Although spam is not a problem I encounter often, Yahoo Answers is taking some pretty bold steps to combat what it calls “low-quality questions and answers.”
There has always been a way to report junk, but out of all the spam I’ve reported, I don’t ever recall seeing any action. That should change now that Yahoo Answers users will have a much bigger role in policing the system. Here’s what’s happening:
1.) Yahoo has written new Community Guidelines.
2.) Yahoo is giving the community more power to moderate itself. Each question and answer has a small toolbar which includes a very visible “Report It” button.
3.) Each user will develop a trust/reputation score while using the service.
4.) “Trusted reporters” will gain influence. But, these users are not identified and won’t even know themselves that they’ve reached this status. Trusted reporters are not the same as “Top Contributors.”
5.) Users with low reputation scores risk being removed from Yahoo Answers altogether.
No. 2 is where it gets really interesting.
Yahoo has a beta system in place now which measures the reputation of each user to determine how to handle the report. When a report is submitted, the new system measures the trust-level of the reporter and the reportee to determine if the question or answer can automatically be removed. If not, Yahoo Answers staff will review the report.
What does it mean?
Reputation is now a key factor in your success on Yahoo Answers (as it should be). Trusted users have more influence when moderating. So, if the system works, it should be easier for quality users to remove spammy questions and answers, and perhaps even the spammer himself, too. And to be safe, there’s a manual appeal process in place to deal with “false positives” — when a question or answer is incorrectly removed by a spam report.
Also, with the new system in place, Yahoo says the junk should be handled more quickly: “In general, abusive content will be removed much faster than the couple of hours it typically took in the old model.”
So, can I not market on Yahoo Answers anymore?
You still can, as long as you’re doing so as a helpful contributor, which is they key to marketing on any social media site. In fact, Yahoo Answers is about the only social media site I’m aware of which recognizes that using the service can be good for some professionals.
The Community Guidelines document I referenced above clarifies YA’s stance on using the service as a marketing tool. They say Yahoo Answers is not a place to “gain customers or page views,” but:
“…it’s OK to accompany a good, on-topic answer with a link to your website, blog, or email to offer more information. However, it is not OK to post links that are unrelated to the topic or are clearly meant only to solicit others for personal and financial gain.”
If you’re not familiar with Yahoo Answers, don’t get excited about “link juice.” All links in questions and answers are no-followed. The benefit from using Yahoo Answers is traffic, not link juice.
From the Yahoo Answers blog:
How will you use community moderation to improve Yahoo! Answers? (initial announcement)
Do you have questions about community moderation? (follow-up post)
There’s also likely to be ongoing discussion about the new moderation system in the Yahoo Answers category of Yahoo Answers.
Here on SBS: