Greg Linden recently wrote a post titled Revisiting Yahoo Answers in which he concluded the following:
Despite the name, Yahoo Answers is a discussion forum. People are using it like a newsgroup, chatting about various topics. They are not using Yahoo Answers as much to generate authoritative answers to questions.
Though I don't remember who to attribute it to, it's been said that all software is social and Yahoo! Answers is a great example of that.
The fact that Yahoo! Answers is being used for more than simple fact-based Q&A is no surprise. To me it's a good thing. It shows that (a) people want a[nother] place to talk, and (b) they feel comfortable on Yahoo! Answers. Some questions end up spawning discussions and collecting a lot of opinions (as well as facts), while others are pretty simple fact-based questions and responses.
The fact that the Yahoo! Answers team isn't trying to fight the community on this is also a good thing. A very good thing. Smart product managers don't fight their users in a situation like this. They've built a service that can do more than it was originally marketed for and people are making use of that.
While I've asked only a few questions on Yahoo! Answers, I've spent enough time on it to realize that you don't have to try very hard to figure out when someone is giving you facts vs. opinions. Often times the "extra" information that someone provides by going beyond a simple Wikipedia citation can be quite useful. They give you ideas for related ideas or additional background on the issue.
I've also been impressed by the speed at which questions get answered. Each time, I've had a dozen or so answers within the first hour or two of posting. That's pretty satisfying.
Greg doesn't clearly issue an opinion on whether or not he thinks this is a good thing or not. But I'm more positive now than I was a year or so ago.
Posted by jzawodn at October 08, 2007 10:50 AM
Kudos to the Y! Answers community management team and editorial staff who have righted the product numerous times, espeically during the Beta period. Much like the engineers, these teams don't get enough credit for their daily dirty work. Customer satisfaction is very important to the team and, in general, the entire company.
The true power of a utility comes to light when it is used in ways that its authors never dreamed possible. That was said about unix command line applications a few decades ago.