Yahoo Answers The Internet

    December 8, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Yahoo has taken the basic idea behind Usenet – posting a question and getting an answer from another user – and created a new website for users to ask those burning questions, like “How do I become a movie extra?”

Yahoo Answers The Internet
Yahoo Answers The Internet

The latest post on Yahoo’s Search blog comes from none other than blogging legend Jeremy Zawodny, who discussed the shortcomings of web search when it comes to asking questions that a collection of keywords can’t extract via algorithmic magic from a searchable index:

When it comes to locating facts, such as the capital of India, web search rocks. But there are many times that keywords just don’t cut it-times when you need to ask a question to a group of humans. You know, real people.

Personally, I usually just write up a blog post or use our internal “random” mailing list at work. It takes almost no time to send spam (err, I mean “email”) to hundreds of coworkers who are willing to read and occasionally respond to seemingly random questions. But most people don’t have ready access to such a group.

A beta test of Yahoo Answers puts a Web 2.0 look and feel on a very old concept: the Usenet newsgroup. According to the site, “Yahoo! Answers is a place where people ask each other questions on any topic, and get answers by sharing facts, opinions, and personal experiences.”

When asking a question on Yahoo Answers, users place the question into a category, where it stays open for 14 days. That time period can be shortened or extended. Once the question has been answered, the user can select the best answer or have other users vote for the best answer.

Google offers a similar service, but the answers will cost the user money; Google said on the site its answers are completely guaranteed. And the search services at Ask Jeeves, MSN Search, and AOL Search all have made attempts at providing “smart answers” via their query boxes, with varying degrees of success.

As to the question about being a movie extra, try moving to Central Kentucky the next time Hollywood decides to shoot another horse racing movie like Seabiscuit or Dreamer. There were plenty of opportunities to be extras in both movies.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.