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.
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.
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.