Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I am not trying to be snarky when I say this, so I'll make it longer than a single word.


That is, Y! Answers was/is a great idea with terrible results. I'm not sure if it should have been moderated better, or if it should have been marketed better. Hell, maybe it should have had a basic literacy test prior to being allowed to post and answer?

I could actually come up with a few hundred ways to have made it better. We know the question and answer format works. It does on many, many sites. It failed there and, largely, that's because of the users. I'm not sure which was worse, the questions or the answers.

I'd love to be given that project and tasked with improving it. It's a great idea, but horribly implemented. I'd like to fix it because I'm fond of trying the impossible and like fixing broken things.

Improving search for it is absolutely not going to help it. No, that's not going to help in the slightest.

FWIW, there was a research team at Yahoo who would actually get insights about the way people used language (relevant for contextual search) from Yahoo Answers. They were more active during the earlier years when the content quality was much higher. I don't know if they used Vespa in their mining process, but it would not surprise me if they did. Vespa is used in many projects because it's just that good. So if you are thinking of using it -- for Yahoo Answers, for Quora, whatever, go for it. I know a cancer researcher/engineer who wants to use Vespa for serving clinical reports and trial outcomes.

As for the current Answers site, well, we'll see what happens. I know the PM, a delightful person. I don't know the plan. But if there is a plan to make something useful from it, apply. It apparently makes money (otherwise it would have been killed long ago), and that means there's something to work with. When I started at Yahoo I was hoping to get onto the Groups team for the same reason -- a huge challenge to fix something that could be made cool again.

Yep, the old maxim "garbage in, garbage out". Yahoo! was the biggest internet company out there (maybe AOL was bigger). You had the whole population in all its warty glory using Yahoo as the default search engine, landing page, email, and who knows what else.

Plus answers was done at a time when we were extremely naive about the wisdom of crowds and open source knowledge. Later efforts learned from those early 2000s failures. I'm pretty sure Joel Spolsky specifically called out Yahoo Answers when he was talking about what Stack Overflow was going to do right in his early announcements.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact