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Friday, April 4, 2014

Yahoo! Answers...aha

Years ago, half a decade ago, Yahoo! Answers used to actually be a pretty good place to get some decent answers to some of life's most difficult and unusual questions. As time went on, it just became something for trolls, ignorant, and sensitive people to use. By ignorant, I'm speaking about those "answering" questions, not so much those asking as many of them are genuinely curious.

Yahoo decided to "suspend" my account a few years ago and never gave me a reason why. Still, to this day, I send them an e-mail every now and then asking when my account will be reinstated and why was my account suspended in the first place. To this day, Yahoo refuses to give me a solid answer as to why my account was suspended. Yahoo still uses this term "suspension" as if my ban is not permanent when it really is which also made it frustrating when they first did it to me. To me, I find it highly inappropriate to not give a user the exact reason why they were banned in the first place. I mean, if it was that bad, shouldn't they know so they don't repeat the same mistake?

By the tone of my writing voice, you can already tell that I'm not too happy with the service and that this post will be more of a rant with the site and how it's handled.

Since the internet's beginning, forums have developed into a fairly decent place to find answers to questions as many people bring their ideas to the table in many different ways. Yahoo Answers is simply a cheap, corporate ripoff of this concept. After being banned by the company, I moved over to forums and saw a huge difference in how effective they can really be in helping me with some of my issues. But enough about forums for a moment.

What brought on this post was a Yahoo Answers question that I read this morning. I truly felt for the guy posing the question. It can be found at this link.

The original poster asked a genuinely interesting question that I, too, was wondering. He/she included as many details as they possibly could into the same post section and patiently awaited for people to answer the question he/she posed. The answers they received? Subpar, to say the least.

I agree with the poster's choice in "Best Answer" as well as their response. The "Best Answer" chosen is "Chrome is crap. Stick to Firefox." Seriously? Is that honestly the answer given to this well thought out question? The question, simply put, was asking why Google Chrome takes up so much memory. The poster already came to the conclusion that Firefox uses much less memory for the same amount of content, but did not ask for opinions. Even if they did, "Chrome is crap" and "Stick to Firefox" are not explaining the opinion given. They are just statements. The other "answers" to this particular question weren't much better.

You can see by the answers too, that each of them have major numbers of thumbs down too. To me, this signifies that the community realizes that these are stupid answers. Yahoo feels differently about the answers and refuses to remove them. I'm sure people reported the answers too and, as usual, Yahoo refuses to remove the unnecessary answers.

For me, personally, Yahoo removed a few of my answers that I gave. One such situation still bothers me as to why they did it.

A user posed a question asking for information about torrents. They were genuinely curious about what torrents were and how they worked. I responded by simply answering their question by explaining how the peer to peer network works as well as brief information on the programs used like uTorrent. I also made sure to inform them that most torrenting is illegal in most countries. How did Yahoo respond? Removing my comment and placing me on a temporary suspension. For what? Answering the question with accuracy?

Seeing my unfair treatment and then the way Yahoo treats trolls and ignorant people like the ones replying to the question above made me lose respect for the website in whole. It became a joke and things still haven't changed today.

Besides the lack of support the company provides, the website itself is, as I said before, a cheap, corporate attempt at a forum. What makes forums far superior are two distinct things.

For one, forums allow multiple inputs by each user; whereas Yahoo Answers only allows one post per user per question. In this, forums allow healthy dialogue amongst users that evolves and you can see the evolution in real time by going through the various pages. In Yahoo Answers, it's nothing but a bunch of ugly edits, one after another, for users to have a conversation over a specific topic.

Secondly, Yahoo Answers is too generalized and using a points system increases the amount of idiotic responses people receive. One of the worst responses I saw and still see today is people "answering" questions with "I don't know". This is the result of Yahoo Answers enticing users with points for each answer they give regardless how useful the answer is or not. Then the generalization of the website based on categories increases the amount of ignorant replies. Someone may have joined and have more knowledge in fashion, but will answer questions in technology and automotive because they're bored and want points. Forums have an advantage because they are centralized and the users are there because they are experienced in that particular area.

True, I may be a member of a forum just for one reason and that means I'll be the member of multiple forums with multiple identities, but it's much better than being in a place like Yahoo Answers where the users don't always know what they're talking about. You can get much better answers regarding your Android device from than you will by asking it on Yahoo Answers.

I still contact Yahoo about my "suspension" just to see if they've changed, but I don't think they will any time soon. I don't have faith they'll ever change and I don't really care about coming back. But the company should change. I often come across Yahoo Answers in my online searches to questions and time and time again I see questions like this that continue to go unanswered. Yahoo is stuck in their ways and the small community they have is far too dedicated to something lacking what other sites can provide because it's all they know.

It was a nice idea, but its execution was flawed.

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