Yahoo! Answers

What is Yahoo Answers?

An online question-and-answer community where anyone can ask a question on any topic and get immediate answers from real people, which are in turn rated or voted on. These types of communities are popular, and multiple websites follow a similar model of using the “wisdom of crowds” for answers. One example is the more exclusive, sophisticated version seen at Quora.

Yahoo! Answers allows any questions that do not violate Yahoo! Answers community guidelines.  To encourage good answers, helpful participants are occasionally featured on the Yahoo! Answers Blog. Though the service itself is free, the contents of the answers are owned by the respective users – while Yahoo! maintains a non-exclusive royalty-free worldwide right to publish the information. Chat is explicitly forbidden in the Community Guidelines, although categories like Politics and Religion & Spirituality are mostly opinion.  Users may also choose to reveal their Yahoo! Messenger ID on their Answers profile page.

Misuse of Yahoo!

Answers is handled by a user moderation system, where users report posts that are in breach of guidelines or the Terms of Service. Posts are removed if they receive sufficient weight of trusted reports (reports from users with a reliable reporting history). Deletion may be appealed: an unsuccessful appeal receives a 10-point penalty; a successful one reinstates the post and reduces the ‘trust rating’ (reporting power) of the reporter. If a user receives a large number of violations in a relatively short amount of time or a very serious violation, it can cause the abuser’s account to be suspended. In extreme, but rare cases (for a Terms of Service violation), the abuser’s entire Yahoo! ID will be suddenly deactivated without warning.

To open an account, a user needs a Yahoo! ID but can use any name as identification on Yahoo! Answers. A user can be represented by a picture from various internet avatar sites or a user-made graphic uploaded to replace their default Yahoo graphic. Yahoo! Avatars was discontinued in 2012. When answering a question, a user can search Yahoo! or Wikipedia, or any source of information that the user wishes, as long as they mention their source.

Questions are initially open to answers for four days. However, the asker can choose to pick a best answer for the question after a minimum of one hour. However, comments and answers can still be posted after this time.  To ask a question, one has to have a Yahoo! account with a positive score balance of five points or more.

Point System

The points system is weighted to encourage users to answer questions and to limit spam questions. There are also levels (with point thresholds), which give more site access.  Points and levels have no real world value, cannot be traded, and serve only to indicate how active a user has been on the site. A notable downside to the points/level system is that it encourages people to answer questions even when they do not have a suitable answer to give to gain points. Users also receive ten points for contributing the “Best Answer” which is selected by the question’s asker. The voting function, which allowed users to vote for the answer they considered best, was discontinued in April 2014.

In addition to points awarded for activity,  Yahoo! Answers staff may also award extra points if they are impressed with a user’s contributions. The Yahoo! Answers community manager has stated that “power users” who defend the company should be thanked and rewarded.

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