political partisans debating the newest headlines within the politics and information sections. 

Yahoo Answers and the web afterlife

After May 4, the Yahoo question-and-answer service will go the way of GeoCities. There’ll be no official makes an attempt to protect or archive the service. Unless an out of doors group takes motion, Yahoo Answers’ hundreds of thousands of questions — chaotic, hilarious and stylish — can be misplaced to time. 

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Yahoo Answers screenshot by CNET / Sean Buckley

Fortunately, that is the web, the place there’s all the time somebody glad to protect a weird database of horrible spelling and bizarre questions — even when it won’t be value saving. When Yahoo introduced it was shutting the service down, Gizmodo wrote that it created a script that may archive 84 million Yahoo Answers inquiries to the Internet Archive, however admitted that it will take two years to finish the method. Fortunately, a gaggle referred to as Archive Team began a similar project back in 2016

A big portion of Yahoo Answers’ publicly out there questions are already backed up, and the staff has made archiving the remainder their “warrior project” focus for spring 2021. For higher or worse, Yahoo Answers’ weird legacy will be preserved on the Internet Archive

Unfortunately, the archived pages’ search operate does not at the moment work, however at the very least we’ll always have all those MBMBAM segments



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