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Yahoo Answers

We chatted with Ofer Shaked and Caterina Fake at Yahoo today about yet another service the company rolled out. This one is called Yahoo Answers. It's not to be confused with Google Answers, which allows people to ask a pool of experts to research questions for them for a price.

Yahoo Answers is all about leveraging the collective knowledge of the Yahoo community. Ask any question - Can I test my eyesight without going to the doctor - and hope the community chimes in with an answer. Use it for off-the-wall questions or for help finding local services, etc. There are really no limits.

It's like Judy's Book, the Berkeley Parents Network, Google Answers and a message board all rolled into one.

"Let's say I'm interested in pets and travel, and I don't know where the forums and blogs are, and I want to have a place where I can ask questions,'' Shaked said. "We think of this as an extension of the algorithmic web search, and it builds on our social search initiatives.''

There's some reputation management built into the system, as well. Users get points every time they ask or answer questions. Points elevate their stature in the system, lend their posts credibility. They also, to some degree, give them more access to the service. Rookies, for example, can't dive in and bombard the service with questions or answers. The service will automatically throttle their number of posts.

No doubt there'll be a lot of white noise on the Answers boards. And Yahoo will likely need to tweak the category structure as time goes on. Shaked says Yahoo is looking at letting posters tag their questions.

"We're actively looking at making this much more flexible,'' he said.

UPDATE: Per usual, Gary Price breaks down the offering in great detail.

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From: IP Democracy
Yahoo Answers and Revolution's Wondir
Excerpt: At Search Engine Watch, Gary Price provides a good overview of Yahoo Answers, a “new social networking/online community/search/question answering service” that “allows any registered Yahoo user to ask just about any question and hopef...
Tracked: December 8, 2005 5:03 PM


Reputation management will have to be about so much more than the number of questions a user answers, or how long they've been online. What's to guarantee the answer is not spam, harmful or posted by someone who just likes the sound of their own fingers clattering across the keyboard?

Will on December 8, 2005 9:16 AM
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For recommendations on purchases, still nothing like epinions.com. The community there is awesome and, like the EBay community, it lives off feedback from others. Epinions has a business model that rewards members posting reviews with cash, though right now the reward is very small amounts per review read by members and non-members.

Raul Lopez on December 8, 2005 9:30 AM
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Will, we failed to mention that users will be able to rate answers, which might get at some of the issues you raised.

Michael Bazeley on December 8, 2005 10:05 AM
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The rating system is the key to success. I started the first large scale Q&A site in the 90's, allexperts.com (now owned by the NY Times), and found the user-driven rating system invaluable.

Steve Gordon on December 13, 2005 5:47 PM
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crystal on January 4, 2006 12:42 PM
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I think the key is the point for yahoo answers system as that is whats one of my main motivations in answering questions in trying to get to the next level.

George on May 9, 2006 1:11 AM
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