Yahoo has officially launched a mobile app version of its Q&A product. Called Yahoo Answers Now, it’s available on iOS and Android devices for those in the U.S. and promises that users will receive “quality answers quickly” from others with relevant experiences and expertise.
If you’re not familiar with Yahoo Answers, it launched in 2005 and has remained a place for questions even with the rise of services like Reddit, Quora, and Jelly. Today more than 300 million people use it monthly to find answers to their problems. Of course, it’s not exactly a bastion for quality questions like you’d find on Quora — in 2009, PC World highlighted the 20 “dumbest questions” on Yahoo Answers, including gems like this one: “My mouse stop working every time I lift it up from the table why is this? this is not just OS. i have linux and visa both same thing so its not drivers.”
Naroo Krishnan, Yahoo’s director of product management, defended the quality of the service, saying, “With Answers Now, we are re-imagining the Q&A experience for mobile users by focusing on Q&A rather than topic and discussion. Additionally, content is surfaced by relevance tailored to each user. Lastly, we use push notifications to facilitate smart matching of asker and responder for faster answers.”
Among the features of Yahoo Answers Now include being able to pair you with “qualified responders” with the knowledge to provide high-quality answers. This means that if you ask about the Electoral College, you’re not going to get someone with zero knowledge about U.S. politics or government to respond. You can now also follow users — previously you had to manually remember the people of interest. If you get a response you like, you can tap a button to express your thanks and use an emoji to really show your appreciation.
Answers can be provided using rich media such as images and links. Maybe explaining your response using a graphic, table, or chart is better than using text — this could be helpful in the responses.
While Yahoo is making a case that Yahoo Answers Now is available today, word leaked about the app in November. According to TechCrunch, the app was previously branded as Yahoo Hive and had been in the App Store since summer.
“We believe that recent advancements in natural language understanding and machine learning open up opportunities to innovate when integrated with mobile Q&A. Given our work in artificial intelligence, we’re well positioned to leverage these technologies to take Q&A to the next level,” Krishnan explained.
Because it’s a place for opinion, one of the more obvious things to be concerned about is harassment and abuse, similar to what Twitter is trying to curb. Krishnan sought to reassure users, saying that Yahoo has “an internal moderation team that will investigate user submissions related to inappropriate content. They will also proactively monitor for inappropriate content. Content that violates our community guidelines and terms of service is subject to action. Users that violate the rules are subject to being banned.”
The official launch of Yahoo Answers Now follows other mobile releases the company has made over the past year and seemingly is one of the final acts before Yahoo’s acquisition by Verizon closes, which is currently undergoing some issues itself. Some mobile apps that have been introduced include one to find bots, another to let you watch Hulu shows with a Tumblr-powered fan experience, a TV guide app for video-streaming services, and more.