Yahoo Answers; a poor place to go for accurate aquatic (pond and aquarium) information
Yahoo Answers is a good concept. Anyone who has a yahoo account is eligible to use this service.
This helps the forum from the point of view; it doesn't have to attract groups of users to build its service up from scratch. It is especially useful for asking questions such what is your favorite movie and why, HOWEVER in my nearly 30 years of professionally designing aquarium systems, maintenance, and research, I have to say Yahoo Answers has serious flaws in the organization and administration in it's terms of service.
Never have I seen a source geared at assisting fish keeper, deliver such poor and sub par service.
To support this very point, consider the procedures involved. We must first examine the point system.
Designed as a reward and promotion to get people to provide answers, it has transformed into the driving force for lower quality input in every section of Yahoo Answers.
In addition to the quest for point gaming there unfortunately is an invasion of Trolls (which include many so-called Top Contributors that come by and thumb down good answers and pad votes for anecdotal answers). They have taken over and YA seems disinterested in fixing this.
On a side note, recently, in a few answers I have tracked hits on references I have posted to back up my answers, only to see little or no change, thus proving lack of interest in good or accurate information (including by many so-called TC that will post behind me contradictory anecdotal information). In addition to that, many will "pile on" trying to get “Best answer” and then later pad their answers with votes, if the answer goes to voting.
As of now, I only go there (I have a VERY busy work schedule) to dispel the constant barrage of misinformation that passes for answers half the time, such as the extreme amount of misinformation when it comes to aquarium lighting that is beyond laughably false (I have seen many other so-called answers such as the correct aquarium silicone to use for aquarium repair and many more).
Yet another major flaw in planning reveals that one who would answer has little to no credibility unless you have a Top Contributor badge (as I have noticed based on answers chosen). There is a misleading impression that someone who happens to answer "x" amount of questions or obtains "z" amount of best answers is an expert. The mind set being, "This person carries a Top Contributor Icon, they must know what they are talking about".
I carry no ego, however, I do have more extensive experience in the area I answer in, Pets/Fish so I try to make time to come here at least a few times a day.
Due to excessive trolling here, several false reports of abuse have been filed in this section of late. It's rather clear to see, there is a problem with people with lesser knowledge and experience that feel their answers are right when in actuality, it's quite inaccurate.
I also notice that Yahoo Answers has a knowledge partners program, but getting in there seems unlikely but for a select “anointed” few (maybe some $$$$ too?)
That being said, not everything is negative about YA. There are a few who are truly interested in trying to help and make this work. In fact I answered a question by one of these Gentlemen of Yahoo Answers where I only answered to add more information and to second the already good answer that was there (actually there were a few excellent answers), needless to say this person picked that answer as best, which he should have since my answer was not meant in any way to compete, only enhance. This is how it should work, but this is how it rarely works.
If there were more "question askers" realizing this is not a popularity contest or actually reading over the input many give, I believe the trolls would lose interest and begin to fade away.
Yahoo Answers recently took away my Top Contributor badge (which of course lowers my credibility as stated earlier) even though I was answering more questions than usual over the last few weeks, most likely due to troll activity.
Worse yet, another gentleman of YA fish, who is incredibly experienced as well as gracious in the way he often words his answers LOST his Yahoo account due to trolls (most likely Mantra) there that have multiple accounts and use these to knock out the good Top Contributors at Yahoo Answers.
The reporting of abuse and disinformation is a noble idea and should be there, but the application of it is failing this service miserably.
The revamped system of community moderation has failed. Trolls are ever more present and dissolving any bit of credibility this service offers in the way of accurate information on fish care. It seems rather evident, that YA will only care if attendance drops and advertising money diminishes. Sad to say, it appears the mode is typical of the American way of life, "Unless it effects your wallet, why care?"
In another sad move on Yahoos side (which is doubly sad as I personally like their other services including what I think is the best search engine), is that not one email is being responded to by Yahoo (including the designer of Yahoo answers that used to be interested in making YA a good place for information).
As someone who has spent most of my adult AND childhood in the Aquarium hobby and especially in my professional capacity (maintenance, etc.) I have seen much of the damage bad information can do, with frustrated fish keepers, dead fish, and poor information treated like a fact being spread out like wildfire.
I and several others now have had ENOUGH. It is time for action. Suggestions have been posted and appears to have fallen on deaf ears. PLEASE, to all that read this and truly care about the integrity of the Aquarium and pond keeping hobby, BOYCOTT or at least try and avoid answering questions directly (use PM) at Yahoo Answers so that it will fold, your fish will thank you!
If you truly want better service and advice, this is NOT the place to find it.
By Carl Strohmeyer
With editing and additional information by Jon V.