It would be a tension to get answers to lots of questions in Stone Age but it is not much tension nowadays. The internet is making it lot easier. So, Yahoo! Answers gives you the perfect place to get your answers. The website works on a simple cycle, where a user asks a question and many users answers it, which goes on all the time and unusually may have the vice versa.
I have used the Yahoo! Answers and trust me, once you get a hold of it, you would never want to leave it. I am still on it and now I am a level 3 (levels?? Just go on reading).
Yahoo! Answers is a free service and you need to have a Yahoo! Account id to log in to the web site. Yahoo! Answers has wide range of categories to choose from, A to Y (Z too, but in sub category). Here are some steps how to get started.
If you haven’t yet signed up for Yahoo! Answers then go to the web site and log in with Yahoo! Account id. You must have noticed a link ‘Get started’, so click it and fill up some forms and you are on.
Creating a profile
When you get started you are asked to create your profile first. Here, you can put your nickname, customize your avatar, fill about you form, give your IM and email id (they can be set to private). If you put your email and IM private then your fans or friends may not be able to contact you, except answering or questioning.
Asking a question
After logging into the site, to ask a question, just click onto the ‘ask’ tab. In the new page that opens up, you can enter your question and add more details. After clicking ‘next’, you get to categorize your question into various sub-categories. What impressed us most about this step is that Yahoo! Answers gave a list of the most probable categorizations, automatically choosing the best option every time! Once that is done, the site allows you to preview your question and gives you the option of modifying it. When that is done you can click ‘OK’ and your question is posted to get answers.
After you ask the question there is 4 hours time until you can choose the best answer. You can also comment on the answer. If you don’t get any best answers then click on ‘no best answers’ and it will go for voting where other members vote the best answer for you. Anyway if you just leave the question as it for 2 days then it will again automatically go for voting. The voting lasts for 3 days(after the 2 days) but if there is a tie then the days becomes longer.
Answering a question
You can see loads of questions, questions are asked every second. So choose your category and choose a question you can answer. You will be taken to the page with the question and some more details about it. You just need to click ‘Answer this Question’ button. Then answer the question and list any references or sources to your answer.
To increase competition and improve the quality of answers on the site, there is a system of giving points which users can compete for. This is the where you get addicted, you greed for more and more points and most of all, the tag of ‘Top Contributor’ below your avatar in golden color. Here is the summary of the points.
Begin participating on Yahoo! Answers (One time) 100
Ask a question -5
Choose a best answer for your question 3
Answer a question 2
Deleting an answer -2
Log in to Yahoo! Answers Once daily 1
Vote for a best answer 1
Vote for No best answer 0
Your answer being selected as the best answer 10
Receive a “thumbs-up” rating on a best answer that you wrote (up to 50 thumbs-up are counted) 1 per “thumbs-up”
When you go on collecting the points you notice that your levels are getting increased. You start with level 1 and the maximum level is 7. You can only give thumbs up when you get to level 2 or higher. Other than level another thing to compete for is the tag of ‘Top Contributor’. Through research it has been proved that ‘Top Contributor’ be taken by answering as many questions as possible in a specific category. If you answer many questions days to days but changing categories then don’t be surprised for not having the ‘Top Contributor’. It is only when you have high rates of answers in a category, though you can get it for more than 1 categories. Remember ‘Top Contributor’ is temporary and depends on you.
The interface of the web site is very easy to use. There are tabs ‘ask’, ‘answer’ and ‘discover’ top. When you go on discovering the world of Yahoo! Answers you may want to add peoples who may be useful to you. You can add them; they will remain in your friends list and you on their fans list. Whenever you ask a question they will get noticed and you can get more qualitative answers. You can also email or chat (with messenger) with your friends or fans if they have email and IM enabled. A bad part may be; I could not see my email through the web site until I got email on my mail box and viewed it on the Yahoo! Answers website through a link. Hope you may find it and tell us how to see the email without logging into the mail box.
A positive or negative thumb can be given to answers; a total of 50 thumbs can be received by an answer. If the answer gets chosen as best answer then every ‘thumbs up’ is taken as 1 point. If a question is interesting then it can be given ‘stars’.
The privacy and security is tightly followed. If an offensive or inappropriate question is posted, it can be quickly flagged by users for removal from the site. Moreover Yahoo! Answers staffs also check for inappropriate answer or questions by themselves. My 2 answers were accused of not following the community guidelines and were blocked. I still don’t think my answers were out of the community guidelines. You send many replies to the Yahoo! Answers staff but they remain on their decision; there is only 0.1% chance to get an apologetic reply. Fortunately I was not banned. Once you get banned then it is possibly you are banned forever; so don’t try to get banned at least until you are a low level; when you get banned at high level you would only have to regret. Going through the community guideline is perhaps the best prevention.