Yahoo Answers Adds Social Networking

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Yahoo Answers, the question & answer social media exchange, has become a success for Yahoo, bringing the phenomena of social knowledge sharing to over 90 million worldwide Yahoo Answers users.

Now Yahoo has taken Yahoo Answers to the next level, adding Social Networking capability to the Yahoo Answers interface, where users can connect and ‘make friends’ with other Yahoo Answers members who share similar interests and backgrounds, Answers Network (BETA).

This video explains in detail the Answers Network:

International Social Network of 90 Million Users

Yahoo Answers, with the ‘flick of a switch’, has now become the Answers Network and in terms of social network size, is now one of the largest social networks online. Yes, Yahoo Answers now rivals MySpace and Facebook in terms of International reach and active member numbers.

But size is not all the Answers Network is about, it’s about niche social networking and in the tradition of other Yahoo social properties like MyBlogLog, Flickr’s “Contacts” and’ “Your Network”, the Yahoo! Answers Network Beta is working to enhance the overall user experience by helping people connect to the information they care about most through others with similar interests.

There is also nothing like Yahoo Answers on the social networking scene as Answers Network isabout sharing of original knowledge and not the sharing of news or information from external sites. is nothing like it, and the closest network I feel that has similarities to Yahoo Answers Network is StumbleUpon, as Yahoo Answers is built upon sharing knowledge and information and StumbleUpon is about sharing web sites and online info.

“Knowledge networking in Yahoo! Answers combines the power of the world’s knowledge with the trust and context of personal communities,” said Tomi Poutanen, senior director of product management for Yahoo! social search. “Knowledge networks make Yahoo! Answers a more personal, productive and interesting experience by directly connecting users to the information and people that are most interesting to them.”

Once Yahoo Answers users take advantage of the social networking they can keep track of the questions their friends asked, answered and ‘starred’ (a Yahoo Star means an answer was voted for being of quality, kind of like a Thumbs Up, a Digg or Vote).

Aspects of the Yahoo Answers Network:

Profile Pages : Similar to StumbleUpon, Yahoo Answers Network profile pages have your basic information and interests while also listing your friends and contacts in Yahoo Answers. Contacts are categorized via My Contacts and My Fans.

Updates : On the Yahoo Answers homepage, users will now be updated when others in their network ask and answer questions. These updates are categorized by Questions, Answers, and Stars.

Opt Out : If you do not want to join the social network you do not have to, users can go to the Edit My Info screen and uncheck the box that says “Allow other people to be my Fan” under the “Sharing” preferences.

Future of Yahoo , Answers & Social Network

The Yahoo Answers Network is quite basic right now, but should grow into a networking model which Yahoo can use amongst its various channels and within search.

For example, I would like to see Yahoo Answers from my Yahoo Answers Network ‘friends’ be the first Answers served in the Yahoo Search results Answers box (usually located at the bottom of Yahoo Search results). I think by doing so, Yahoo can integrate social networking into search quite easily.

Additionally, as stated before, Yahoo essentially has various social properties which are not yet connected, but seem to be on the verge of unification in the near future.

  • Yahoo Answers Network
  • Flickr
  • MyBlogLog
  • Yahoo News
  • Yahoo Finance
  • MyWeb
  • Yahoo Video
  • Yahoo Bookmarks 2.0
  • Yahoo Photos

These are all powerful social networks in one way or another which are building themselves vertically from the ground up and which all enjoy loyal followings.

Yahoo is Already One Big Social Network

Imagine what will happen one Yahoo connects all of these properties, all of the sudden will become a massive social network, much larger and active than MySpace and Facebook combined, and the Yahoo Network will thrive on the vibrant niche social channels below it.

Essentially, Yahoo will become the most organized and easy to use social network on the web. By the end of 2007, Yahoo will finally fill its social media potential and become an absolute threat to the smaller social media sites on the Internet, especially once Yahoo News becomes more of a social field.

And that, I believe, is the key. Yahoo has always been about humans connecting and sharing information:

  • Yahoo’s original search functionality was based upon discovering web sites which were recommended and reviewed by humans.
  • Yahoo Messenger is the connecting factor amongst Yahoo users and will be the core of the Yahoo social network.
  • Chat was the original Social Network, and Yahoo built its registered user base from Chat, Messenger and eMail : all forms of communication and sharing.
  • Yahoo Search’s mission is all about social networking : FUSE : Find, Use, Share, and Expand all human knowledge.

I believe that Yahoo has figured out that they do not have to go and buy Facebook for $1 Billion, hoping to compete with Fox Interactive.

Instead, Yahoo has gone the intelligent route in using all of the technology and loyal registered userbase at their disposal to build something which will be more popular, larger, informative and active than Facebook or MySpace.

Yahoo Answers Network is a logical first step in achieving this goal, and an original one. While Microsoft, Amazon and others are working to launch their own Q&A services to try and catch up with Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Answers has already gone and taken its service to the next level.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
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  • Sushubh

    could be awesome for them if they manage to pull it off!

  • Garrett French

    WOW. This is frikkin’ huge… nice catch Loren, and great article!

    So there’s an elephant stampede of ideas in my brain right now surrounding this news. Let me see if I can get them to march in a line:

    1) This could help to realize in a clear and concise way a true social search… especially for more reference, factual and how to types of searches.

    2) The power of the Stumble Upon system is its recommendations. If Yahoo can leverage community Q/A recommendations and provide searchers with an expert in a given area based on their network then some really neat things can start to happen.

    3) Stumble Upon is community built around certainty that you’ll find remarkable content. MySpace is community built around ease of connection (everyone’s in it). This Yahoo community is built around Q/A. If/when Yahoo pulls community data on the quality of answers the community/social media marketers will have to take note. Especially if Yahoo can help people know the overall score of a given answerer…

    4) Q/A could be a fairly dry and utilitarian area for a social network to form. Though there are certainly passion and hobby areas that will form here, and many forums I participate in are founded on expert hobbyists sharing info, if the conversation is to be kept strictly to Q/A we may see slow adoption due to the lack of “water cooler chat.”

    5) valuable communities they will not tap – those loyal already to forums and list serves… the most passionate web users who are here for community are already embedded in forums that they call home. Convincing them to spend time in one more place online may take more than a profile page and the ability to link to your friends…

    6) Also, will there by any tie in with Yahoo’s current offering of small business profile pages? I can imagine a sort of MerchantCircle kind of thing for certain local business owners who want to demonstrate their offering to a wider audience while showing local folks who visit their profile that they are active in the web community.

    7) Amazon Friends – I just discovered this social shopping network built around common interests and reminiscent of StumbleUpon friend groups… I think Yahoo should be integrating its shopping into the social network framework too, and Q/A is a great place to tie everything together if that’s where they choose to (finally) start to connect the dots.

  • Garrett French

    8) there are some potentially slick tie ins with MyBlogLog going here… watch out Bloggers – Yahoo’s coming for you with a guaranteed audience and great distribution 😉

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Garrett, I think the MerchantCircle approach would be interesting. Yahoo has already set up extensive profiles for local businesses, and the ability for their user base to review and rate such establishments, but the communication is one way – in the social setting atleast.

    The ability for businesses to use Yahoo to ‘mingle’, I’d also imagine, could become a new revenue generation channel with Yahoo Panama b2b ads.

    Heck, if Panama works up to expectation, almost ever new Yahoo offering should become a revenue generation channel… and if its user generated media which is constructing such channels; all the better.

  • ed

    one piece that currently seems to be missing, but yahoo has the technology, is to expand and integrate the website building tools from geocities into its social networking sites. i can see the new myyahoo launch incorporating some of these customization/personalization tools… and hopefully they’ve improved them with ajax technology. it could get really interesting if yahoo buys aol or ebay.

  • John

    Really great article, I agree that tying all these pieces together could help make Yahoo! a daunting competitor, even for Google.

  • Gregg Kell

    When, not if, Yahoo! pulls this off, we have an even bigger reason for BillG at Microsoft to spend some of his huge stack & buy Yahoo!

  • Harry

    LinkedIn launched their answers service in January … so there actually is something similar in the networking space.

  • Alex

    Indeed, the networking features discussed in this post were introduced by Linkedin Answers first. Yahoo was very quick to imitate them. The original Yahoo Answers service is also an imitation of Naver Knowledge-iN Q&A service. Yahoo Answers is indeed the biggest knowledge market, but otherwise it is not unique.

  • Jade Koyle

    LinkedIn launched an answers section that already does much of what Yahoo! is planning to do. I can see LinkedIn’s has been very successful so I expect Yahoo! will have a lot of success here. However, one of the things that makes LinkedIn so useful is you can learn about credibility of the people answering the questions with connections, contacts, and recommendations. It will be hard for Yahoo! to compete with LinkedIn quality.

  • Steve Barr

    I can not imagine how you possibly could have written this article and totally missed Yahoo’s 360 program.

  • Cesar Brea

    Hi, Thanks for prompting me to look at this service. I wrote my own review of my experience with it (with a link to this article) on


    Cesar Brea

  • Piter

    I think, Yahoo it will not help, as google grows worldwide.

  • Nicki

    I agree, Google now much more popularly and more conveniently, than Yahoo.

  • Advokat

    Hi there,

    This is some pretty cool thing you got going here. Gonna check out the remaining site pages to see if there are any updates. 😉

    Cheers! 🙂

  • Mudassir

    haye very well written and informative post, can you provide me the trackback link of your post please?

  • A.Steroid

    Social networks – it’s a great thing for most sites, but not for all (((( Where have you seen social networks, dedicated to some types of diseases? I don’t mean different LJ-communities and forums.

  • Web design Brisbane

    It’s about time Yahoo started kicking Googl;e’s butt. This new application might just do it.

  • Neeraj Kumar

    I have a social networking and entertainment portal just launched. Just I want your opinion and suggestion to improve this. Just visit us at

  • bhanvad

    wow, that is big numbers by many users

  • John

    that is very nice

  • bhanvad

    wow, that is big numbers by many users

  • John

    that is very nice