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How Can This Possibly Be the End of Yahoo Answers????
In middle school, Alex Fong would spend 15 hours a week on Yahoo Answers , helping strangers sort through their aquarium conundrums. He answered questions like: “Why are my fish sick?” “What can I do with this 10-gallon tank?” “What fish can live together?” To address the tougher questions, he poured over aquarium books. He tried to make his answers detailed and long. After a month of posting, he earned the “top contributor” designation—with 477 points and a 79 percent best answer rate. “I saw a lot of people who had questions that were valid, that I would have had as a beginner too. So I wanted to help them,” Fong says. “I felt bad for people, honestly. They were asking for help. And they weren’t getting it.” So Fong joined the ranks of millions just like him and took it upon himself to bring clarity to the clueless.
And now, it seems, clueless is just how many will have to remain. This week, Yahoo Answers announced that it is shutting down its operations. Beginning April 20, people won’t be able to post any more questions or answers. Then on May 4, Yahoo Answers will be rendered completely extinct.
Yahoo Answers launched in 2005 and quickly ascended to internet stardom. Chirag Shah , a professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Washington thinks that, by 2008, Yahoo Answers was not only the biggest online question and answering service, but actually the biggest website on the internet.
That’s the year Shah began to study the site in an attempt to understand people’s motivation for using it. Why would millions of people rather post on Yahoo Answers—and wait days for a non-fact checked response to materialize—instead of just typing a question into Google and getting an answer within seconds? The appeal, he discovered, is manifold. Obviously there’s the entertainment value—a simple scroll will surface many a hilarious and outrageous post. “Is it illegal to kill an ant????????” “Do you think humans will ever walk on the sun?” “What did my dad just say to me?” But mostly, the popularity of Yahoo Answers stemmed from its humanity and community.
People posted on the site for two main reasons: confirmation and social support. The fact that there were other people out there answering your question mattered way more than the accuracy of the answer itself, Shah explains. “The best answers weren’t necessarily the content-quality best, but they were the ones that connected with the question and the asker,” Shah says. “For a lot of these things, people just want the human element. To see that there are other people facing the same things or going through the same issues.”
Although other question-and-answering services exist, like WikiAnswers (which Shah says is good for fact-based questions) and Quora (where experts answer questions), Yahoo Answers was singular in the way it cultivated a chorus of diverse opinions and responses. Fong says he would see the same top contributors answering the questions and felt a sort of kinship with them. He also felt a responsibility towards the askers of Yahoo Answers—a wider, more estranged network—and aimed to make sure that they were receiving the right information. If he saw a wrong answer, he would write a counterpoint to it. Shah noticed this pattern of flagging misinformation among top contributors. “People at the highest level almost become moderators of this community. They would feel that it’s their community and they have to take care of it,” Shah says.
The loyalty of top contributors stemmed from the sense of accomplishment they feel on the site. Shah says that Yahoo Answers had a point system that kept users hooked. The more questions answered, the more points received—providing psychological incentive to keep going and earn the “top contributor” badge. Fong echoed that the gamification of Yahoo Answers stoked his devotion to the site—and prevented him from using WikiAnswers or any other service. “It was like a game, but none of the rules were written down.”
Fong isn’t even quite sure how he became a top contributor—he thinks it’s because he tried to pick the unpopular questions, so his answer would be more readily voted the “best answer.” There weren’t many perks to his title, but he did notice that once he snagged the badge, his answers would be filtered to the top on a post—much like the comments of verified users on Twitter or Instagram.
And sites like Twitter and Instagram are the very places that caused the answer service’s decline. Shah says he felt like the site lost its standing around 2011, when social media services were growing in fame. Fong’s posting waned in mid-high school, and now Twitter has replaced Yahoo Answers for him. It provides a similar freedom to post, comment, or ask anything. Others seem to have been feeling similarly for a while now too—many posts on Yahoo Answers are from “a decade ago,” he notes.
But even if much of Yahoo Answers was long ago rendered obsolete—replaced by more modern social media technology—people are still mourning its loss. Some are even comparing the site’s death to the burning of the Library of Alexandria. It’s the only place on the internet, Shah explained, where the misspelled , imperfect questions were the ones rewarded with more answers. “The human touch was very much of a selling point to people,” Shah says, “And so I think we are definitely losing a great resource.”
Yahoo Answers says that users who want to preserve their posts will be able to download and keep their personal archive of questions and answers. Since hearing of the impending shutdown, Fong has taken some screenshots of his old posts and profile. “I definitely feel nostalgic because that was a long position of my growing up.” He says looking back at his Yahoo Answers phase, he even feels shocked at himself: “Wow, I was so motivated that I went on Yahoo Answers and spent time answering questions. It kind of warms my heart. That was a part of my life. I am sad to see it go.”
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate , New America , and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.
Insight: Saying goodbye to Yahoo Answers
'the legacy yahoo answers left was one of chaos and confusion, but i lived for the incredibly specific kind of help that can be difficult to find elsewhere'.
“The often frequented site for jokes, memes, trolls and occasionally, a real helpful answer.” Illustration published on Monday, Apr. 19, 2021.
On May 4, Yahoo Answers will be shutting down and deleting its archives, joining the ranks of Limewire and MySpace – other casualties of the internet age.
I'll be the first to admit I will miss the "knowledge-sharing platform," which launched in 2005 and has become well known for its absurd, yet occasionally helpful questions and answers.
For me, there was nothing that couldn't be solved under the site's comforting glow of white and purple. No matter how bored or confused I was, Yahoo Answers had a solution.
It feels odd to say, but strangers online provided me with some of my favorite content on the internet over the years. Despite users' potential real-life worries, I loved seeing them flock in crisis to Yahoo Answers, desperately trying to figure out if they were pregnant, or as some wrote "gregnant” and "pregante."
The impact of this website was truly monumental — for many, it was a source for homework and life advice, healthy debate and memes. The site's reputation is chaotic to say the least, but its anonymity made it a judgment-free zone.
Over the years, the internet liked to laugh at the digital wanderers who found solace on Yahoo Answers.
But nothing was too ridiculous to ask because chances are, it had already been asked. If you wanted to know whether or not to invest in cryptocurrency or if the Queen of England can remarry, someone on Yahoo Answers had your back.
For some, Yahoo Answers was a haven for like-minded students to communicate with each other on difficult topics for various academic subjects.
Yoga Sastriawan, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, said he was sad to see a community that took the same classes as he does disappear — a community that has helped him immensely throughout his major. He said the benefit of Yahoo Answers was that he could get specific help on concepts and equations, rather than unethically sourcing homework answers from platforms such as Chegg.
Aside from school-based questions, the website specialized in answers to anything, no matter how unique.
rip yahoo answers, the only place on earth where I've seen King Arthur referenced as a Shrek 3 character pic.twitter.com/7yj2jkUOEH — Red Bard (Kennedy) (@RedBardIsCool) April 12, 2021
Divya Ganesan, a freshman studying biomedical engineering, said she will miss the "the security blanket" of Yahoo Answers. She said although she knows other platforms have a Q&A format to ask questions, remaining anonymous was helpful.
In its youth, Yahoo Answers was a treasure trove of information.
Whenever I was seeking advice, there was without a doubt someone in my exact situation seeking the same answer. And from that one query, I would be led down a rabbit hole that I had no business being invested in.
I could have been looking to see why My Chemical Romance had broken up, and an hour later I would end up on questions for parenting advice. This website fostered sheer curiosity inside and encouraged my need to leave no stone unturned.
Now, if I need to know something, I will not be happy until I’ve found an answer. And I thank Yahoo Answers for my persistence.
Yahoo Answers could answer everything, and once it had done that, there would be another debate, another question and another hyper-specific situation in need of a solution. Louis Moon, a freshman studying biomedical engineering, said while some of this information can be found elsewhere, the site's accessibility was one of its strengths.
“For (Yahoo Answers), to get rid of a whole forum is kind of sad to see because it’s almost like burning down the Library of Alexandria in a way — it’s a lot of information just gone now,” Moon said.
Yahoo made its mark in making the internet more accessible, but after 15 years, its Q&A format has lost its steam.
Now, even having a Yahoo email address seems old-fashioned. While Yahoo Answers may no longer be in vogue, I can say with 100% certainty I will miss this beautiful mess of a website.
The legacy Yahoo Answers left was one of chaos and confusion, but I lived for the incredibly specific kind of help that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
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Sophia Balasubramanian currently serves as the Diversity Officer for the State Press. She previously worked on the Echo as an editor and reporter.
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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 5 best homework help websites (free and paid).
Other High School , General Education
Listen: we know homework isn’t fun, but it is a good way to reinforce the ideas and concepts you’ve learned in class. But what if you’re really struggling with your homework assignments?
If you’ve looked online for a little extra help with your take-home assignments, you’ve probably stumbled across websites claiming to provide the homework help and answers students need to succeed . But can homework help sites really make a difference? And if so, which are the best homework help websites you can use?
Below, we answer these questions and more about homework help websites–free and paid. We’ll go over:
- The basics of homework help websites
- The cost of homework help websites
- The five best homework websites out there
- The pros and cons of using these websites for homework help
- The line between “learning” and “cheating” when using online homework help
- Tips for getting the most out of a homework help website
So let’s get started!
The Basics About Homework Help Websites–Free and Paid
Homework help websites are designed to help you complete your homework assignments, plain and simple.
What Makes a Homework Help Site Worth Using
Most of the best sites allow users to ask questions and then provide an answer (or multiple possible answers) and explanation in seconds. In some instances, you can even send a photo of a particular assignment or problem instead of typing the whole thing out!
Homework help sites also offer more than just help answering homework questions. Common services provided are Q&A with experts, educational videos, lectures, practice tests and quizzes, learning modules, math solving tools, and proofreading help. Homework help sites can also provide textbook solutions (i.e. answers to problems in tons of different textbooks your school might be using), one-on-one tutoring, and peer-to-peer platforms that allow you to discuss subjects you’re learning about with your fellow students.
And best of all, nearly all of them offer their services 24/7, including tutoring!
What You Should Should Look Out For
When it comes to homework help, there are lots–and we mean lots –of scam sites out there willing to prey on desperate students. Before you sign up for any service, make sure you read reviews to ensure you’re working with a legitimate company.
A word to the wise: the more a company advertises help that veers into the territory of cheating, the more likely it is to be a scam. The best homework help websites are going to help you learn the concepts you’ll need to successfully complete your homework on your own. (We’ll go over the difference between “homework help” and “cheating” a little later!)
You don't need a golden piggy bank to use homework help websites. Some provide low or no cost help for students like you!
How Expensive Are the Best Homework Help Websites?
First of all, just because a homework help site costs money doesn’t mean it’s a good service. Likewise, just because a homework help website is free doesn’t mean the help isn’t high quality. To find the best websites, you have to take a close look at the quality and types of information they provide!
When it comes to paid homework help services, the prices vary pretty widely depending on the amount of services you want to subscribe to. Subscriptions can cost anywhere from $2 to $150 dollars per month, with the most expensive services offering several hours of one-on-one tutoring with a subject expert per month.
The 5 Best Homework Help Websites
So, what is the best homework help website you can use? The answer is that it depends on what you need help with.
The best homework help websites are the ones that are reliable and help you learn the material. They don’t just provide answers to homework questions–they actually help you learn the material.
That’s why we’ve broken down our favorite websites into categories based on who they’re best for . For instance, the best website for people struggling with math might not work for someone who needs a little extra help with science, and vice versa.
Keep reading to find the best homework help website for you!
Best Free Homework Help Site: Khan Academy
- Price: Free!
- Best for: Practicing tough material
Not only is Khan Academy free, but it’s full of information and can be personalized to suit your needs. When you set up your account , you choose which courses you need to study, and Khan Academy sets up a personal dashboard of instructional videos, practice exercises, and quizzes –with both correct and incorrect answer explanations–so you can learn at your own pace.
As an added bonus, it covers more course topics than many other homework help sites, including several AP classes.
Runner Up: Brainly.com offers a free service that allows you to type in questions and get answers and explanations from experts. The downside is that you’re limited to two answers per question and have to watch ads.
Best Paid Homework Help Site: Chegg
- Price: $14.95 to $19.95 per month
- Best for: 24/7 homework assistance
This service has three main parts . The first is Chegg Study, which includes textbook solutions, Q&A with subject experts, flashcards, video explanations, a math solver, and writing help. The resources are thorough, and reviewers state that Chegg answers homework questions quickly and accurately no matter when you submit them.
Chegg also offers textbook rentals for students who need access to textbooks outside of their classroom. Finally, Chegg offers Internship and Career Advice for students who are preparing to graduate and may need a little extra help with the transition out of high school.
Another great feature Chegg provides is a selection of free articles geared towards helping with general life skills, like coping with stress and saving money. Chegg’s learning modules are comprehensive, and they feature solutions to the problems in tons of different textbooks in a wide variety of subjects.
Runner Up: Bartleby offers basically the same services as Chegg for $14.99 per month. The reason it didn’t rank as the best is based on customer reviews that say user questions aren’t answered quite as quickly on this site as on Chegg. Otherwise, this is also a solid choice!
Best Site for Math Homework Help: Photomath
- Price: Free (or $59.99 per year for premium services)
- Best for: Explaining solutions to math problems
This site allows you to t ake a picture of a math problem, and instantly pulls up a step-by-step solution, as well as a detailed explanation of the concept. Photomath also includes animated videos that break down mathematical concepts to help you better understand and remember them.
The basic service is free, but for an additional fee you can get extra study tools and learn additional strategies for solving common math problems.
Runner Up: KhanAcademy offers in-depth tutorials that cover complex math topics for free, but you won’t get the same tailored help (and answers!) that Photomath offers.
Best Site for English Homework Help: Princeton Review Academic Tutoring
- Price: $40 to $153 per month, depending on how many hours of tutoring you want
- Best for: Comprehensive and personalized reading and writing help
While sites like Grammarly and Sparknotes help you by either proofreading what you write via an algorithm or providing book summaries, Princeton Review’s tutors provide in-depth help with vocabulary, literature, essay writing and development, proofreading, and reading comprehension. And unlike other services, you’ll have the chance to work with a real person to get help.
The best part is that you can get on-demand English (and ESL) tutoring from experts 24/7. That means you can get help whenever you need it, even if you’re pulling an all-nighter!
This is by far the most expensive homework site on this list, so you’ll need to really think about what you need out of a homework help website before you commit. One added benefit is that the subscription covers over 80 other subjects, including AP classes, which can make it a good value if you need lots of help!
Best Site for STEM Homework Help: Studypool
- Best for: Science homework help
- Price: Varies; you’ll pay for each question you submit
When it comes to science homework help, there aren’t a ton of great resources out there. The best of the bunch is Studypool, and while it has great reviews, there are some downsides as well.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Studypool offers an interesting twist on the homework help formula. After you create a free account, you can submit your homework help questions, and tutors will submit bids to answer your questions. You’ll be able to select the tutor–and price point–that works for you, then you’ll pay to have your homework question answered. You can also pay a small fee to access notes, lectures, and other documents that top tutors have uploaded.
The downside to Studypool is that the pricing is not transparent . There’s no way to plan for how much your homework help will cost, especially if you have lots of questions! Additionally, it’s not clear how tutors are selected, so you’ll need to be cautious when you choose who you’d like to answer your homework questions.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Homework Help Sites?
Homework help websites can be a great resource if you’re struggling in a subject, or even if you just want to make sure that you’re really learning and understanding topics and ideas that you’re interested in. But, there are some possible drawbacks if you don’t use these sites responsibly.
We’ll go over the good–and the not-so-good–aspects of getting online homework help below.
3 Pros of Using Homework Help Websites
First, let’s take a look at the benefits.
#1: Better Grades Beyond Homework
This is a big one! Getting outside help with your studies can improve your understanding of concepts that you’re learning, which translates into better grades when you take tests or write essays.
Remember: homework is designed to help reinforce the concepts you learned in class. If you just get easy answers without learning the material behind the problems, you may not have the tools you need to be successful on your class exams…or even standardized tests you’ll need to take for college.
One of the main reasons that online homework help is appealing is because it’s flexible and convenient. You don’t have to go to a specific tutoring center while they’re open or stay after school to speak with your teacher. Instead, you can access helpful resources wherever you can access the internet, whenever you need them.
This is especially true if you tend to study at off hours because of your extracurriculars, work schedule, or family obligations. Sites that offer 24/7 tutoring can give you the extra help you need if you can’t access the free resources that are available at your school.
Not everyone learns the same way. Maybe you’re more of a visual learner, but your teacher mostly does lectures. Or maybe you learn best by listening and taking notes, but you’re expected to learn something just from reading the textbook .
One of the best things about online homework help is that it comes in a variety of forms. The best homework help sites offer resources for all types of learners, including videos, practice activities, and even one-on-one discussions with real-life experts.
This variety can also be a good thing if you just don’t really resonate with the way a concept is being explained (looking at you, math textbooks!).
Not so fast. There are cons to homework help websites, too. Get to know them below!
3 Cons of Using Homework Help Websites
Now, let’s take a look at the drawbacks of online homework help.
#1: Unreliable Info
This can be a real problem. In addition to all the really good homework help sites, there are a whole lot of disreputable or unreliable sites out there. The fact of the matter is that some homework help sites don’t necessarily hire people who are experts in the subjects they’re talking about. In those cases, you may not be getting the accurate, up-to-date, and thorough information you need.
Additionally, even the great sites may not be able to answer all of your homework questions. This is especially true if the site uses an algorithm or chatbot to help students…or if you’re enrolled in an advanced or college-level course. In these cases, working with your teacher or school-provided tutors are probably your best option.
#2: No Clarification
This depends on the service you use, of course. But the majority of them provide free or low-cost help through pre-recorded videos. Watching videos or reading info online can definitely help you with your homework… but you can’t ask questions or get immediate feedback if you need it .
#3: Potential For Scamming
Like we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of homework help websites out there, and lots of them are scams. The review comments we read covered everything from outdated or wrong information, to misleading claims about the help provided, to not allowing people to cancel their service after signing up.
No matter which site you choose to use, make sure you research and read reviews before you sign up–especially if it’s a paid service!
When Does “Help” Become “Cheating”?
Admittedly, whether using homework help websites constitutes cheating is a bit of a grey area. For instance, is it “help” when a friend reads your essay for history class and corrects your grammar, or is it “cheating”? The truth is, not everyone agrees on when “help” crosses the line into “cheating .” When in doubt, it can be a good idea to check with your teacher to see what they think about a particular type of help you want to get.
That said, a general rule of thumb to keep in mind is to make sure that the assignment you turn in for credit is authentically yours . It needs to demonstrate your own thoughts and your own current abilities. Remember: the point of every homework assignment is to 1) help you learn something, and 2) show what you’ve learned.
So if a service answers questions or writes essays for you, there’s a good chance using it constitutes cheating.
Here’s an example that might help clarify the difference for you. Brainstorming essay ideas with others or looking online for inspiration is “help” as long as you write the essay yourself. Having someone read it and give you feedback about what you need to change is also help, provided you’re the one that makes the changes later.
But copying all or part of an essay you find online or having someone write (or rewrite) the whole thing for you would be “cheating.” The same is true for other subjects. Ultimately, if you’re not generating your own work or your own answers, it’s probably cheating.
5 Tips for Finding the Best Homework Help Websites for You
Now that you know some of our favorite homework help websites, free and paid, you can start doing some additional research on your own to decide which services might work best for you! Here are some top tips for choosing a homework help website.
Tip 1: Decide How You Learn Best
Before you decide which site or sites you’re going to use for homework help, y ou should figure out what kind of learning style works for you the most. Are you a visual learner? Then choose a site that uses lots of videos to help explain concepts. If you know you learn best by actually doing tasks, choose a site that provides lots of practice exercises.
Tip 2: Determine Which Subjects You Need Help With
Just because a homework help site is good overall doesn’t mean that it’s equally good for every subject. If you only need help in math, choose a site that specializes in that area. But if history is where you’re struggling, a site that specializes in math won’t be much help. So make sure to choose a site that you know provides high-quality help in the areas you need it most.
Tip 3: Decide How Much One-On-One Help You Need
This is really about cost-effectiveness. If you learn well on your own by reading and watching videos, a free site like Khan Academy is a good choice. But if you need actual tutoring, or to be able to ask questions and get personalized answers from experts, a paid site that provides that kind of service may be a better option.
Tip 4: Set a Budget
If you decide you want to go with a paid homework help website, set a budget first . The prices for sites vary wildly, and the cost to use them can add up quick.
Tip 5: Read the Reviews
Finally, it’s always a good idea to read actual reviews written by the people using these homework sites. You’ll learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of what the users’ experiences have been. This is especially true if you intend to subscribe to a paid service. You’ll want to make sure that users think it’s worth the price overall!
If you want to get good grades on your homework, it’s a good idea to learn how to tackle it strategically. Our expert tips will help you get the most out of each assignment…and boost your grades in the process.
Doing well on homework assignments is just one part of getting good grades. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about getting great grades in high school in this article.
Of course, test grades can make or break your GPA, too. Here are 17 expert tips that’ll help you get the most out of your study prep before you take an exam.
Need more help? Check out Tutorbase!
Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.
Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.
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How Yahoo! Answers Shaped The Internet
Yahoo! Answers is shutting down in May. From sex education to homework help, users of the forum remember how it shaped early Internet culture.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
An online corner for curious thinkers, a relic of a bygone Internet, Yahoo says it is shutting down its Q&A forum, Yahoo Answers.
JAISHREE KUMAR: Can you boil your earphones? Can you fall in love with a potato? How is baby formed? That was another one.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's journalist Jaishree Kumar reading some of the site's most popular questions wistfully because Yahoo Answers was a crucial resource for her growing up.
KUMAR: There were some questions like, I swallowed a watermelon seed. Am I going to get pregnant? Maybe they were just joking around. But at the age of 11, you probably think that, like, hey, can that happen? Can I end up growing a watermelon baby accidentally?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: During her childhood in India, Yahoo Answers was there for Jaishree Kumar when no one else was.
KUMAR: To be honest, I think the lack of sex education I had in my own country in my own social settings is sort of tied up with this because I was going to Yahoo Answers to look for like, you know, what would constitute as basic sex education.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: News that the website will stop allowing new posts on April 20 and will disappear entirely on May 4 has many former users looking back over these past 16 years for their Yahoo Answers greatest hits.
JACQUI LEVITAN: When I was in fifth grade, we had an explorers project, and every person in my class got assigned an explorer.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Jacqui Levitan of San Francisco.
LEVITAN: I was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. And there was another boy in my class who also was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and so I kind of was feeling a little competitive. And I decided I wanted to prank him a little. And so I kept trying to convince him that Cabrillo's favorite color was pink. And he wasn't believing me, and so then I took to Yahoo Answers and posted a question from one account saying, what was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's favorite color? - and then went in and answered it with a different account.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: She looked it all up.
LEVITAN: Answered February 13, 2009. According to most of my research, Cabrillo's favorite color was pink. My name is Catalina Rodriguez, and I am distantly related to Juna Cabrillo. I have done a lot of research about this topic, and it is quite true.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Levitan remembers her poor classmate dressing in pink for his presentation. No word on if points got deducted.
MICHAEL DUGAN: The first time I used Yahoo Answers, arguably, was in high school when we had take-home tests that I could copy and paste the test question into Yahoo.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Michael Dugan of Atlanta.
DUGAN: Funny enough, it was pretty much anything. Like, I'm a chemist now, and I know I definitely used it on some chemistry tests in high school and even college.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tan Tran says he also relied on Yahoo Answers with a dash of hope.
TAN TRAN: The funny thing about Yahoo Answers is you can rank up responses. The highest rated, I pray, is usually the correct one.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dugan says he saw warning signs, though.
DUGAN: Like, when I searched an answer to cheat for a test, you know, you would dive down a rabbit hole, and you'd see some dumb response to a pretty easy question. And you'd always laugh that.
LUKE WINKIE: Will my laptop get heavier if I put more files on it?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's writer Luke Winkie reading an example. He called Yahoo Answers the most earnest place on the Internet.
WINKIE: You read it, and you're not sure if it's someone kind of just making a joke, or if it's someone who is genuinely curious about this.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Which is precisely why people like Sophie Armstrong are sad to see it go.
SOPHIE ARMSTRONG: I was really hurt when I heard Yahoo Answers was going to close because it has had a incredible cultural impact on the Internet.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Shane Conerty (ph), who runs a meme account called Sad Yahoos, is dedicating the next few weeks to preserving the site's content.
SHANE CONERTY: So after May 4, there will be a Yahoo Answers home, I guess, dedicated to the ridiculousness of Yahoo Answers.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And its incredible cultural impact. RIP Yahoo Answers.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
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An ode to Yahoo Answers, where perplexing questions begat questionable answers
Before Reddit became the “front page of the internet,” and before Tumblr and Twitter took off, there was one place online where you could seriously ask questions like, “ Did I accidentally summon a demon? ” or “ Why do we here? ”
It was one of the few sites where students seeking homework help, curious and ill-informed adults and, of course, trolls willingly sought each other’s guidance.
Such was the perplexing appeal of Yahoo Answers .
One of the web's pioneers will be wiped from the internet in May
Yahoo’s Q&A community, an oft-forgotten haven for eccentrics to ask nonsensical questions and offer largely unhelpful responses, is shuttering this month after nearly 16 years. The Verizon-owned website told users the platform is “less popular” than it once was, and resources will be directed to products that “better serve our members.”
The site’s members, the loyal few that remain, are distraught and devastated. Naturally, they submitted questions on which site to make their home in next.
Yahoo Answers had an odd appeal
Yahoo Answers is perhaps most fondly remembered as an unintentionally hilarious platform for some of the strangest folks on the internet. Few of the questions made sense, and typos and misspellings, while endearing, often bordered on illegibility. Serious inquiries were rarely answered.
Where else could you send queries like “How is cheese formed in a cow?” Where else could you weigh in on someone else’s familial squabbles – “i punched my sister in her face are my parents right to punish me ?”
The site had the staying power that Ask Jeeves and similar sites lacked. Whereas Ask.com turned into a mini-news aggregator and Quora was co-opted by high school students looking for solutions to problems in specific textbooks, Yahoo Answers clung to its irreverent roots while much of the world moved on without it.
It’s less innocent than you remember
Nothing gold on the internet can stay, and like other digital town squares, Yahoo Answers has devolved into something far bleaker than it was in its mid-2000s heyday: Partisan bickering and outlandish conspiracizing have, naturally, found a home there, too.
Unlike Reddit, there are no hyper-specific crevices to hide in. On Yahoo Answers, with its limited categories, the questions are out in the open.
Right-wing misinformation on Facebook is more engaging than its left-wing counterpart, research finds
In the “Education” section, struggling students ask if it’s “legal to stock” a teacher after school to find the answers to an upcoming test. In “Pets,” animal lovers wonder whether a machete is an appropriate weapon to protect against wild dogs. And in “Pregnancy & Parenting,” a surprising amount of people still wonder whether they are in fact the parent of the child they gave birth to.
Those blessedly unhinged questions and answers will be available in read-only mode starting April 20. The users who asked them and, for some reason, want to save the content forever have until June 30 to download them.
The legacy of Yahoo Answers
Yahoo Answers didn’t give us much in the way of genuine advice. It didn’t make a dent in the zeitgeist in the same way Reddit has.
But Yahoo Answers did leave a legacy of sorts, encapsulated in this 2016 video celebrating the many, many users who struggled to spell “ouija board.”
Aren’t we all just desperately seeking answers about life’s mysteries and trying out random solutions to see what sticks?
Sure, we aren’t usually asking about “Luigi boards” or “wiggy boreds.” But we still often turn to a community of strangers online to answer questions, form our opinions and make important choices on everything from what to eat to who to vote for.
Users mourn – and move on
With its closure, Yahoo Answers joins its late cousin, Ask Jeeves, in the annals of the early internet .
But the apparently still-vibrant Yahoo Answers community isn’t taking the site’s imminent shuttering well.
Half a billion Facebook users' information posted on hacking website, cyber experts say
“Isn’t Yahoo Answers shutting down enough proof that there is no God?”
“Is the shutting down of Yahoo! answers the beginning of the end?”
“Which website should we destroy next?”
The Yahoo Answers users who remain will likely land at one of the site’s more successful successors, where their offbeat takes will find a wider audience. The rest of us, those who were mere spectators to the goings-on at Yahoo Answers, can remember the site fondly for the occasional comedy as we relegate it to the digital dustbin.
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Yahoo Answers, a Haven for the Confused, Is Shutting Down
People used Yahoo Answers to ask weird questions, seek help and make jokes. But the service offered “real human reaction, for better or for worse,” one longtime observer said.
By Daniel Victor
At times on Yahoo Answers, the people asking questions of strangers lunged for the hallucinatory limits of human curiosity: What would a heaven for elephants be like? Should scientists give octopi bones?
It helped people identify their sense of self: Why do people with baguettes think they are better than me? Is being popular in high school a good skill I can use in a job interview?
It sought explanations for the unexplainable: Smoke coming from my belly button? Why is everything at my grandma’s house moist?
And it gave air to gaps in knowledge and admissions that perhaps had nowhere else to go: What does a hug feel like?
Yahoo, which is owned by Verizon Media, will be shutting down the question-and-answer service and deleting its archives on May 4, erasing a corner of the internet that will be widely remembered for its — to be charitable — less-than-enriching contributions to human knowledge since its arrival in 2005.
Less charitably, BuzzFeed News this week called it “one of the dumbest places on the internet.” Vulture said it was “populated entirely with Batman villains, aliens pretending to be human, and that one weird neighbor you’d rather climb down your fire escape in a blizzard than get caught in a conversation with.”
There is plenty of evidence for that position. People asked: Can you milk Gushers to make fruit juice? Can I cook raw chicken in the Michael wave? I forgot when my job interview is? What animal is Sonic the hedgehog? IS THIS YAHOO EMAIL SUPPORT?
Most famously, in a question that launched a meme , a confused soul who had learned little about reproductive science or spelling asked: How is babby formed?
It was never known how many of the questions were based in earnest ignorance and curiosity, and how much was intentional trolling. Answering required no expertise, and often displayed little of it.
But the site clearly was seen by some people, including children, as a comfortable space to ask the questions — sometimes important ones — they’d never dare to ask friends, families and teachers.
“Yahoo Answers was a place for people to put questions they were too embarrassed to ask the people they knew in real life,” said Justin McElroy, a co-host of the comedy podcast “My Brother, My Brother and Me,” which has featured questions from the service since 2010. “The weird, the dumb, the truly, truly demented: It all found a place on Yahoo Answers.”
Drew Davenport, a 34-year-old in Camarillo, Calif., who for seven years sifted through questions to submit to the podcast, said people told him they genuinely used the service to get through struggles at school, or to receive a sexual education they weren’t getting elsewhere.
That’s not to say the answers they got were good ones.
“Do you remember the idea of the internet that people talked about before it was really major?” he asked. “The idea that like this was going to be a global meeting place for the exchange of ideas in a free way?”
He answered: “Yahoo Answers is what we feared would happen. You got real human reaction, for better or for worse.”
The service lost its wide popularity in recent years, and there are more competitors now than there were when it was created. Quora positions itself as more of a highbrow network that is more likely to attract an expert response, and Reddit features a forum that invites people’s idle curiosity to roam free.
Yahoo, in a letter to users, said it had “decided to shift our resources away from Yahoo Answers to focus on products that better serve our members and deliver on Yahoo’s promise of providing premium trusted content.”
Questions and answers will be halted on April 20, and will be wiped off the internet on May 4. It’s not the first time Yahoo and other tech companies have killed off once-popular products without the benefit of archiving; 20 years of content posted to Yahoo Groups was deleted in 2019 , the same year Flickr deleted 15 years of photos .
Mr. McElroy said he wasn’t sure what the podcast would do without its bountiful pool of discussion prompts. When the show began in 2010, they used Yahoo Answers questions to pad out submissions from listeners, he said.
While some of the questions struck him as performance art, and others seemed like a lazy refusal to search for answers, he said he was sympathetic to many of the people asking. We all have some bad questions inside of us, he said.
“I think you get into trouble when you think no actual person would be wondering that, because people wonder about lots of things,” he said. “You don’t want to put limits on the depths of humanity’s curiosity-slash-ignorance.”
Although Yahoo will not archive the questions, enterprising internet users have cataloged some for posterity. The following are a small selection of more than 1,700 questions that have been featured on Mr. McElroy’s podcast:
Did soldiers in the American Revolution ever take off their shirts/coats off during battles?
How many calories are there in soap?
What if one day the cows fight back?
Do planes move fast or slow?
How to get a haircut similar to Joseph Stalin without showing the girl who cuts my hair a picture of Joseph Stalin?
I accidentally ate the Do Not Eat packet inside my shoe box. Am I gonna die?
In the TV show Friends what was the point of Ross?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toucan?
Me and my friend both applied for the same job. He got the job but I didn’t. Can I sue Papa Johns?
I ACCIDENTALLY SHIFTED TO UPPERCASE, HOW DO I GET BACK TO LOWERCASE SO MY PASSWORDS WILL WORK?
What do Canadians download?
How do u eat a hot dog in a fancy way?
How DEEP inside an apple is the Most nutrition?
Why do people from New Jersey ski in their jeans?
Should spaghetti be way shorter?
How to make your parents think you found a lizard even though you bought it online?
Why doesn’t the Grand Canyon have rides?
Why can’t we grow burger in tree?
Are you all aware that we’re the laughingstock of the Internet?
DID ANYBODY HAVE SEX in the 1990s. did it feel different from now?
I Like Space and Dinosaurs?
Can I bring frozen pizzas in my carry on or hold in hand?
Did dragons live before, during, or after dinosaurs?
Ladies, I bring my guitar almost everywhere to impress women, does this work?
Why there is no beef nuggets?
My boyfriend gave me a 60 count box of waffles for Christmas. He seemed so excited about it but I don’t want to hurt his feelings?
How old do I have to be to get nunchuks?
I kissed a guy a year ago is his spit still in my mouth?
Eel help! Has he gone crazy?
WAS THAT DOG EDDIE ON FRASIER A REAL DOG OR COMPUTER GENERATED?
How do people on Jeopardy know the answers?
Daniel Victor is a London-based reporter, covering a wide variety of stories with a focus on breaking news. He joined The Times in 2012 from ProPublica. More about Daniel Victor
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Yahoo Answers is dead, but its weird and amusing legacy lives on
What Yahoo Answers was supposed to be, what it became, and what remains.
It's over. On May 4, Yahoo Answers went offline , putting an end to one of the weirdest, oldest and least organized communities of crowdsourced questions and answers. The site's seemingly endless parade of user-submitted queries ranged from intriguing thought experiments (from the likes of Stephen Hawking , no less) to the absurdity of someone asking the community, "What did my dad just say to me?"
Why do you think anybody on the internet would know this?
Yahoo Answers became notorious as a home for a very specific brand of chaos. Some questions became famous memes unto themselves . Others became standards on "top ten funniest" Yahoo Answers questions. The community became a rich mine of material for YouTube comedians, even PewDiePie . Famous podcasters used Yahoo Answers as a source for inspiration too: Dissecting weird questions was a regular segment on My Brother, My Brother and Me .
Yahoo Answers had a legacy. Just not the one it was designed to have.
What Yahoo Answers was supposed to be
When Yahoo launched its question-and-answer platform in 2005, becoming a mainstay of internet comedy wasn't part of the plan. The company billed the service as "a place where people can ask each other questions on any topic, and get answers by sharing facts, opinions and personal experiences." Even so, Yahoo Answers didn't exist for its own sake -- it was created to help bolster Yahoo Search results.
It can be easy to forget how influential Yahoo once was. It was a big company with social communities, email, directories and, of course, the biggest search engine in the world. In 2005, however it was facing fierce competition. The hope was that Yahoo Answers could make the company's search engine better by offering users millions of crowdsourced answers to any question they might have.
A tech support classic.
"Long term, Answers has the potential to attract incremental users, increase time spent on the Yahoo! Platform," Lehman Brothers analyst Douglas Anmuth told Forbes shortly after the service launched , "and create monetization opportunities through additional sponsored links and page views."
Yahoo Answers was never really about the answers, which could be why the service was best known for the questions its users asked.
What Yahoo Answers became
Regardless of what Yahoo Answers was designed to be, it's best known for the surprising and ridiculous questions people asked it. In fact, before news broke of the shutdown, most searches for Yahoo Answers on Google, YouTube and other platforms brought back lists of absurd and amusing ponderings.
There are dozens of comedy videos mocking Yahoo Answers' weirdest questions, and teasing these often too-personal questions will forever be a part of the service's legacy. Despite the jokes, the platform actually got kind of close to what it was designed to be. More earnest searches could lead you to awkward, but innocent questions about growing up and human development -- possibly the queries of those too embarrassed to ask their parents. Lots of users were seeking household repair tips and tech support.
Some questions were just students trying to get the internet to "help" with their homework.
When you really didn't feel like doing your own homework, Yahoo Answers was there.
Although the platform was devised to augment Yahoo's search engine, the site's features helped it find its own weird identity once that searchable trove of knowledge became less of a priority for the company. Question askers could pick the best response to any given question, which would help the person writing that answer earn points to level up in an internal ranking system. The points and level didn't actually do anything, but it helped create a sense of community. That sense of community is one of the things that made Yahoo Answers interesting. When it launched in late 2005, it debuted alongside many of today's internet giants. Facebook and Reddit were both still in their infancy, and Twitter was only months away. Yahoo Answers wasn't built to compete with any of these networks, but it filled some similar roles. At a time when users online were moving away from traditional message board systems and chat rooms, Yahoo Answers was there -- serving as a half-step between the internet communities of the late 1990s and the social media empires that were about to take over the web.
Some Yahoo Answers users were just trying to learn about growing up.
It's one aspect of the service that survived to the end. Browsing Yahoo Answers' categories in its final days still surfaced plenty of standard questions seeking answers ("Can u write on money," or "How do I get a grease stain out of concrete"), but you could also find the same discussions you'd expect on Reddit. These range from new parents asking in the parenting forum what people thought of the name of their child, or political partisans debating the latest headlines in the politics and news sections.
Yahoo Answers and the internet afterlife
After May 4, the Yahoo question-and-answer service will go the way of GeoCities . There'll be no official attempts to preserve or archive the service. Unless an outside group takes action, Yahoo Answers' millions of questions -- chaotic, hilarious and sublime -- will be lost to time.
Fortunately, this is the internet, where there's always someone happy to preserve a bizarre database of terrible spelling and weird questions -- even if it might not be worth saving. When Yahoo announced it was shutting the service down, Gizmodo wrote that it created a script that would archive 84 million Yahoo Answers questions to the Internet Archive, but admitted that it would take two years to complete the process. Fortunately, a group called Archive Team started a similar project back in 2016 .
A large portion of Yahoo Answers' publicly available questions are already backed up, and the team has made archiving the rest their "warrior project" focus for spring 2021. For better or worse, Yahoo Answers' weird legacy will be preserved on the Internet Archive .
Unfortunately, the archived pages' search function doesn't currently work, but at least we'll always have all those MBMBAM segments .
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