Yahoo Answers dominated the world of online question-answer platforms. Its position on the internet as a pioneer in web Q&A made it immensely popular among internet buffs. But Yahoo Answers’ story is now coming to an end. Yahoo announced last week that it would discontinue the question-and-answer service on May 4, 2021, The Verge reported.
According to Yahoo’s announcement, the Q&A platform will enter a read-only mode on April 20. That means users will no longer be able to post questions or answers after April 19. On the shutdown day, May 4, 2021, the platform will no longer be accessible. Users can request to get their data until June 30.
Why Yahoo Answers Is Shutting Down
Yahoo launched the question-and-answer platform in 2005. It was one of the few sites making remarkable inroads in the internet universe. And over the past 16 years, Yahoo Answers has seen the internet evolve dramatically. As more and more platforms joined the user-generated content domain, Yahoo failed to keep up.
With a meteoric rise of question-answer platforms like Quora and Reddit, Yahoo Answers’ popularity waned significantly. While it has remained relevant as a meme haven, its relevance as a Q&A forum has all but vanished.
Yahoo’s Meteoric Rise and Complicated Fall
Yahoo is the legacy of Web 1.0. It’s now owned by Verizon Media Group. Verizon, a telecom giant, acquired Yahoo in 2017 for nearly $5 billion. Forbes writer Brian Solomon called it “the saddest $5 billion deal in tech history.”
Yahoo had a glorious beginning — even before Google and Facebook. It was the king of the internet long before the era of digital transformation solutions taking over everything. “Our company was five years old. “We were worth more than Ford, Chrysler, and GM combined. Hell, we were worth more than Disney, Viacom, and News Corp combined. Each of those great American brands could have been swallowed up by us,” wrote Jeremy Ring, a top sales executive at Yahoo from 1996 to 2001, in his memoir, “We Were Yahoo.”
Why the Internet Giant Yahoo Failed
Different analysts have different theories as to why Yahoo failed. Ring says Yahoo’s most damaging mistake was not adopting paid search ads – something Google relies on heavily. By the time the company realized its mistake, Google was already ahead. Worse yet, instead of competition with Google’s search system, Yahoo planned to build its own ad platform from scratch.
Yahoo’s second CEO, Terry Semel, tried to convert the company into a media giant. Its eighth and final CEO, Marissa Meyer, wanted to build a mobile tech company out of Yahoo. None of them was trying to get rid of Yahoo’s revenue-generating legacy model. And all of us now know the consequences.
Yahoo Answers’ Unsurprising Decline
Yahoo Answers sent a not to active users, providing a little info about why it was scrapping the forum. It said that the platform has become less popular over the years and that Yahoo decided the shift its resources elsewhere. Here’s an excerpt from the note that Yahoo Answers posted.
“Dear Yahoo Answers Community,
We launched Yahoo Answers sixteen years ago to help people around the world connect and share information. With you and millions of other users, we built the best place on the web to ask and answer questions on a variety of topics, creating a community of global knowledge sharing. While we could not have been prouder of what we accomplished together, we are reaching out today to let you know that we have decided to shut down Yahoo Answers on May 4th, 2021.
While Yahoo Answers was once a key part of Yahoo’s products and services, it has become less popular over the years as the needs of our members have changed. To that end, we have decided to shift our resources away from Yahoo Answers to focus on products that better serve our members and deliver on Yahoo’s promise of providing premium trusted content.”
A Shutdown for the Best?
Most observers of the internet culture are calling the shutdown a welcome move. According to them, the site has lately become a haven for far-right conspiracy theorists. For instance, recent questions listed on the homepage include:
- “Will America survive 4 years of Joe Biden?”
- “Will liberals cry when Trump wins in 2024?”
- “I think George Floyd died from HEALTH ISSUES?”, etc.
Yahoo previously shut down Yahoo Groups and deleted the site after allowing users to download their data. Salient characteristics of the internet will keep bringing an end to platforms like Yahoo Answers. Users’ ever-decreasing attention span, non-existent loyalty, and constant evolution mean platforms will most likely fail if they don’t transform with trends.
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