Two weeks ago we started a new series of blog posts aimed at digging deeper into the Answers Community Guidelines. In that post, we started things off light by tackling “Do #1: Share what you know.” This time around, let’s take a look at “Don’t #1: Don’t use Yahoo! Answers as a soapbox to vent your frustrations, rant, or otherwise violate the question and answer format.”
Answerers with specialized interests, experience, and in many cases training, spend countless hours sharing their knowledge and opinions with others in our community. This works out well, but where does the line between quality Q&A and community violation actually exist?
Let’s take a look at the following question:
Now let’s look at some possible answers:
“I hate the Ford Focus! Anyone that puts more money into one that has already had problems is an idiot! Don’t be stupid. Ford sucks.”
Answer 1 is a violation, but some might still ask, “Why is this in violation?”
The Answerer who posted this wasn’t really looking to answer the question. Instead, they used their answer as an opportunity to take out their frustrations on the Asker. The Asker isn’t looking to be attacked for their decision to own a Ford vehicle. They’re asking how to change a timing belt, and if you read the details they are explicitly looking for advice on ways to get started.
“Nice question! I want to know the answer to this also. Let me know when you get an answer”
Answer 2 is also a violation. In this case, the Answerer does not actually answer the question. It’s true that they aren’t being mean, harassing anyone, or venting to the community, but we have to keep in mind that Answers is a community based on questions and answers. Q&A is our focus, so if you’re posting responses that aren’t actually answers to questions, you’re not helping the Asker find what they are looking for. If you want to keep an eye on a question, you can always add it to your Watchlist so you can revisit it later and read the answers.
As we all know, questions can violate the Community Guidelines also. Let’s take a look at a question that would qualify as a violation:
As you can see, this question is in violation of the Community Guidelines because the person that posted this isn’t actually asking a question at all. Instead, they are using Answers solely for the purposes of ranting.
I hope this helps clarify some of our Community Guidelines. We’ll continue our exploration of Community Guidelines Dos and Don’ts in future posts like this. Let us know what you think.
[Update] — 05/10/2007
Many have expressed some confusion regarding cases where questions violate the Q&A format, so here are some examples:
- “I don’t think so…?”
- “Argh!!!! I hate when this happens?”
While there may be a question at the root of each one of these, they are still not considered questions unless the Asker clarifies themselves in the question details. If you take some time to phrase your question in a complete sentence, and make sure it approaches your topic with “who, what, when, why, or where” you should find yourself in good shape for avoiding a Violation Notice. Just remember, even a properly phrased question can still be a violation if it crosses over into “rant” territory.
For example, “Who hates liberals/conservatives because they are a bunch of idiots?” would be considered in violation for being a rant.
I hope this helps clarify things.
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