Yahoo! Answers is rejecting Open-Source options in answers

Please go here to have the full story: the question, my answer, Yahoo’s official reason, etc.

Yahoo Answers + Open Source Censorship. Yahoo’s reason and the question in… question.

[Psst! Go to the link!]

I answered a question a few days ago (I can’t find the link at the moment) that was basically:

Someone got a computer from a friend that has some serious problems with Windows. S/he has none of the disks (XP or restore) and was asking for recommendations.

This was my reply after reading some of the other answers:

If you buy the XP disks you just get that – XP. No MS office, no other programs other than the very basics.

If you’re starting over anyways, grab a blank CD and use imgburn ( ) to burn an Ubuntu ( ) or Kubuntu ( ) .iso on there.

Put the burned CD in the CD tray and restart the computer. It doesn’t need a hard drive at all to run – it loads into the computer’s RAM (temporary memory).

K/ubuntu comes fully loaded and thousands of other programs are just a few clicks away – you just look them up in a built in installer, it grabs the stuff needed and installs it all. It’s free in both senses of the word – free of cost and free of obligations.

I just got an e-mail with this as it’s main message and my answer quoted twice:

Hello AmandaKerik (amandakerik)

You have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your content has been deleted. Community Guidelines help to keep Yahoo! Answers a safe and useful community, so we appreciate your consideration of its rules.

I’ve read all of the guidelines, etc and the only one that I might be in violation of is “trading programs”. I’m posting links to readily available programs with tips on how to avoid issues with them.

I’ve replied to the e-mail:

One of my answers was removed for abuse.

How is recommending freely available and legal alternatives abuse? ImgBurn is also a perfectly legal program, so are Ubuntu and Kubuntu (they’re Linux).

Pointing out the issues that I’ve run across with XP is not abusive.

I believe your choice is in severe error. I have kept a record of this e-mail for my records.

Deleted Answer: (my answer – it’s quoted above)


A short follow-up from the comments section (cause not everyone reads the comments)

Homer Says:

Did you ever get a second reply from Yahoo! about exactly why they deleted your message?

amandakerik Says:
I sent an e-mail to the address they provided and all I got back was:

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Answers.

We will investigate reports of possible violations of the Yahoo! Terms of Service and the Yahoo! Answers Community Guidelines and take the appropriate action.

The Yahoo! Terms of Service and Yahoo! Answers Community Guidelines can be found at:

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

Yahoo! Customer Care


So you know for certain that they didn’t even read it – it’s a standard auto-reply.

If I didn’t know how little they care about communication with the people who use their services, I might have actually been offended.

On a slight tangent: Did you hear about when they blocked all people using Firefox 2 from using the Yahoo Mail beta? It was a fiasco when it happened, but they’ve changed it back to being accessible. The outcry in the Firefox forums was pretty bad for a while there!


60 Responses to “Yahoo! Answers is rejecting Open-Source options in answers”

  1. Homer Says:

    Did you ever get a second reply from Yahoo! about exactly why they deleted your message?

    You should keep hassling them until they either reinstate your message or admit they are being paid by Microsoft to censor posts with negative messages about Windows (or positive messages about Linux).

    I think people need to know exactly where they stand with Yahoo!

  2. Amanda Kerik’s WordPress Blog Follow-up: Yahoo Answers censoring Open-source options « Says:

    […] April 28th, 2007 — amandakerik I figured I should post a follow-up to my surprisingly popular post about being […]

  3. Malician Says:

    Well – I hate to allege shady dealings with Microsoft, though Yahoo has tight dealings with them. Normally, I could see Yahoo annoyed at what might look as a recommendation for another product – but Linux Live CDs are free, and – it’s not like you can get a free Windows Live CD, is it?

    I don’t see what serious qualm they could possibly have.

  4. Niklas Says:

    Now I’m 100% sure that I’ll never use any Yahoo services (not because I do anyway). This just isn’t democatic. What about freedom of speech?! Even though I’m not the big open source fan, I think this is very wrong and shouldn’t have happened. But normale people can’t do anything about it, but stop using Yahoo’s services

  5. John D Says:

    Yahoo! Answers isn’t rejecting Open-Source options in answers .. Someone is having a problem with Windows XP, and your suggesions is to simply wipe it all .. Come on .. It’s like a dentist pulling a tooth, if there’s a small cavity. Instead of actually helping helping, You are endorsing a product that You yourself prefer.

  6. Aaangel Says:

    Your little thread here made it to a danish tech news site 🙂

    Anyway this is completely and utter BS, if this is how Yahoo does their business, I’m actually glad I’ve never used Yahoo at all.


  7. Peter Says:

    Well, your answer isn’t strictly relevant, is it?

    What if I have asked for a solution to my Mac OS X problems, and some one replied that I should forget about OS X and only use Windows instead (which can be run on my Mac through BootCamp).

    However, despite the question of relevance, I agree in your view on censorship.

  8. Alvis Says:

    I look forward to finding out if Yahoo ever gives you a real answer.

  9. Notizblog » Yahoo ist böse! Says:

    […] Yahoo-Userin beschwert sich über eine ungerechtfertigte Löschung ihrer Beiträge bei Yahoo Answers. Das ist […]

  10. Yahoo! censors Open Source … on Says:

    […] suggest you read the whole story here. Sphere: Related Content Links: Trackback link Permalink RSS for comments Digg […]

  11. jj Says:

    maybe it’s a question about advertising…..

  12. melchior Says:

    Looks like a number of people (possibly Microsoft employees or otherwise shills) clicked the “report abuse” link. The comment deletion system may have be automated or the moderator wasn’t feeling particularly liberated. Granted, there’s room for the censorship argument, but there’s always the possibility that some pro-Microsoft guy got a posse together to report the comment to death.

    (Devil’s advocate suggestions brought to you by Hanlon’s razor: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”)

  13. Michael Wexler Says:

    John D hit it on the head. You weren’t on topic. The person clearly wanted to get back to where they were. Your suggestion was really not helpful. You could have acheived your desired result with more info and then slipped in your Ubuntu plug:
    “One option is to either reinstall windows, or install on anothr “part” of your hard drive. There are many sources for XP (or Vista) these days if you need to buy it again, but they do cost money. Each software product that you don’t have disks for would have to be purchased, including MS Office. While one can sometimes buy these things used on eBay, MS does not support this and frowns upon it. If you don’t necessarily need windows itself, you can copy your files to a floppy, cd, or flash drive and then try one of the free Linux systems like Ubuntu which provides an office solution and can read most of your files and documents.”

    I don’t think they would have killed that one… yet it gets your point across. I don’t think Y! has anything against open source (they use tons of it in house) but they are clearly cracking down on comments which aren’t really on topic.

  14. Amanda Kerik’s WordPress Blog Yahoo + Open Source Censorship. A second follow-up. « Says:

    […] Says: June 22nd, 2007 at 3:46 am eNow I’m 100% sure that I’ll never use any Yahoo services (not because I do anyway). This just […]

  15. Yahoo censura software livre no Programas Livres Says:

    […] vez a Yahoo, no seu serviço Answers, anulou uma resposta, de um utilizador que sugeria a outro que precisava de reinstalar o windows e não tinha o cd, que […]

  16. Josh Says:

    I imagine that this is an honest mistake. Yahoo as a company embraces open source. Their servers run on BSD and many machines use RHEL. PHP is the language of choice on the server side, and its creator even works at Yahoo. Look at the YUI library as a perfect example of how they embrace open source. Completely built in-house and free to anyone.

    Many people keep saying that they’re being paid by Microsoft, but if that were the case, there’d be no way that Yahoo would be running so many open source systems and applications.

  17. Tobiax Says:

    “Michael Wexler Says:
    June 22nd, 2007 at 9:11 am

    John D hit it on the head. You weren’t on topic.”

    If someone wrecked their car, and wanted advice on how to re-attach the bumper – it would be entirely relevant to suggest the person stop driving an SUV!
    The individual had a computer rendered useless and AFAIK, wanted help to regain functionality. Fetching Linux would do exactly that; and in all probability, more quickly and with more ease than fixing the Windows install.

  18. Jesper Says:

    That’s just plain laughable. Anyone know how to delete a yahoo mail account ? I don’t see myself coming back there – ever.

    I guess this is all there is to say:
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    – Mahatma Gandhi

  19. Jesper Says:

    Brilliant, their account deletion system isn’t working. I tried sending a mail to their support center, and others may do the same if they wish to suspend their account.

    If all else fails, I suppose I can recommend Ubuntu to someone 😛

  20. Peter Jespersen Says:

    OK, the answer might not be 100% on track, recommending a platform migration.

    But are all replys on the Yahoo always 100% on track all of the time?

    I do believe that melchior has hit it on the head – some Windows-NUT, has clicked the abuse-button – the rest has been on autopilot.

    But don’t get your hopes up on receiving any meaningful reply from Yahoo. I never really liked Yahoo, nor their system any.

  21. Rand Says:

    Michael, John, Both of your points are at the end of the day, irrelevant. She gave a perfectly valid option for getting the computer working. It’s not as if the person only gets one answer. They get many and can choose which they want to try. The topic was getting the computer working when windows took a crap. How is switching to linux off topic? That’s what would happen, the computer would be back in a working condition. It’s good to have options, stop trying to clear them out.
    They probably wouldn’t have killed your version, it’s a good marketing line that helps to ensure that M$ gets another payday. Your commission check is in the mail.

  22. Diabolic Preacher Says:

    first and foremost i feel sick of using services of Yahoo now…esp. Yahoo Answers! or is it Yahoo! Answers ?? heh

    as for those who think it’s right to censor answers just because they are not on-topic…i have gotten away with best answer credits for answering questions in a way that doesn’t really answer the question. its no wonder there are no mentions of linux qna or they are like so scant.
    and linux users are more smart to go to some place like to look for answers. yahoo answers is sort of meant for newbies and newbies are the ones who can make the easiest transition to linux rather than seasoned users with their time-tested word macros and desktop decorations.
    i don’t see any valid reason to censor the answer except perhaps some pro-MS bunch of click-happy people clicked on “Report Abuse” till the mouse button came out the other side.

    i always knew yahoo answers was a waste of time n i do use it that way as well…ppl will ask things like “how i can make my computer fast?” how would i know why it is slow unless you tell us….and how many of you reading this page, jump straight to the conclusion that the person is using windows and not linux…ok ok now this might be labelled an off-topic survey, but what i wanna show is that the inability to follow up n refine your answers is what makes yahoo answers useless to solve problems and useful to answer rhetorical stuff like “to be or not to be?”

  23. Opensource Says:

    The real question is, what are you doing wasting your time on a has-been site? Go help out wikipedia or an open source project, not some hollywood wannabe company with second-rate products.

  24. Sean Miller Says:

    >John D hit it on the head. You weren’t on topic. The person
    >clearly wanted to get back to where they were. [Michael]

    Erm… that’s not what was written above… it implied that the person had been given a computer by a friend, so it wasn’t a case of “getting back” as they were just starting, so the idea of replacing XP with Linux was actually quite reasonable…

    >Someone is having a problem with Windows XP, and your
    >suggesions is to simply wipe it all .. Come on .. It’s like a
    >dentist pulling a tooth, [John]

    As Amanda actually wrote “It doesn’t need a hard drive at all to run – it loads into the computer’s RAM (temporary memory).” this is somewhat of a harsh comparison… we may not be being given the whole story, but from what is written above I do not get the impression that the person *wanted* XP, simply a working computer.


  25. amandakerik Says:

    Just a general note:
    I have comments moderated, so when yours doesn’t show up immediately it’s not a glitch.
    Also: please note I’ve let through all the non-spam comments. Constructive criticism is more than welcome – it helps me see things from many perspectives.

    I have two follow-ups to this, so feel free to check them out and comment.
    The latest one is here –
    and the first follow-up is here –

    There should be a third and fourth follow-up (replies to comments and an actual update) … in a bit.

  26. Amanda Kerik’s WordPress Blog Yahoo Answers Censorship? Follow-up #3 « Says:

    […] Says: June 22nd, 2007 at 8:49 am emaybe it’s a question about […]

  27. renaissance chambara | Ged Carroll » Blog Archive » Links for 2007-06-23 [] Says:

    […] Amanda Kerik’s WordPress Blog Yahoo! Answers is rejecting Open-Source options in answers – Hmmm, venturing into interesting ground […]

  28. nix Says:

    I got similar treatment from craigslist. I replied to a post about google and put some details about their inner workings and my post was deleted. Funny, the original thread and responses were NOT deleted but mine was removed. I got a snotty reply from craigslist stating that my reply was inappropriate and the person stated that ” I hope that you don’t work for Google.”

  29. StarChild Says:


    You DO know what Yahoo means, right?
    (we’re talking slang here)

    -and in a world without walls and fences,
    who needs windows and gates?

    Anyhow, can’t wait to see the day when all the people living here on earth will be truly free.
    (And NO; the western society has never been free)


    tbh, i believe this to be a mistake, nothing more, nothing less…
    -but if it isn’t…they know what’s coming for them; they all do.

    just my 2£

  30. Boycott Novell » Yahoo VP Explains Patent Trolling (Video) Says:

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  31. Yahoo pode estar censurando respostas ligadas a Software Livre e Código Aberto | Governança & Tecnologia Says:

    […] usuária Amanda Kerik teve uma de suas respostas bloqueadas pelo serviço de controle de qualidade das respostas e foi […]

  32. Felician Balint Says:

    I think that this post is one I’ve actually enjoyed reading:
    Michael Wexler Says:
    June 22, 2007 at 9:11 am ….

    And I have a small completion. About how Yahoo cares about its customers.
    I’ve had several problems with my Yahoo account, and I’ve written to Yahoo Customer Care. Usually I got a response until the next day and the problem was solved pretty quick (either the response was about the fact that my problem was solved, either that they were working on it and I should try to do some things in order to see if I can go around my problem until it was solved).

    Congrats, but I have to state that this hasn’t been my, personal, experience with Yahoo. Most of my contact with them has been along the lines of “here’s a form letter that responds to keywords in your email, thank you and please try again”. The only time I got a person to respond was when this blog post series caught their attention.

  33. ioloo Says:

    An Yahoo boycott is easy. Google, Ask, Wikia,… is there.

  34. Stormy Says:

    As I love to dualboot to Linux, I hate answers from pro-linux geeks that completle throw the topics off. One thing is to recommend a solution to repair/reinstall a faulty OS, another is to flame on the thread with “go Linux” stuff. If I was a moderator at Yahoo I wouldn’t spare your post too.
    Remember not all users can adapt painlessly to a completly different OS. And judging by the topic itself, it seems this one is not a techie/geek that loves to experiment.

    If you wanted to be helpfull with a penguin recommendation – you could point out to that guy that Linux is a handy tool at restoring Windows installations. It can be used for virus cleanning, boot recovery and so on. In fact I’ve recovered several Windows’ by just deleting the faulty drivers from the fs under a Knoppix live-cd.

    So yes – you have been properly moderated for a flaming post. No big deal there 😉

    I think you misunderstood the question: there was no OS on the computer, and she was looking to get it running again with the least amount of fuss and money. I wasn’t flaming Windows, I was tactfully pointing out that even if she *did* get a copy of XP, it didn’t have all the stuff that normally comes with a computer when you buy it from a big box store. I pointed out alternative solutions she will never see because my answer was deleted.

  35. Clint Brothers Says:

    This makes me very angry at Yahoo, I used to be a big advocate of Yahoo. When GOOGLE started gmail I switched and I’m glad because GOOGLE has more services and options to offer now than yahoo. I hope I can switch some of my friends to GOOGLE because about 10 years ago I was telling every one I know to use yahoo mail because they can have that email address for ever. What a mistake!

  36. Yahoo! Answers censura le risposte pro-Open Source? - Appunti Digitali Says:

    […] polverone si è sollevato quando un’utente, Amanda Kerik , ha risposto al problema di un utente consigliandogli di installare, oltre a Windows, la […]

  37. Yahoo censura recomendaciones sobre código abierto « G@LloLiNuX Says:

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  38. Gregorio Espadas Says:

    In so many times, I did the same: recommend opensource alternatives, like Ubuntu… but no one of my answers have been deleted by Yahoo!

    The ironic part is that I have posted answers that were crap, and they didn’t get flagged. This was my first and only deleted answer, and I’m kinda glad it was an important debate point… heh.

  39. Yahoo censura el software libre Says:

    […] Yahoo censura el software… por torrero hace pocos segundos […]

  40. Asztal Says:

    You agree to not use the Service to:

    h. upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any material that contains software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment;

    I’m kidding, of course. 🙂

  41. MM Says:

    Hmmm…. for this I am stopping using yahoo and any of their services. Long live google!


  42. Geoff Says:

    Just look at the situation over on
    Yahoo came along, poooped all over it.
    Yes, its not down as much, yes it looks a bit fancier….
    …. but its to mask the cowboy’ism behind the curtains.

    As long as Yahoo think they are the supreme rulers and as long as Google remembers the consumer then Yahoo will contuine to call and Google rise.

    I, personally, don’t use Flickr, but big companies tend to steam out the flavour that was there originally.

  43. Leo Says:

    Apparently M$ is buying Yahoo!

    No surprise there…

    Can you comment again with a source? This would make my day, and I have all my e-mails in Thunderbird, a simple move of them to gmail shouldn’t be that hard.
    Yahoo: no free pop, don’t even think about imap
    Google: free pop, imap, everything you can think of.
    Not much of a comparason, eh?

  44. Miriam Ruiz Says:

    […] what happens if you recommend free software in Yahoo! forums? Your message might just be deleted for violating their Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. Someone got a computer from a friend […]

  45. PettiNix Says:

    Yahoo! censura l’Open Source?

    Sembrerebbe che Yahoo! Answers, la comunità di domande e risposte di Yahoo!, censuri le risposte che rischiano di favorire l’open source.

    La notizia non è proprio una novità, Amanda Kerik nel suo blog ne aveva parlato già nell’aprile d…

  46. Rocco Sicilia [aka: BrC] » Yahoo! + Microsoft != Open Source (?) Says:

    […] Un titolo che e’ anche un’equazione con incognita di risoluzione (cazzo dico?), ma questa e’ bellissima… se e’ vera e’ bellissima… Yahoo! Answers censura le risposte pro-open-source… ma e’ una cosa sensazionale… Io lo scopro solo ora ma sembra che sia un fatto noto da aprile 2007. […]

  47. Donoho Says:

    A bit late to the party.

    An opinion/possible solution was shared in a public forum and deleted by admins. If this was an error, and the request for a follow up was not honored, then foul. If it was intentionally removed for content, then it was censorship.

    My opinion is that the comment was relevant given the “If you’re starting over anyways”. The tip provided would have made No Changes to the computer, while giving the person in need some additional options. It seems to me that Amanda was giving someone tools to make their own decision with additional information, while minimally being complementary to other XP only responses.

    John D
    “Someone is having a problem with Windows XP, and your suggesions is to simply wipe it all” Your comment shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about do a search (in with the engine of your choice) on “What is a Live CD”

    Michael Wexler
    “The person clearly wanted to get back to where they were.”
    Did you read the original post?
    “Someone got a computer from a friend that has some serious problems with Windows. S/he has none of the disks (XP or restore) and was asking for recommendations.”
    There was no back to where they were. She was sharing what she believed to be a helpful opinion. Why should she have to cater to anyone else in doing so?

    Wrote/Edited this as I was reading so some of this is a repeat of Sean Millers sentiments.

  48. malignedtruth Says:

    I have been totally deleted by Yahoo on three occasions!

    I answered the same question about getting discarded computers up and running for FREE , over a period of 5 months, in 2007, in each succession of my enrollment in Yahoo.

    Usually I mentioned that they and Microsoft use FreeBSD, and GNU/Linux in their server environment.

    I do believe the censorship pogrom is rampant in Yahoo!
    DO NOT USE YAHOO if you never want your entire account deleted with no recourse!

    Yahoo lost ALL my correspondance with my doctors over my life threatening medical conditions!

    Yahoo not only SUCKS, they will kill you if it is in their power!

  49. Geoffrey D Says:

    Why Are Yahoo-Answers Moderators Abusing Their Power?

    I’ve posted on many websites before starting to post for the first time on the yahoo-answers forum just a couple weeks ago.

    Normally, website moderators won’t remove/delete anything posted unless it is obscene, illegal or blatantly racist. A few will even allow that, more or less.

    But the yahoo-answers website moderators wantonly abuse their power by removing/ deleting whatever they want simply BECAUSE THEY FEEL LIKE IT!

    In the two short weeks I was on their website, they removed/ deleted almost twenty questions by me. Because my opinion was opposed to their agenda.

    Now what kind of a forums website is that that STIFLES, rather than ENCOURAGES, debates from opposing perspectives?!

    These people have even removed several of my questions that were “resolved,” so that the persons to whom I awarded ten points for “best” answer were unjustly deprived of their earned points.

    And the yahoo-answers moderators are continually alert for anyone who posts questions or answers that expose their power abuse, so that the exposing post is quickly deleted from sight.

    Many times they pulled that on me. And I’ve seen countless posts by other users saying the same. Sometimes getting their yahoo account suspended, in addition to having their posts unjustly removed.

    A citizen of the United States supposedly has certain inalienable constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Including FREEDOM OF SPEECH, and EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW, and to DUE PROCESS OF LAW.

    I have already contacted Yahoo’s legal department about this, and am awaiting the possibility of obtaining informal remedy, before possibly proceeding with a class action lawsuit on behalf of myself and all other yahoo-answers users similarly the victim of wanton power abuse.

    In the meantime, if you also have been a victim of such power abuse, I strongly urge you to report it to the FTC at:

    1-877-382-4357. If the FTC gets enough similar complaints, they will take action against Yahoo.

  50. Yahoo censura l’open source - The Inquirer IT Says:

    […] notizia si è subito diffusa dopo che Amanda ha raccontato i fatti sul suo blog e ha suscitato parecchie proteste, al punto che qualcuno suggerisce di boicottare […]

  51. Mario Says:

    I think that this is very strange…on the italian Yahoo! Answers people can write the serial numbers for install commercial programs like photoshop or nero burning and nobody says anything…you recommends ubuntu and immediatly yahoo delete your answer. I can think that yahoo delete your raccomandation because Microsoft wants to be its partner

    PS Sorry for my english, but i’m Italian 😉

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  53. Mommy to 3 Says:

    Yahoo is such a fascist website: I got violations answering a adoption question. Giving website that were usefull for a prospective adoptive family. Violation: soliciation
    Next violation was when i asked ” why are adoptive parents thumbed down”
    Violation: Not a question nor an answer.

    This website gives you no freedom to speak on any subject. Nothing racist or infalammatory was said . Nor was i selling any shit. But its the Mods and the site that is a farce in the name of “questions”

    Never going to use Yahoo again.

  54. redsword Says:

    I love LİNUX(Kubuntu/Debian)

    *Moderator culled definitions of Kubuntu and Debian* Please don’t post basic blurbs found on the official sites, it gets spammy. Anyone can look up the definition / history / wikipedia page of Kubuntu or Debian.

    From your second posted comment:
    and why yud rejecting my message?????????. I think dont like it

    If you say something original, I’ll approve it. Repeat what can be found on many, many sites and I’ll cull it brutally.

  55. Pranab Says:

    Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

    I wonder if your post might have contained certain words (XP, burn, CD) that have triggered off an automated ‘anti-piracy’ flag somewhere.

  56. jamie farmer Says:

    i can see my e mail but i can’t [answer] them

    Uhh… ok. Why did you post this here? *confuzzled*
    You’re about as clear as “I have a problem with my thingy, the whatsits isn’t working with the thingymabobby.”
    More *clear* info is needed.

  57. Enrique Says:

    About six months ago I write a comment in YA (in spanish). I write in the same phrase the words “Microsoft” and “monopoly”. The context wasn’t offensive. Of course I receive the same e-mail as you.

  58. tomas Says:

    have been user since 10-06,,,yahoo community rules are meaningless in light of thousands of delete/abuse vios,whether for harmless, or controversial subjects.
    they tend to leave antisemitic stuff as posted,lean liberal left
    are based in europe. Any user can hit abuse/vio and the post is gone,,review is nonexistent,appeals are usually denied.It aint a free forum. Yahoo Layoffs worldwide might bring about change

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