Yahoo! Answers: people-powered search

This morning Yahoo! released YAF (Yet Another Feature), this one called Yahoo!
Written by Richard MacManus, Contributor

This morning Yahoo! released YAF (Yet Another Feature), this one called Yahoo! Answers. Here's what it is:

"Yahoo! Answers is a place where people ask each other questions on any topic, and get answers by sharing facts, opinions, and personal experiences."

It's got all the usual Web 2.0 goodness in it: user-generated content, sharing information, a points system that rewards participation, user ratings, RSS feeds, etc. But as Mike Arrington from TechCrunch pointed out, it doesn't have tagging (choosing to use formal categories instead). Gary Price from SearchEngineWatch spoke with Ofer Shaked, Director of Engineering for Yahoo Search:

"Shaked told me that Yahoo Answers is built to on the company's social search technology with a focus on answering day to day questions of a subjunctive nature (Where can I buy..., What's a good show to see..., etc.) and organizing them into a more structured info base with the use of several features including categories." 

Currently Yahoo Answers has 23 top-level categories and answers will be promoted on Yahoo Web Results pages. Advertising may be added in future and people who answer questions may get paid in due course. Yahoo! has also closely integrated this with existing products, with 'Save to My Web' and 'Add to My Yahoo!' buttons.

Yahoo! Answers is a big step up from what Google offers. Google Answers is fee-based and only "qualified" Google researchers answer questions - it is generally a lot more formalized (less democratic?) than Yahoo! Answers. If anything Yahoo's new product reminds me of Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a web service that - according to its homepage - enables users to "complete simple tasks that people do better than computers [and] get paid for it."

I tried out Yahoo Answers, with this contentious question: "what is Web 2.0? A bunch of us think it's 'Web as Platform', but a bunch of others think it's just hype." Already I've received one answer, a pointer to a Paul Graham essay. It's a start I guess... ;-)

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