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Yahoo! Answers

Yahoo! Answers
Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Registration Yes
Available in Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese
Owner Yahoo!
Launched June 28, 2005 (2005-06-28)
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.

Yahoo! Answers was created to replace Ask Yahoo!, Yahoo!'s former Q&A platform which was discontinued in March 2006.[1] 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[2] 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.

The number of poorly formed questions and inaccurate answers has made the site a target of ridicule.[3][4]


  • Site operation 1
  • Level Table 2
  • Badges 3
    • Top Contributor 3.1
    • Staff 3.2
    • Official 3.3
    • Knowledge Partners 3.4
  • Academic studies 4
  • Quality of answers 5
  • Promotions and events 6
    • Yamster 6.1
    • Special guests 6.2
  • Site statistics 7
  • See also 8
  • Further reading 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Site operation

Yahoo! Answers allows any questions that do not violate Yahoo! Answers community guidelines.[5] 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.[6] Chat is explicitly forbidden in the Community Guidelines, although categories like Politics and Religion & Spirituality are mostly opinion.[7] Users may also choose to reveal their Yahoo! Messenger ID on their Answers profile page.

Misuse of Yahoo! Answers is handled by a user moderation system, where users report posts that are in breach of guidelines or the Terms of Service. Posts are removed if they receive sufficient weight of trusted reports (reports from users with a reliable reporting history). Deletion may be appealed: an unsuccessful appeal receives a 10-point penalty; a successful one reinstates the post and reduces the 'trust rating' (reporting power) of the reporter. If a user receives a large number of violations in a relatively short amount of time or a very serious violation, it can cause the abuser's account to be suspended. In extreme, but rare cases (for a Terms of Service violation), the abuser's entire Yahoo! ID will be suddenly deactivated without warning.

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 various internet avatar sites or a user-made graphic uploaded to replace their default Yahoo graphic. Yahoo! Avatars was discontinued in 2012. When answering a question, a user can search Yahoo! or WorldHeritage, 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 pick a best answer for the question after a minimum of one hour. However, comments and answers can still be posted after this time.[8] 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.[9] 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. The voting function, which allowed users to vote for the answer they considered best, was discontinued in April 2014.

In addition to points awarded for activity,[9] Yahoo! Answers staff may also award extra points if they are impressed with a user's contributions.[10] The Yahoo! Answers community manager has stated that "power users" who defend the company should be thanked and rewarded.[11]

Level Table

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
Points 1–249 250–999 1,000–2,499 2,500–4,999 5,000–9,999 10,000–24,999 25,000+
Questions 5 10 15 20 20 20 20
Answers 20 80 120 160 160 160 160
Commentaries 10 20 30 40 40 40 40
Stars 10 100 100 100 100 100 100
Evaluation permission No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Note: All limitations are per day.

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.[12] Before April 2014 users were also able to vote for a best answer if the asker didn't choose one, but this was discontinued.


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.[13] 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.[13] The list of Top contributors is updated every Monday.[13] 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.


Badge is seen under the name staff members of Yahoo! Answers.[14]


This type of badge is found on the name of celebrities (like mentioned above) and government departments like the health department.[14]

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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Quality of answers

Researchers found that questions seeking factual information received few answers and that the knowledge on Yahoo! Answers is not very deep.[7]

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 the large number of dubious questions, such as "How is babby formed? How girl get pragnent? Condom broke, am I pragnent?" [sic], which sparked an Internet meme,[18][19] 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.[20] 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.[21] The number of poorly formed questions and inaccurate answers has made the site a target of ridicule.[3][4] 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.[22] Previously, the community was able to choose the best answer from a line-up of answers, but this option is no longer available. For most of the life of Yahoo! Answers, once the "best answer" was chosen, there was 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. In April 2014, this was changed to allow for additional answers after a best answer is chosen, but the best answer can never be changed. 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. The older answer will likely get higher priority in search engines. Any new answer will most probably not be seen by any original questioner.

Promotions and events


The Yahoo! Answers green smiley.

The official Yahoo! Answers mascot is a cartoon hamster called Yamster. Yamster is a combination, or portmanteau, of the words "Yahoo" and "hamster". The mascot is also used as an avatar for Yahoo! Answers staff.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] As of November 2009, the history of Yamster, complete with photos of the toy, was available on the Yahoo! Answers Team Vietnam blog.[26]

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.[27] In an awareness campaign, "UNICEF Up Close 2007", nine UNICEF ambassadors asked questions.[28][29] The launch of Answers on Yahoo! India included a question from A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India at that time.[30] Other guests have included international leaders (Queen Rania of Jordan,[31] candidate for United Nations Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor[32]), Nobel Peace Prize laureates (Al Gore,[33][34] Muhammad Yunus[35]) and other international activists (Bono,[33] Jean-Michel Cousteau[36]), 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".[37] Currently Yahoo! Answers is ranked as the second most popular Q&A site on the web by comScore.[38][39] The slogan "The world's leading Q&A site" has since been adopted by

Yahoo! Answers staff claim 200 million users worldwide[40] and 15 million users visiting daily.[41] Google Trends reports around 4 million unique visitors (Global) daily.[42] The web analytics website Quantcast reports around 2 million unique visitors (US) daily.[43] 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:[44]

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

Compete Site Analytics traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers, December 2009:[45]

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

Yahoo! Answers represents between 1.03%[46] to 1.7%[47] of Yahoo! traffic.

See also

Further reading

  • Gomes, Lee (July 13, 2006). "Got a question? Yahoo has an answer – kind of". The Wall Street Journal (reprint). 
  • Gomes, Lee (August 23, 2006). "Portals: Success, greed in the new economy of web point payouts". The Wall Street Journal (reprint). 


  1. ^ Schwartz, Barry (December 13, 2006). "Yahoo Answers Birthday: One Year Old". Search Engine Land. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Yahoo! Chiebukuro Website". Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Raphael, J. R. (December 17, 2009). "The 20 Dumbest Questions on Yahoo Answers". PC World. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Ahmed, Murad (January 3, 2009). "Ask a silly question...". The Times (London). Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Community guidelines". Yahoo! Answers. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Yahoo! Terms of Service". Yahoo! Terms. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 9) Content submitted or made available for inclusion on the Yahoo! Services: Yahoo! does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Yahoo! Services. However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable 
  7. ^ a b Moore, Nicole Casal (April 21, 2008). "Users of Yahoo Answers seek advice, opinion, expertise". University of Michigan News Service (Ann Arbor, Michigan). Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  8. ^ "What if my question doesn't receive any answers?". Yahoo! Help. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Yahoo! Answers – Point System". Yahoo! Answers. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ "A person in my category has -9,000 points this week. (Yes, that's a minus.) Someone else has -22% Best Answers. (Also a minus)". Yahoo! Answers Suggestion Board. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2012. Sometimes when we [Yahoo!Answers employees] are impressed with a user's answer quality or overall contribution to make Answers a better place, we award extra points as a mark of encouragement. 
  11. ^ "Managing the Mob: What to do when things go wrong". Socialtext. Archived from the original on November 22, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Limitations on Level 5, 6 and 7 Users". Yahoo! Answers Blog. April 18, 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c "What is a Top Contributor?". Yahoo! Answers. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c "What do the different badges on Yahoo! Answers mean?". Yahoo!Answers. December 7, 2009. Archived from the original on November 12, 2010. 
  15. ^ 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.  
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ Kim, S.; 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 (4): 716.  
  18. ^  
  19. ^ Modine, Austin (June 9, 2009). "Wolfram Alpha to venture beyond boron nucleus". The Register. Southport, England: Situation Publishing. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  20. ^ Liu, Yandong; Agichtein, Eugene (2008). "On the Evolution of the Yahoo! Answers QA Community" (PDF). 
  21. ^ Liebenluft, Jacob (December 7, 2007). "A Librarian's Worst Nightmare: Yahoo! Answers, where 120 million users can be wrong.". Slate. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  22. ^ Angwin, Julia (December 23, 2008). "Looking for a Few Good Answers Online". WSJ. 
  23. ^ "Yahoo! Answers Team's Profile". Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  24. ^ "MyThings – View Item: KungFu Hamster". Archived from the original on November 10, 2009. 
  25. ^ "What is the history of the Yahoo! Answers Hamster?". Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Y! Answers _ Yamster". Archived from the original on November 16, 2009. 
  27. ^ Mills, Elinor (April 11, 2007). "Presidential candidates to appear on YouTube". CNET News. Retrieved April 10, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Yahoo Answers Unicef And Widgets Vista". WebProNews. January 30, 2007. Retrieved April 10, 2009. 
  29. ^ "UNICEF Up Close 2007". 2007. Retrieved April 10, 2009. 
  30. ^ "`Yahoo! Answers' launched". The Hindu Business Line. The Hindu Group. January 14, 2007. Retrieved April 10, 2009. 
  31. ^ "Queen Rania of Jordan's Activity – Yahoo! Answers". Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Shashi Tharoor's Activity – Yahoo! Answers". February 1, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  33. ^ a b c Sample, Ian (July 8, 2006). "Hawking turns to Yahoo for answers to his big question". The Guardian. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  34. ^ a b Herman, Michele (June 23, 2006). "Answer Al Gore's Question, Win a Prius". Extra Helping. School Library Journal. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  35. ^ "How can you help to create a poverty-free world? – Yahoo! Answers". December 6, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Jean-Michel Cousteau's Activity – Yahoo! Answers". June 7, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Yahoo! Answers Celebrates One Year of Knowledge and Success as Poll Reveals Use and Influence of Q&A Sites" (Press release). Business Wire. December 13, 2006. Archived from the original on November 15, 2009. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  38. ^ "Who's Scorched Up comScore In September, You Ask?". October 15, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  39. ^ " Announces September comScore Rank of No. 13, up from No. 18 in August" (Press release). Business Wire. October 15, 2009. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Yahoo! Answers hits 200 million visitors – December 14, 2009". December 14, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Did you know? – October 5, 2009". October 5, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Google Trends for Yahoo! Answers". Google. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Quantcast profile for Yahoo! Answers". Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Site profile for Yahoo! Answers". Google. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  45. ^ "Site Profile for". Site Analytics. October 26, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  46. ^ Hopkins, Heather (March 5, 2009). "Yahoo! Mail More than One Third of Yahoo! Traffic". Experian Hitwise blogs. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  47. ^ " site info". Retrieved August 22, 2012. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Answers architect
  • Yahoo! Answers Suggestion Board
  • Answers API
  • Ask Yahoo!, Yahoo!'s former Q&A site, now merged with Answers
  • Python wrapper over Answers API
  • Introducing the new Yahoo! Answers(Tumblr announcement)
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