Yahoo! Answers and the Deleted Answer, a resurgence of interest

Ok, there seems to be a renewal of interest over my posts regarding a deleted answer from Yahoo! Answers I blogged about over half a year ago.

As far as I can see this whole thing was a domino effect of:

  1. Someone didn’t like my answer and flagged it. Either someone with a high rank, or several people with medium ranks. Or it could have been the person who asked the question.
  2. Someone at Yahoo (who is probably ignorant about open source) made a quick decision and moved on.
  3. Someone got an e-mail reply from me regarding the letter saying my answer was deleted, but they didn’t respond immediately.
  4. Someone found out about my blog posts and contacted me, further explaining Yahoo’s reasoning.
  5. Someone got my official dispute and forwarded it onto the person in #4, who restated the same reasoning.
  6. Someone from #3 looked over the situation and decided to reverse the deduction of points.

All in all, do I think it’s a systematic bias against open source? No, I don’t see firm proof of this. Do I think it was malevolent / a conspiracy? No.

[edit] But, do I think that Yahoo’s without it’s biases? No, it’s guaranteed to have it’s priorities in some areas that would lend it to being biased. It’s logically impossible to not be biased in some way.

I think it was a culmination of a few people with not enough info and not enough time. It happens.

So why did I blog about this? Like I’ve said before, I wanted to see if this was a one-off or if it was a systematic policy that no one talked about. I also wanted to see if making a small fuss about something I disagree with would make a difference. It did, but not in the ways I was aiming for – I wanted to provoke a change in Yahoo, not be a tipping point for people to boycott Yahoo.

Don’t get me wrong, Yahoo’s got a lot of issues; for example their chat has a nasty habit of kicking people off for no reason or just not working properly. I personally object to the blending of the Yahoo and MSN chat networks, but they’re not my companies, not my choice. I’d just use Pidgin for this “problem”.

Looking back, I think the things that still annoy me are:

  1. The person who originally asked the question didn’t get to see my answer, even after the decision about it’s “violating the rules” was overturned
  2. I didn’t get an apology from anyone
  3. The person in #5 came across as quite abrupt and dismissive
  4. Nothing changed, except a few people’s perception of Yahoo

So what’s the result? A few people are ticked off at Yahoo, a few people are ticked off at me. People are now discussing whether open source should be censored, people are talking about whether open source is a viable replacement for Windows. I got my little bit of time in the spotlight.

Beyond that, I can’t see the ripples that my pebble caused in the lake of the world, but I flatter myself that the ripples will continue in their own way for a while.

On a tangent: a few people have said I’m too patient, too idealistic and too forgiving. What do you think?

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2 Responses to “Yahoo! Answers and the Deleted Answer, a resurgence of interest”

  1. drmike Says:

    I just think it’s funny that you’re blogging this on wp.com, a site know for it’s own censorship.

    I’ve never had that problem from WP, but I seem to remember stuff like that happening on a lot of sites. I’ll look into it.

  2. Donoho Says:

    P.S. (to comment on original post)

    This is probably one of the sources of renewed interest:

    http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/01/25/yahoo-censoring-open-sauce


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