After a 16 year run, a popular question-and-answer board, Yahoo! Answers, will shut down. The site started in 2005 as a community-driven forum where people could ask questions and get responses from anyone who wanted to weigh in.
Over the years, the questions asked have ranged from philosophical ones like, “What’s the meaning of life?” to more trivial questions like, “HOW DO I TURN CAPS LOCK OFF?”
Yahoo! Answers recently announced the site will permanently shutter on May 4 and said, “While the board was once popular, the needs of our members have changed.” As a result, the site will no longer be a haven for streams of burning questions.
What’s the purpose of Q&A sites?
Question and answer sites become popular in the early days of the internet. These sites served two purposes. First, to provide answers to questions, which were tough to find before search engines like Google and Bing came around. Second, to provide a sense of community. People could use these sites to ask a question and get help or advice from other like-minded people. Sometimes, questions sparked a fairly long and continued conversation that almost functioned like a chat room.
While some Q&A sites have become extinct in an ever-growing online world, many still remain. While Yahoo! Answers is logging off the internet forever, there are still other sites that offer a similar experience. Check out the list below to see Yahoo! Answers alternatives.
Quora has a mission to grow the world’s knowledge base by connecting people who have the knowledge to the people who need it.
Users can simply type a question into the search bar and it starts a conversation. As people respond, users get an email with the most recent comment so they don’t have to check the site dozens of times to get updates.
As a member, users can choose to follow different categories, which are called Spaces. You can follow Spaces like All Things Law, Mental Facts, or Interesting Psychology, for example.
The site does sell advertisements, so there might be a “sponsored” question or two, but the site labels them as such and keeps them to a minimum.
Reddit is a popular site with many uses, one of which is a question-and-answer forum. The site looks more like a social media feed, with popular questions, articles, and resources organized in a long thread. Users can sort through previously asked questions and answers or ask their own.
Questions are broken into fairly specific categories, with an endless number of responders able to provide their thoughts and feedback to the question at hand.
The site isn’t primarily a Q&A site, so some users might find it a bit too complex for their needs. Many “Redditors” love the diverse array of content though.
3. The Answer Bank
The Answer Bank is a UK-based site that provides a similar experience to Yahoo! Answers. On this site, you must register as a member first, and then you can ask questions that fall into any of their subject categories, which range from News and Gaming to Crosswords and Travel.
The site also offers a ChatterBank, which is akin to old-school chat rooms where people simply want to talk about their life.
The site does have several moderators that will remove comments that are negative or that break site rules.
Google runs a question-and-answer site known simply as Answers. The site has a more modern look than many of its competitors but has the same basic premise. In the About Us section, it says, “Some people have questions, others have answers. We’re the place where both sides meet.”
The site does categorize questions into eight different subjects and also provides a group of unanswered questions.
To encourage people to respond to questions, the site awards points to those who chime in with answers and keeps a leaderboard or top-answering members.
WikiHow is the go-to site for how-to content. The website, which started the same year as Yahoo! Answers, 2006, has a database of more than 5,000 question categories. Users can search through previously-asked questions, read helpful how-to articles, or ask their own questions.
If you decided to ask your own question, you’ll likely find a list of available content that provides an answer. A simple question like, “How do you wash clothes?” has 15 pages of results with the top-ranked responses vetted and labeled with markers like “Expert Co-Authored” or “Quality Tested.”
Users will notice several ads at the top of their search results, similar to how ads look after running a Google search.
6. Ask Me Help Desk
With one million members, Ask Me Help Desk has a solid number of members that use the site regularly to ask and answer questions. You must become a member to participate, but once you do, you’ll notice the site is set up a little differently than most. You can browse through questions, ask a question, answer a question, or conduct a search for questions and answers.
Unlike other sites, Ask Me Help Desk organizes questions into hundreds of different categories and even subcategories, so it’s just as easy to search for a question and a response as it is to ask a new question.
Started in 2006, BlurtIt is on a mission to become the largest question-and-answer site online. BlurtIt positions itself as more of an online community than a basic Q&A site and encourages people to respond to questions with their opinions, helpful resources, or personal experiences. Its purpose is to help people ask, learn, share, and grow.
The free site doesn’t award coins as other sites do for participation, but there is a “liking system” where users can star a favorite question or answer.
Fluther is another Q&A forum. Its motto is “Tap the Collective.” There’s a string of recently asked questions on the homepage along with a giant “Ask Anything” button for users to add their own questions to the mix.
On Fluther, questions are split into two categories: General and Social. A general question is meant to get factual, straightforward answers. People responding to general questions must follow strict guidelines. A social question is more relaxed and allows respondents to provide their opinion.
Mostly used by the younger generation, Ask.fm is set up like a social media channel where users ask questions about each other openly or anonymously. The site started in 2010 and is headquartered in Latvia. While the site has a smaller base of users than others on this list, it is growing quickly.
Before any questions can be asked, you must create an account that’s similar to the profile you’d create for Facebook. With a profile created, users are free to browse the questions, interact with users, and ask questions to the community.
Ask.com gives people a chance to pose questions and get responses easily. Just pop a question into the search bar and you’ll get immediate results. This site operates more like a search engine. On this site, people don’t respond to questions; instead, a variety of articles and resources pop up that should provide an answer.
This site has been around for a long time too. This site was formerly known as Ask Jeeves. When the site was sold in the early 2000s, the name changed to Ask.com, but its purpose remains the same.
Most of the sites on this list provide a community of people willing to answer questions, but how do you know if any of the people who respond are experts? JustAnswer has 12,000 verified experts on its site, which have all gone through an eight-step quality process to ensure their knowledge and level of expertise.
To get this kind of expertise, you’ll have to pay for it. To join JustAnswer, you’ll pay $74 a month. For that price, you ask a question and are matched with an expert whom you can talk, text, or chat with. Members can have an unlimited number of conversations and have access to experts 24/7.
12. Experts Exchange
Got a tech question? There’s a specific community that handles tech-based questions called Experts Exchange. This site pre-dates Yahoo! Answers as it started in 1996. The site boasts 3.9 million solutions for tech problems. Get answers on everything from databases and DevOps to Python and Powerpoint.
Like JustAnswer, to get this niche level of expertise, there’s a cost. Plans start at $19.99 and go up based on the features you’d like.
Yahoo! Answers might be leaving the online world, but there are still plenty of sites that provide a Q&A forum. Some sites are simply Q&A boards where questions are asked and answered, while others provide access to more specific, expert advice. While many of the alternatives to Yahoo! Answers are free to use, there are a few that charge a monthly membership fee. The list above should provide enough guidance to find a site that’s right for your specific needs.