Yahoo Answers is still around, but not for much longer. The forum for user-submitted questions and answers is shutting down on May 4, the company announced today. The once-popular platform launched in 2005 and was an early entrant in the web 2.0 era that emphasizes websites with user-generated content over static webpages.
The shutdown news also comes after the original Space Jam website, first launched in 1996, has been replaced by a promotional page for the upcoming sequel movie. It’s a lot of pain for a Monday.
“Yahoo Answers is shutting down on May 4th, 2021 (Eastern Time) and beginning April 20th, 2021 (Eastern Time) the Yahoo Answers website will be in read-only mode,” reads a notice atop the Yahoo Answers website. “There will be no changes to other Yahoo properties or services, or your Yahoo account.”
According to a FAQ page, users can request their data be exported until June 30, after which it will become inaccessible.
Years of decline — It’s not surprising that Yahoo would shut down the site. It once dominated the space for Q&A sites; any tween or teen searching Google for answers to common questions — like “will swallowing a watermelon seed make me grow a watermelon baby?” — would be led Yahoo Answers. But the site has been in steady free-fall for years. Quantcast reported that Yahoo Answers had 24 million monthly active users in January 2010, but by November 2015 that number had fallen 77 percent to 5.6 million. Google Trends also provides a clue of how many people are visiting Yahoo Answers these days:
Ever since Yahoo was acquired by Verizon in 2017, the company has been shedding assets and simplifying around its most successful products, like Yahoo Finance and Sports. It sold Tumblr to Automattic in 2019, and in 2020 it announced it would shutter Yahoo Groups, essentially a Reddit-like site where people could create discussion boards for their own communities.
Focus on quality — Yahoo Answers has become the butt of jokes in recent years over the quality of content on the site, or lack thereof. Anyone can submit answers and unsurprisingly, many aren’t based on any broad or deep knowledge — or they are just plain unintelligible as they’re likely written by younger users. That’s probably why traffic has dwindled, and Yahoo saw no reason to continue running a social media site that has become littered with bad information. Especially because it has been doubling down on authoritative news content, with plans to invest in Yahoo+, a subscription bundle that gives customers access to premium content across brands like TechCrunch and Yahoo Finance. That strategy of providing quality is at odds with Yahoo Answers.
“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,” reads an email sent to Yahoo Answers users. “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.”
Despite the disrepair it has fallen into today, many millennials surely have fond memories of perusing the site as kids, asking for the answers to life’s most important questions and answering others in hopes of increasing their rank on the service. RIP.