Yahoo Answers will close forever, according to an announcement on the site, as first reported by the brink. Final questions can be sent until April 20, and the entire website will be scorched from the internet before May 4, 2021, thus ending the 16-year-old board to one of the dumbest places on the internet.
What Yahoo Answers lacked in contributing to the pantheon of world knowledge it compensated for in its heroic advances in memorable ridiculous content. BuzzFeed has run lists of stupid and silly questions from the site over the years, and the most famous is the question “how is babby formed,”
Like all really stupid things, Yahoo Answers, which has been owned by Verizon since 2017, had many things rolled into one. It was the library in Alexandria for sincere seekers of knowledge, like those who wanted to learn how the girl becomes pragnent. It was an extremely cunning ploy for SEO traffic, but also a half-baked social platform, where users could spend time answering social etiquette and advice questions.
Given that Section 230, legislation that protects platforms such as Yahoo or Facebook from being held legally responsible for content posted by users, is currently up for debate, Verizon may have looked at the fun of Yahoo Answers and chosen to save itself for the headache.
Yahoo has a long and glorious history of shutting down large parts of itself, a wild fox gnawing at various traps from a trap in its attempt to maintain relevance and cut costs. In 2009, Yahoo Geocities, one of the largest archives of Internet culture from the Y2K era, closed. Del.ic.ious was sold off in 2011, Flickr in 2018. Yahoo Messenger was shut down in 2018. At the end of 2019, Yahoo Groups was sent to digital Valhalla.
Verizon acquired AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017, merging them into a new content company called Oath (no, seriously), along with Tumblr and the Huffington Post. Tumblr was sold to Automattic, the company that owns WordPress in 2019, and HuffPost was sold to BuzzFeed *checking the calendar* about 2 months ago.
“It’s clear that Verizon bought Yahoo and never wanted to be in the user content business. And every move they have made has been the most craven corporate, reduced responsibility, reduced exposure they can do, “Jason Scott, of the Archive Team, a group working to preserve old sites, told BuzzFeed News.
The Archive Team encrypted to make copies of Geocities when it was shut down at short notice back in 2009 (a collection from this curated by artist Olia Lialina called One Terabytes of Kilobyte Age examines ancient Geocities sites).
“We have already taken up Yahoo Answers before, we did it 4 years ago. We knew what was going to happen, “said Scott. “We do not trust any Yahoo owner, period.”
Despite the stupidity, there is certainly valuable information there that can only be found in the answers that will be lost forever (or only found in an archive, which is harder to access than just a Google result).
That a large part of the internet history is deleted is not new at this time, and the feeling is so familiar that it does not seem to sting so much. “We do not know how much of the internet depends on connecting to this, or treating this as first-hand knowledge,” Scott said. “What we lost is that we lose part of our oral history, whether we like it or not.”