The New York TimesApril 7, 2021 1:38:46 PM IST
Sometimes on Yahoo Answers, people asking strangers questions 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 he 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 a conversation.”
There is a lot of evidence for that position. People asked: Can you milk Gushers to 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?
More 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 how much was 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,” which has included service questions since 2010. “The weird, the silly, the truly crazy: everything found a place on Yahoo Answers.”
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 its abundant number of discussion posts. 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 in trouble when you think that no real person would be asking, because people wonder about a lot of things,” he said. “You don’t want to limit the depths of humanity’s curiosity-cut-ignorance.”
Daniel victor [c.2021 The New York Times Company]