First, a hearty thanks to Katie from Yahoo Answers for taking the time to respond to my blog post challenging Yahoo Answers on its question removal policies. While consumer perception may be all that matters, my perception was off in terms of any kind of censorship or otherwise nefarious policies.
Still, I find Yahoo’s policy of removing questions, well, questionable, for several reasons:
1) I wanted to ask my question elsewhere. I couldn’t readily do so, since Yahoo Answers deleted my question.
2) The question was deleted after a few days. That might be enough time to determine there wasn’t much interest from its community in answering it, but that’s not enough time for me to go back and try to rework the question so it could get an answer. Additionally, some questions might not require an immediate response, and given how well optimized Yahoo Answers is for search engines (results show up prominently in Google at least as high as they do in Yahoo), people might provide great answers down the road.
3) Some of the questions that were removed had answers, but I didn’t think any were the best. That’s just my opinion though. The question and the half-baked answers that were included might be valuable to someone else, and now no one else can be the judge. Additionally, I might have just gotten lazy and forgotten to check back to rate a post. Because of that, the baby’s out with the bathwater.
4) Even the removed questions gain search visibility. Try the following search in Google: [ slingbox "time warner cable" ambit ] (Ambit’s the name of the wireless modem I had trouble with). My question’s the top result – only of 58 results, and I’m sure there aren’t many searches for it, but it’s perfectly targeted to anyone with a similar issue as mine. This is also how I managed to find the text of my question so I could repost it, and in this case, that was crucial for me, as the text referred to a model number that I couldn’t easily remember. Interestingly, the question isn’t archived by Yahoo – just the page where I asked the question is indexed.
Those are four good reasons for Yahoo Answers to change its policy. The one answer I can fathom Yahoo providing for its own policy as it keeps the quality of Yahoo Answers high by deleting the unanswered and unanswerable questions. Still, if a question has few responses, that’s useful information too for seekers – it’s an indication that, at least based on when and how the question was asked, nothing came of it, and someone looking to ask the same question should change course. Meanwhile, dead ends of deleted questions only does a disservice to Yahoo Answers visitors.