Yahoo! Answers

Yahoo! Answers
Yahoo! Answers
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Collaboration
Registration Yes
Available language(s) Mandarin Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese
Owner Yahoo!
Created by Yahoo!
Launched June 28, 2005
Current status Active

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[1] and as Yahoo! Knowledge in Korea, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong.[citation needed] 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.[2]

Yahoo! Answers is the second most popular Q&A site in the US after, according to comScore.[3]


Site operation

Any question is allowed on Yahoo! Answers, except ones that violate the Yahoo! Answers community guidelines.[4] 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.[5] Chat is explicitly forbidden in the Community Guidelines, although categories like Politics and Religion & Spirituality are mostly opinion.[6] 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 one hour or extend it for a period of up to eight days.[7] 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.[8] 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.

In addition to points awarded for activity,[8] 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]

Level Table*

Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
Points 0 1-249 250-999 1,000-2,499 2,500-4,999 5,000-9,999 10,000-24,999 25,000+
Questions 0 5 10 15 20 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Answers 1** 20 40 60 80 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Commentaries 0 10 20 30 40 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Stars 0 10 100 100 100 100 100 100
Evaluation permission No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vote 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 200
* All limitations are of one day.
** If a level 0 user makes an answer, the level jumps instantly to level 1.


Top Contributor

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.[11] 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.[11] The list of Top contributors is updated every Monday.[11] 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[citation needed] 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.[12]


This type of badge is found on the name of celebrities (like mentioned above) and government departments like the health department.[12]

Knowledge Partners

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.

Academic studies

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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]



The site has been criticized as being more about social networking than providing accurate information.[16] Researchers found that questions seeking factual information received few answers and that the knowledge on Yahoo! Answers is not very deep.[6]

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? How girl get pragnent? [sic]", which sparked an Internet meme,[17][18] 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.[19] 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.[20] The number of poorly-formed questions and inaccurate answers has made the site a target of ridicule.[21][22] 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.[23][24] Once the "best answer" is chosen, there's no way to add more answers, nor to improve or challenge existing answers; there is a display of thumbs down or thumbs up for each answer, but viewers cannot vote. Also, while 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 about an incoming comment to his/her posted question). The only chance to give a better (or correct) answer is the next time the same question is asked, but the older answer will still likely get higher priority in search engines. And any new answer will most probably therefore be 'lost' on any original questioner.


Some privacy concerns have been raised regarding embarrassing or private information. Users can not delete their accounts. A user can only "deactivate" an account but the profile, questions, and answers remain visible and searchable. Prior to 2010, a new user's default privacy setting would enable any other user to send an IM or contact him or her via inline mailing system. Post 2010, the default privacy settings were such that a new user can only contact another user via Yahoo! Pulse (unless the user has activated communication via the IM and email option in the settings page).[citation needed]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] As of November 2009, the history of Yamster, complete with photos of the toy, was available on the Yahoo! Answers Team Vietnam blog.[28]

Answers on the Street

Beginning July 2, 2010, 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.[29] In an awareness campaign, "UNICEF Up Close 2007", nine UNICEF ambassadors asked questions.[30][31] The launch of Answers on Yahoo! India included a question from A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India at that time.[32] 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,[33][34] Muhammad Yunus [3]) and other international activists (Bono,[33] Jean-Michel Cousteau [4]), intellectuals (Stephen Hawking,[33] Marilyn vos Savant[34]), 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".[35] Currently Yahoo! Answers is ranked as the second most popular Q&A site on the web by comScore.[3][36] The slogan "The world's leading Q&A site" has since been adopted by Yahoo! Answers staff claim 200 million users worldwide[37] and 15 million users visiting daily.[38] Google Trends reports around 4 million unique visitors (Global) daily.[39] The web analytics website Quantcast reports around 2 million unique visitors (US) daily.[40] 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:[41]

  • 26,000,000 unique visitors (users) (US)
  • 110,000,000 total visits (US)

Compete Site Analytics traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, December 2009:[42]

  • 33,090,163 unique visitors (US)
  • 64,928,634 visits (US)

Yahoo! Answers represents between 1.03%[43] to 1.7%[44] of Yahoo! traffic.

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ "Yahoo! Chiebukuro Website". 
  2. ^ "Yahoo Answers Birthday: One Year Old". 
  3. ^ a b "Who’s Scorched Up comScore In September, You Ask?". October 15, 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  4. ^ Community guidelines
  5. ^ What is the copyright status of responses submitted to Yahoo! Answers? Can good info be moved to Wikipedia? from Yahoo! Answers.
  6. ^ a b Users of Yahoo Answers seek advice, opinion, expertise - April 21, 2008
  7. ^ "Yahoo! Answers Help". 
  8. ^ a b "Yahoo! Answers - Point System". 
  9. ^ "Yahoo! Answers Suggestion Board". Archived from the original on 2010-01-15. 
  10. ^ "Managing the Mob: What to do when things go wrong". Archived from the original on 2009-11-22. 
  11. ^ a b c "What is a Top Contributor?". 
  12. ^ a b "What do the different badges on Yahoo! Answers mean?". December 7, 2009.;_ylt=Al2lQWwdHYk5Km6p3WofdMa34CR4. 
  13. ^ Gazan,R. et al (2006). "Specialists and Synthesists in a Question Answering Community". 69th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST),Austin (US),3–8 November 2006. Richard B. Hill. Retrieved Aug 2011. 
  14. ^ Adamic,L. et al (2008). "Knowledge Sharing and Yahoo Answers: Everyone Knows Something". WWW 2008 / Refereed Track: Social Networks & Web 2.0 -Analysis of Social Networks & Online Interaction. Retrieved Aug 2011. 
  15. ^ Kim, S. and Oh, S. (2009). "Users' relevance criteria for evaluating answers in a social Q&A site". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60: 716–727 (Wiley). doi:10.1002/asi.21026. 
  16. ^ Leibenluft, Jacob (2007-12-07). "A Librarian's Worst Nightmare: Yahoo! Answers, where 120 million users can be wrong.". Slate. 
  17. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (July 20, 2008). "Stet". ISSN 0028-7822. Retrieved November 23, 2010 
  18. ^ Modine, Austin (June 9, 2009). "Wolfram Alpha to venture beyond boron nucleus". The Register. Southport, England: Situation Publishing. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  19. ^ Liu, Yandong; Agichtein, Eugene (2008). "On the Evolution of the Yahoo! Answers QA Community". 
  20. ^ Jacob Liebenluft (7 December 2007). "A Librarian's Worst Nightmare: Yahoo! Answers, where 120 million users can be wrong.". Slate. Retrieved 23 August 2011 
  21. ^ J. R. Raphael (December 17, 2009). "The 20 Dumbest Questions on Yahoo Answers". PC World. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  22. ^ Ahmed, Murad (January 3, 2009). "Ask a silly question...". The Times (London). Retrieved May 24, 2010 
  23. ^ Angwin, Julia (2008-12-23). "Looking for a Few Good Answers Online". WSJ. 
  24. ^ Product updates – May 2006 - May 7, 2006
  25. ^ Yahoo! Answers Team's Profile
  26. ^ "MyThings - View Item: KungFu Hamster". Archived from the original on 2009-11-10. 
  27. ^ What is the history of the Yahoo! Answers Hamster?
  28. ^ "Y! Answers _ Yamster". Archived from the original on 2009-11-16. 
  29. ^ Mills, Elinor (April 11, 2007). "Presidential candidates to appear on YouTube". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  30. ^ "Yahoo Answers Unicef And Widgets Vista". WebProNews. January 30, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  31. ^ "UNICEF Up Close 2007". 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  32. ^ "`Yahoo! Answers' launched". The Hindu Business Line. The Hindu Group. January 14, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  33. ^ a b c Ian Sample (July 8, 2006). "Hawking turns to Yahoo for answers to his big question". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  34. ^ a b Michele Herman (June 23, 2006). "Answer Al Gore's Question, Win a Prius". Extra Helping. School Library Journal. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  35. ^ "Yahoo! Answers Celebrates One Year of Knowledge and Success as Poll Reveals Use and Influence of Q&A Sites" (Press release). Business Wire. 13 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2009-11-15. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  36. ^ " Announces September comScore Rank of #13, up from #18 in August" (Press release). Business Wire. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  37. ^ Yahoo! Answers hits 200 million visitors - December 14, 2009
  38. ^ Did you know? - October 5, 2009
  39. ^ Google Trends for Yahoo! Answers
  40. ^ Quantcast profile for Yahoo! Answers
  41. ^ Site profile for Yahoo! Answers
  42. ^ Site Profile for
  43. ^ Yahoo! Mail More than One Third of Yahoo! Traffic - March 05, 2009
  44. ^ " site info". 

External links

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