|Type of site||Collaboration|
|Available language(s)||Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese|
|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 launched by Yahoo! on June 28, 2005 that allows users to both submit questions to be answered and answer questions asked by other users. 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 was created to replace Ask Yahoo!, Yahoo!'s former Q&A platform which was discontinued in March 2006.
Yahoo! Answers allows any question that does 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.
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 Yahoo! Avatars or an uploaded picture. When answering a question, a user can perform a 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 close the question after a minimum of one hour or extend it for a period of up to eight days. 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 or voted on by the community. Contributors often vote for their own answer regardless of its quality or appropriateness. At the same time, many questions are posed by the asker without any real desire to gain knowledge. 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: 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.
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.
This badge is seen under the name staff members of Yahoo! Answers.
This type of badge is found on the name of celebrities (like mentioned above) and government departments like the health department.
These badges are found under the name of the companies or organizations who share their personal knowledge and experience with the members of Yahoo! Answers.
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
Researchers found that questions seeking factual information received few answers and that the knowledge on Yahoo! Answers is not very deep.
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 its high quantity of dubious questions, such as "How is babby formed?" or "How girl get pragnent? [sic]", which sparked an Internet meme, 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. It only allows the user community to choose the best answer from a line-up of answers. Once the "best answer" is chosen, there's 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. 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, but the older answer will still likely get higher priority in search engines. Any new answer will most probably not be seen by any original questioner.[original research?]
Promotions and events
The official Yahoo! Answers mascot is a cartoon hamster called "Yamster". Yamster is a combination, or portmanteau, of the words Yahoo!, Answers, 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[update], 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. Yahoo! Answers staff claim 200 million users worldwide and 15 million users visiting daily. Google Trends reports around 4 million unique visitors (Global) daily. The web analytics website Quantcast reports around 2 million unique visitors (US) daily. Quantcast traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, January 2010:
- 24,201,619 people per month (US)
- 62,171,200 visits per month (US)
Google Ad Planner traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, December 2009:
- 26,000,000 unique visitors (users) (US)
- 110,000,000 total visits (US)
- 33,090,163 unique visitors (US)
- 64,928,634 visits (US)
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- List of question-and-answer websites
- Ask MetaFilter
- Google Answers
- Knowledge Search
- LinkedIn Answers
- Stack Exchange
- Wiki Answers
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- Official website
- Seen Jeem
- Yahoo! Answers Suggestion Board
- Answers API
- Ask Yahoo!, Yahoo!'s former Q&A site, now merged with Answers
- Python wrapper over Answers API