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Yahoo Answers stops answering | KTIC Radio

Yahoo Answers stops answering

Orbon Alija/iStock
Orbon Alija/iStock

(NEW YORK) — Get your final questions ready, because Tuesday marks the last day users can post on Yahoo Answers.
 
First created in 2005, Yahoo Answers is a message board for people to post questions which can then be answered by anyone on the internet willing to help. Questions posted to the site range from asking the pros and cons of Ready Mix Concrete, to how to replace a car battery, to whether the Chicago Bears will ever win another Super Bowl.
 
Unlike posting questions to a Facebook group, Yahoo Answers is almost completely unregulated, which means anyone can anonymously post whatever’s on their mind- and some people who posted to Yahoo Answers have had some big questions. Some examples from the site’s more than fifteen year history include:
 
— Did dragons live before, during, or after dinosaurs?
— Should spaghetti be way shorter?
— Ladies, I bring my guitar almost everywhere to impress women- does this work?
— If I eat myself, would I become twice as big? Or disappear completely?
— HOW DO I TURN OFF CAPS LOCK?
— I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toucan?

 
Comical Q&As were so common on Yahoo Answers that they gave rise to a cottage industry of podcasts and YouTube series that celebrated the most outlandish posts.
 
“It has spawned some of my favorite dramatic readings on YouTube,” says Ryan Broderick, who writes the internet culture newsletter “Garbage Day.”
 
“My Brother, My Brother, and Me” is a comedy advice podcast hosted by brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. Every episode, they spotlight some of the strangest Yahoo Answers they can find.
 
“Maybe three or four Yahoo Answers per [episode.] So we’ve done quite a few,” says Travis McElroy.
 
He says in the more than 10 years they’ve been reading questions on the platform, they’ve noticed some trends.
 
“Lots of questions about vaping. A lot of questions about horses. A lot of questions about ghosts — a lot of questions about ghosts.”
 
McElroy says one of the things that keeps them coming back to Yahoo Answers is that the questioners, in many cases, genuinely want an answer. He says his podcast makes an effort to respond in way that matches that sentiment.
 
“Our favorite kind of Yahoo Answers questions are the ones where — no matter how wild the subject matter is — there is clearly a, like, deep sense of sincerity. Like, the person really wants to know the answer to that,” says McElroy. “And I think one of the things that kind of clicked for us very early on is like, well, it’s really easy to just sit there and make fun of this. But I think it’s even more fun to try to think of an answer that might help them.”
 
Earlier this month, in a decision that several Twitter users compared to the burning of the Library of Alexandria, Yahoo announced it would be shutting down Yahoo Answers — thus deleting the platform’s entire backlog of posts. The last day to post questions and answers is Tuesday, April 20, before it’s taken down altogether on May 4. In a statement announcing the shutdown, Yahoo cited flagging interest in the platform, writing, “while Yahoo Answers was once a key part of Yahoo’s products and services, it has become less popular over the years.”
 
“Yahoo has sort of made a habit of doing this. You know, inventing these things that become part of the way we think about the internet, and then when they don’t make money they disappear them,” says Broderick.
 
Yahoo Answers’ disappearance also leaves a void for all the people who’ve made a living off the content posted there, according to McElroy.
 
“There are, of course, other websites where you go to ask questions, but, like, Yahoo Answers has like formed into such a unique thing that I don’t know that we could one-for-one replace it,” he says.
 
But he adds the real loss will be all those curious Yahoo Answers users who will now have to go unanswered.
 
“Yeah, there’s a part of me that is sad for what it means for our show, but more than that I’m sad for the Yahoo Answers community. And sad for what they will be missing.”
 
Broderick says even if the platform doesn’t make financial sense to the company anymore, the mark it leaves on internet culture is unquestionable.
 
“We need these weird memes and quirky things because that’s what makes the internet a fun place and it’s going to be sad when it disappears, I think.”

Hear ABC Audio’s Mike Dobuski report on the end of Yahoo Answers:

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