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Yahoo Answers: Thanks… and No Thanks

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.

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Comments to: Yahoo Answers: Thanks… and No Thanks
  • Avatar
    April 4, 2007

    At least someone from Yahoo Answers has tried to address your concerns. My concerns of incorrect if not dangerous advice being given out in the fish category goes un addressed as Yahoo does not care.
    Here is a terrible best answer from a few days ago (by a “top contributor” too): ” (DO NOT USE start right or stress coat in your marine tank) AquaNova + is a good dechlor and it also adds back trace minerals to the water.”
    My comment:
    There is absolutely no scientific evidence to back this statement as all three products add electrolytes such as such as sodium, magnesium, and chloride.

  • Hi David,
    Thanks for responding to our clarifications and writing this follow-up post. We realize that it’s easy to lose track of the questions you’ve posted on Answers, so before a question expires, we send an email reminding you to come back to either put the question to a vote, choose a best answer, or if there are no answers, extend the open period for another four days. Removing questions that have no best answer chosen, or have no answer at all, helps keep the site fresh. Also, the upside of reposting a question that was deleted for not having an answer is that it will go back to the top of the heap, where new eyes are more likely to see it, increasing the chance that it will get answered the second time around.

  • Avatar
    March 13, 2009

    a/o this date,,have had answers deleted/vio,appealed them to yahoo central,no answer,,,qs or a’s should not have cuss words,ca ca’po poo,racial epithets,leave them be,,,,state grounds for your objection,,,,the delete shows up in your email, to your url,,,the content of your post is already on record,the whole should be shown,and yahoo should answer and act,,,,,,,,,,,and if not a timely decision,the q or a restored,,,as things are,it is not a free forum


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