Yahoo! Answers blog

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Hey everyone,

Doing things twice instead of once is always a bit silly, so recently we decided it would be best to make the US blog (US) the main focus for everyone who speaks English and wants to keep up to date with everything going on in the world of Answers.

On the US Answers blog you’ll find everything from product updates to Answers news, celebrities and topical posts,  competitions and of course Ask Mike (US), who blogs on curious, thought-provoking topics. You can leave your comments as well as Tweet and Liking posts on Facebook.

This means that for the foreseeable future the UK & Ireland Answers blog will point to the US Blog so for fresh news you’re better off heading there.  All our older UK & Ireland posts will remain here, from topical stories to our favourite, the profiles of amazing contributors that we call Featured Users.

Thanks for all your feedback over the years,

-          Yahoo! UK & Ireland Answers team

Stay safe online with Yahoo!

On February 8, 2011, Yahoo! will be joining forces with INSAFE, to celebrate Safer Internet Day and to help raise awareness about safety online.

Answer our special question: here.

This year, efforts will address safety around “virtual lives” encompassing online gaming and social networking. The slogan for 2011 is, “It’s more than a game, it’s your life.” Staying online and being connected has become critical for today’s youngsters, and not being connected frequently means social exclusion.


It’s easy to take part in this exciting one-day event!

• Learn more about online safety tips
• Share these online safety tips with your family and friends through Yahoo! Pulse, Facebook and Twitter
• Participate in the global Safer Internet Day Fair
• Share your own advice with the Answers community

Learn more about online safety tips

Think before you post. How you represent yourself online – the way you play games, the photos and texts you share, your avatar, and your profile – all add up to who you are. Invest in your online image.

Be a good sport when online. If you wouldn’t do it on the field, don’t do it online.

Take action and report bullying. By standing by and watching, laughing, or doing nothing when you see bullying happen, you become part of the problem. Don’t be a passive bystander.

Spread positivity when texting. Texting is core to staying connected and what you text is a reflection of you. Be thoughtful about what you text and confident that your texts portray you the right way. Remember messages can be misunderstood without body language to support your meaning.

Get out and connect with your world. It’s estimated that teens spend 7.5 hours a day watching some form of media. The Internet is fun, rich world, but don’t forget to unplug sometimes. Get out and connect with your friends in the real world.

Learn more about online safety. Yahoo! Safely is a global resource that provides parents, educators and teens with tips and advice on online safety. The site covers important topics such as managing digital reputations, avoiding cyber-bullying, and learning how to minimize risks on mobile devices, as well as provides guidance on how to safely use specific Yahoo! products, as well as a Yahoo! Answers Safety Guide.

Share these online safety tips for youth with your family and friends

Support Safer Internet Day by updating your Yahoo! Pulse status with:
“It’s more than a game, it’s your life:

Help drive awareness of online safety by sharing this blog post on Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy – just click `Like` or `Tweet` from the box at the bottom of this blog post to share it online.

Participate in the Safer Internet Day Fair
Join us in a “real” celebration of our virtual lives in the SID fair, by registering online or contacting your national awareness centre or SID committee. A video clip has been created in all official EU languages. Watch the clip and find further information about the activities being organised in your country through the Insafe website.

Share your own advice with the Answers community
Now over to you to share your own advice with the Answers community by sharing your tips on how to stay safe online in this week’s featured question:

What are your best tips for staying safe on the Internet?

The best answer will receive a bonus 50 points and an additional `top 5` best tips will receive 10 points each!

Here’s to staying safe online – not just on Safer Internet Day, but EVERYDAY!

– Yahoo! UK & Ireland Answers team

The Answers community is about to get even bigger!

Currently, as a pre-requisite to participate on Yahoo! Answers, we ask that you have a Yahoo! ID to sign-in to the Yahoo! network. This in turn is where your identity on both Yahoo! and Answers is managed from.

Now, as part of Yahoo’s moves to make the web a more social and open place we are opening up Answers to people with Google or Facebook IDs too.

We appreciate people don’t want to be overwhelmed by different logins for each site you want to participate in on the web and through a technology called OpenID we’re able to eliminate the need for multiple logins across different Web sites.

After you sign-in with your Google or Facebook ID you’ll be able to fully participate on Yahoo! Answers.

Check out this video to see how easy it is to sign-in with a Google or Facebook ID:

A few points to note:

  • For existing Answers members you’ll still see all of your existing content when you login with your Yahoo! ID. However you also have the option to `bind` your Facebook/Gmail account with your Yahoo! account. If you choose to do this you’ll be able to see all of your Answers content when logged in with either your Gmail or Facebook account. Read this help page to find out how to do this*
  • If you sign in with your Facebook ID you still control what is published to your Facebook feed from Answers through the checkbox on the ask/answer flow. Your activity on Answers will not automatically be published on your Facebook feed.
  • OpenID isn’t available for the Mobile version of Answers just yet… we’re working on it though and we expect to make it available in the coming months
  • All participants using Google or Facebook IDs will still be subject to our Yahoo! ToS and Answers Community Guidelines when contributing to the site.

For further information on Yahoo! Fast Pass check out the Yodel Anecdotal blog post:

Inspiration 2011


2011 has just begun and this is traditionally the time when everyone sets resolutions that they want to fulfil in the coming year. Whether you want to climb a serious mountain, finally try out grandma’s cake recipe that has been lying around for ages, or plan to do something good for your local community, now’s your moment. Think about what you are planning and if you’re inspired, why not share your aspirations by answering this question:

Pictures paint a thousand words, as the expression goes, so that’s why we created the Flickr group “Inspiration 2011”. Here you can look at what other people have been thinking of or share photos that represent your inspiration and the goal you want to achieve in 2011. Take a look at some of the shots currently shared…

Here’s to a happy 2011!

– Yahoo! UK & Ireland Answers team

Slam the boards

“As a reference librarian, I find it tremendously satisfying to help people find answers to their questions… If I discover a new environment where people are posing questions, it’s kind of in my blood to want to get in there and look stuff up!” -- SlamtheBoards’ Bill P

The Colorful Library of an Interaction Designer (Juhan Sonin) / 20100423.7D.05887.P1 / SML

Today is #SlamtheBoards day, a monthly collaboration by librarians worldwide to answer questions outside their daily physical bricks and mortar domain. It’s the brainchild of Answers contributor Bill P and with Answers  Knowledge Partners Enquire participating. Read our interview will Bill below…

Interview: Bill P from #Slamtheboards

Yahoo! Answers team: Hey Bill, can you tell me what #slamtheboards is, in essence?

Bill P: “Slam the Boards is an attempt to get reference librarians from around the US and the world to visit “answer board” sites like Yahoo! Answers and use our particular skills to help provide well-researched answers. Since Sept. 10, 2007, librarians are reminded to “slam” on the 10th of each month, although they’re welcome to participate at any time that’s convenient.”

“We let the users know that a librarian answered the question and also provide information on how to contact a library. We’re not trying to take users away from these services, but letting them know that working with a librarian is often a useful way to get authoritative information when you really need it.”

“Lately, we’ve started using the #slamtheboards hash tag on Twitter so we can follow each other’s activity. You can see more details on the supporting wiki.

Y!AT: When did it start and who started it?

Bill P: “The idea came from a discussion between me and Caleb Tucker-Raymond (a colleague from Oregon) at a librarians’ conference in Denver in August 2007. I suggested that there should be a concerted effort to get librarians to look for questions beyond the library environment, especially in the new online social sites that were appearing at that time. He suggested that there should be a single focus date and I chose September 10. In the course of the next month, I just did a lot of informal marketing and got a lot of messages out on professional mailing lists, had some interviews, etc. and created a bit of a buzz for it. You can see some of that in the 2007 entries.

Y!AT: Who participates, how often and where?

Bill P: “It’s practically impossible to know even approximately how many librarians are doing this at any given time.”

“We had a lot of reporting from the first slam in 2007 and saw librarians around the world participating–the US, Denmark, the UK, Australia. It was easy to build up a lot of support for a one-time event, and participation has clearly settled at a lower baseline level since then. However, there are clearly signs of life each month as a several of us answer questions. I’ve also been getting feedback about library school instructors having their graduate students participate as a way to understand new ways of finding questions that people ask beyond the library.”

Y!AT: What is the driving force behind #slamtheboards, the fundamental motivation?

Bill P :  “There are two main motivations. First, as a reference librarian, I find it tremendously satisfying to help people find answers to their questions. It’s something I do dozens of times a day. If I discover a new environment where people are posing questions, it’s kind of in my blood to want to get in there and look stuff up!”

“Second, there’s a promotional aspect. We’re starting to realize that a lot of users don’t understand that a library is more than just a collection of books and DVDs in a building, that we’re actually an organization that provides services like helping you find answers to your questions, no matter what sources we need to use to do that. Having librarians show up on sites like Yahoo! Answers is a way to remind users that we’re actually quite good at this “answering questions thing” and that there are certain types of questions you might want to think about us for first!”

Y!AT: What questions do you personally answer and why?

Bill P: “Finding the right questions is really the biggest trick for us. So much of what goes on here is social and discussion (“What do you think of this musician?,” “Why should I vote for this politician?”), but I try to look for questions that are looking for some type of facts or details. They can be on almost any topic — I skip around a lot. However, being from the Chicago metropolitan area, I keep an eye out for questions specific to my town or the surrounding suburbs. Still, if you looked through my accumulated answers, you’d see quite a mix, which keeps it all very interesting to me.”

The British Library

Slam the Boards all over the world…

Over the years Slam the Boards has had lots of different participants. Jaclyn McKewan from the Western New York Library Resource Council (WNYLRC) hosted a webinar around slamming and she’s not alone. Here’s a few testimonials from other people who got involved…


Enquire are an umbrella organisation for librarians and are one of UK & Ireland Answers’ most committed and diligent Knowledge Partners. They participate in #Slamtheboards too.

“Libraries are in dire straights, there is no two ways about it. However, an overriding passion in library reference services is that of information discovery and helping a user access information they couldn’t find before, or helping them navigate their way around the internet with guidance that allows them to help themselves better. It is what libraries do and that message is vitally important.

“For me personally it encompassed the sentiments above as well as feeling very proud of what Enquire has achieved, we have great information professionals working in increasingly hard environments and to still be able to maintain great customer service and provide high quality answers, then for me not to be involved and get stuck in would be plain wrong.”

– Joanne John, UK & Ireland Answers Knowledge Partner, Enquire

Professor Loriene Roy, U of T

Loriene Roy is professor in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin (and Past President of the American Library Association). Once a year she teaches a graduate course, “Introduction to Information Resources and Services,” AKA basic reference. One of the student assignments requires students to participate in Slam the Boards! and write a reflective essay about their experience.

Roy wrote an article about the experience that was published recently in “The Reference Librarian.” That included the following student experiences and reflections from participating on Yahoo! Answers:

“I loved seeing my answer chosen as the best one and getting some positive [comments] written from the asker. Even though finding a question to answer was stressful, the patron’s gratitude and my satisfaction at providing her with the information that she needed made me feel like the whole experience was worth it.”

“I was not quite prepared for the pride I felt when my questioner voted my response as the best…  I was very satisfied that he/she thanked me for a “well thought out answer.”

If you contribute to Answers then you’ll have experienced that sense of pride too, just as Bill and Enquire do too. Here’s to many more SlamtheBoards in 2011!

– Yahoo! UK & Ireland Answers team