Yahoo Answers, a haven for the confused, is closing

Sometimes on Yahoo Answers, people asking questions of strangers would push themselves to the mind-boggling limits of human curiosity: What would a paradise for elephants look like? Should Scientists Give Octopus Bones?

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 to use in a job interview?

He searched for explanations for the inexplicable: Is smoke coming out of my belly button? Why is everything humid in my grandmother’s house?

And it gave air to gaps in knowledge and admissions that perhaps had nowhere to go: How does a hug feel?

Yahoo, which is owned by Verizon Media, will shut down the Q&A service and delete its files on May 4, deleting a corner of the internet that will be widely remembered for its, for being charitable, less than enriching contributions to human knowledge since its arrival in 2005.

With less charity, BuzzFeed News this week called it “one of the dumbest places on the internet.” Vulture said it was “populated entirely by Batman villains, aliens pretending to be human, and that strange neighbor you would rather go down the fire escape with in a snowstorm than get caught up in conversation.”

There is a lot of evidence for that position. People asked: You can milk Gushers make fruit juice? Can I cook raw chicken on Michael’s wave? Did I forget when my job interview is? What animal is Sonic the hedgehog? IS THIS EMAIL SUPPORT FROM YAHOO?

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 on deep ignorance and curiosity, and to what extent they were intentional trolling. Responding required no experience and often showed little experience.

But some people, including children, clearly saw the site as a comfortable space to ask the sometimes important questions that they would never dare to ask friends, family, and teachers.

“Yahoo Answers was a place for people to ask questions they were embarrassed to ask people they knew in real life,” said Justin McElroy, co-host of the comedy podcast “My Brother, My Brother and Me” included questions from the service. since 2010. “The weird, the silly, the truly crazy: everything found a place in Yahoo Answers”

Drew Davenport, a 34-year-old from Camarillo, California, who for seven years vetted questions for podcasting, said people told him they were actually using the service to overcome difficulties in school or to get sex ed. they weren’t going to get anywhere else.

That is not to say that the responses they got were good.

“Do you remember the idea of ​​the Internet that people talked about before it was really important?” I ask. “The idea that this was going to be a global meeting place for the free exchange of ideas?”

He replied: “Yahoo Answers is what we feared would happen. You have a real human reaction, for better or for worse. “

The service lost its great popularity in recent years and there are now more competitors than when it was created. Quora positions itself more as an intellectual 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 divert our resources from Yahoo Answers to focus on products that better serve our members and deliver on Yahoo’s promise to provide reliable premium content.”

The questions and answers will stop on April 20 and will be removed from the Internet on May 4. It’s not the first time that Yahoo and other tech companies have removed once-popular products without the benefit of the archive; In 2019, 20 years of content posted to Yahoo Groups were removed, the same year that Flickr removed 15 years of photos.

McElroy said he wasn’t sure what the podcast would do without his abundant source of suggestions for discussion. When the show began in 2010, they used questions from Yahoo Answers to fill out listener presentations, he said.

While some of the questions sounded like performance art to him, and others sounded like a lazy refusal to seek answers, he said he sympathized with many of the people who asked. We all have some bad questions inside of us, he said.

“I think you get into trouble when you think that no real person will ask that, because people wonder about a lot of things,” he said. “You don’t want to limit the depths of humanity’s curiosity-cut-ignorance.”

Although Yahoo won’t archive the questions, enterprising netizens have cataloged some for posterity. The following is a small selection of more than 1,700 questions that have been featured on Mr. McElroy’s podcast:

Did the soldiers of the American Revolution ever remove their shirts or coats during battles?

How many calories does soap have?

What if one day the cows fight back?

Are airplanes moving fast or slow?

How to get a Joseph Stalin-like haircut without showing the girl who cuts my hair a picture of Joseph Stalin?

I accidentally ate the Do Not Eat package inside my shoe box. I’m going to die?

On the TV show Friends, what was Ross’s point?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toucan?

My friend and I apply for the same job. He got the job but I didn’t. Can I sue Papa Johns?


What do Canadians download?

How do you eat a hot dog in a classy way?

At what depth does an apple have the most nutrition?

Why do people in New Jersey ski in jeans?

Should the spaghetti be much shorter?

How to make your parents think you found a lizard even though you bought it online?

Why does the Grand Canyon have no attractions?

Why can’t we grow hamburgers on a tree?

Do you all know that we are the laughingstock of the Internet?

DID ANYONE HAVE SEX in the 1990s? Did you feel different from now?

Do I like space and dinosaurs?

Can I carry frozen pizzas in my hand or carry them in my hand?

Did dragons live before, during, or after dinosaurs?

Ladies, I carry my guitar almost everywhere to impress women, does it work?

Why are there 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 boy a year ago, does he still have saliva in my mouth?

Help eel! It has gone mad?


How do the people at Jeopardy know the answers?

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