Yahoo! Answers

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Yahoo! Answers
Commercial? Yes</td></tr>
Type of site Collaboration</td></tr>
Registration Yes</td></tr>
Available language(s) English, Chinese, French, German, Indonesia, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese</td></tr>
Owner Yahoo!</td></tr>
Created by Yahoo!</td></tr>
Launched July 5, 2005</td></tr>
Current status Active</td></tr>

</table> Yahoo! Answers is a community-driven question-and-answer (Q&A) site launched by Yahoo! on July 5, 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! Knowledge in Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, 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!, their former Q&A platform which was discontinued in March 2006.[1]

Yahoo! Answers is the second most popular Q&A site on the internet after, according to comScore.[2]


Site operation

Any question is allowed on Yahoo! Answers, except ones that violate the Yahoo! Answers community guidelines.[3] To encourage good answers, helpful participants are occasionally featured on the Yahoo! Answers Blog. Though the service itself is free, the content of answers are owned by the respective users — while Yahoo! maintains a non-exclusive royalty-free worldwide right to publish the information.[4] Chat is explicitly forbidden in the Community Guidelines, although categories like politics and religion/spirituality are mostly chat.[5] Users may also choose to reveal their Yahoo! Messenger ID on their Answers profile page.

In order 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 search for research.

Questions are initially open to answers for four days. However, the asker can choose to close the question after a minimum of four hours or extend it for a period of up to eight days.[6] 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.[7] Aside from this, 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 side is that it encourages people to answer questions even when they do not have a suitable answer to give, in order 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. On the other hand, many people ask questions not to gain more knowledge.

The point system encourages users to answer as many questions as they possibly can, up to their daily limit. Once a user shows that they are knowledgeable within a specific category they may receive an orange 'badge' under the name of their avatar naming them a "Top Contributor". The user can then lose this badge if they do not maintain their level and quality of participation.[8] 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.

Level / points table

  1. 1–249
  2. 250–999
  3. 1,000–2,499
  4. 2,500–4,999
  5. 5,000–9,999
  6. 10,000–24,999
  7. 25,000+

In addition to points awarded for activity,[7] Yahoo! Answers staff may also award extra points if they are impressed with a user's contributions.[9] The Yahoo! Answers community manager has stated that 'power users' who defend the company should be thanked and rewarded.[10]


Low quality

The site has been criticized as being more about social networking than providing accurate information.[11] Researchers found that questions seeking factual information received few answers and that the knowledge on Yahoo! Answers is not very deep.[5]

Even though members can be academic experts and researchers, Yahoo! Answers' target group and majority is primarily the mainstream; hence, it has been criticized for both its high quantity of dubious questions such as "How is babby formed?" (which sparked an internet meme) and "How to download some water?" and the reliability, validity, and relevance of its answers. A 2008 study found Yahoo! Answers is suboptimal for questions requiring factual answers and that the quality decreases as the number of users increases.[12]

Due to the large amount of questions of low intellect,[13] the site has been the target of much online ridicule.[14]

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.[15]


Some privacy concerns have been raised regarding embarrassing or private information.

Users are unable to delete questions or answers once a best answer has been selected and users can't delete their account. A user can only "deactivate" an account but the profile, questions, and answers remain visible and searchable. [16]

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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] As of November 2009, the history of Yamster, complete with photos of the toy, was available on the Yahoo! Answers Team Vietnam blog.[4]

Answers On The Street

Beginning July 2, 2007, Yahoo! Answers began featuring weekly video segments called "Yahoo! Answers On The Street." Hosted by J. Keith van Straaten, the 3-4 minute videos draw on questions from the Answers community and mix together expert interviews with comedic man-on-the-street pieces. A new episode is posted every Monday, with previous episodes archived.

Special guests

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.[5] In an awareness campaign, "UNICEF Up Close 2007", nine UNICEF ambassadors asked questions.[6][7] The launch of Answers on Yahoo! India included a question from A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India at that time.[8] Other guests have included international leaders (Queen Rania of Jordan [1], candidate for United Nations Secretary-General, Shashi Tharoor [2]), Nobel Peace Prize laureates (Al Gore[9][10], Muhammad Yunus [3]) and other international activists (Bono[9], Jean-Michel Cousteau [4]), intellectuals (Stephen Hawking[9], Marilyn vos Savant[10]), and numerous other celebrities.

Site statistics

Yahoo! used comScore statistics in December 2006 to proclaim Yahoo! Answers "the leading Q&A site on the web".[11] Currently Yahoo! Answers is ranked as the second most popular Q&A site on the web by comScore.[12][13] The slogan "The world's leading Q&A site" has since been adopted by

Yahoo! Answers staff claim 200 million users worldwide[14] and 15 million users visiting daily.[15] Google Trends reports around 4 million unique visitors (Global) daily.[16] The web analytics website Quantcast reports around 2 million unique visitors (US) daily.[17]

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:[18]

  • 26,000,000 Unique visitors (users) (US)
  • 110,000,000 Total visits (US)

Compete Site Analytics traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, December 2009:[19]

  • 33,090,163 Unique Visitors (US)
  • 64,928,634 Visits (US)

Yahoo! Answers represents between 1.03%[20] to 1.7%[21] of Yahoo! traffic.

Further reading

See also


  1. Yahoo! Answers Team's Profile
  2. "MyThings - View Item: KungFu Hamster". Archived from the original on 2009-11-10. 
  3. What is the history of the Yahoo! Answers Hamster?
  4. "Y! Answers _ Yamster". Archived from the original on 2009-11-16. 
  5. Mills, Elinor (April 11, 2007). "Presidential candidates to appear on YouTube". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  6. "Yahoo Answers Unicef And Widgets Vista". WebProNews. January 30, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  7. "UNICEF Up Close 2007". 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  8. "`Yahoo! Answers' launched". The Hindu Business Line. The Hindu Group. January 14, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Ian Sample (July 8, 2006). "Hawking turns to Yahoo for answers to his big question". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Michele Herman (June 23, 2006). "Answer Al Gore's Question, Win a Prius". Extra Helping. School Library Journal. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  11. Business Wire (13 December 2006). "Yahoo! Answers Celebrates One Year of Knowledge and Success as Poll Reveals Use and Influence of Q&A Sites". Press release. Archived from the original on 2009-11-15. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  12. Business Wire (15 October 2009). " Announces September comScore Rank of #13, up from #18 in August". Press release. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named TechCrunch
  14. Yahoo! Answers hits 200 million visitors - December 14, 2009
  15. Did you know? - October 5, 2009
  16. Google Trends for Yahoo! Answers
  17. Quantcast profile for Yahoo! Answers
  18. Site profile for Yahoo! Answers
  19. Site Profile for
  20. Yahoo! Mail More than One Third of Yahoo! Traffic - March 05, 2009
  21. Site Info

External links

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