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With emerging online information sources, information seeking behavior is changing. A common and defining characteristic of these sites is that anyone can pose their information need on almost any topic as a question, and receive answers from the community of users that belong to that particular site Harper, et al. In recent years, these services have become increasingly popular. Answers is reported to have more than million users worldwide [ 1 ], with 15 million users visiting daily [ 2 ].

This area is considered to be an online or virtual version of traditional reference services, where a patron can receive information from reference librarians or other experts Mon, Answers YA due to its scope and accessibility, examining its effectiveness in terms of retrieving information and providing satisfactory answers.

Hence, we will address the following research questions:. The remainder of the paper describes how we collected a large amount of data from YA, mining it to answer these research questions. We conclude with a few interpretations and implications of our findings. To answer our research questions, we performed data mining on a large set of data retrieved from YA.

This section describes our methodology for data collection, as well as a basic description of the data.

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However, APIs have a daily limit so collecting a large amount of data in a short period of time is not possible. We, therefore, ran our data collection processes for more than two years between Fall and Fall to create a corpus of a reasonable size. This resulted in a collection of over 3,, questions, with over 16,, answers. On YA, an interrogator can choose an answer that satisfies his or her information needs from a set of answers.

We only collected those questions that have been resolved. In other words, interrogators of these questions had picked the best answers from a set of answers they received; hence, answers were not possible for these questions. This approach was selected because we wanted to look at the selected answer for each question, since having an answer chosen as the best answer marks a given question resolved. This creates one of the limitations of our approach to identifying effectiveness and user satisfaction.

Since we only studied questions that were resolved, we only looked at situations where at least one satisfactory answer was provided, thus, making the service appear very effective. It is beyond the scope of this work, due to its methodology, to consider situations where no satisfactory answer was posted. Table 1 provides a summary of the data, where the number of questions and their respective answers are presented within the 25 subject categories of YA http: We do not know the actual size of the YA dataset, which constantly grows.

We do, however, believe that our data is a reasonable sampling of it. Questions in these categories are often seeking opinions rather than a specific answer [ 3 ]. For each question, we collected its subject, content, category, username of the interrogator, number of answers, and the time when the question was posted. For each answer, we collected its content, username of the individual providing an answer, rating if there was any , and the time when the answer was posted. Given that the rating is posted only for the interrogator selecting a given answer, having a rating for an answer also tells us which was chosen.

First, we looked at how many answers a given question received.


Figure 1 depicts a scatter plot of number of questions—answers. As we can see, the majority of questions received fewer than 10 answers. In fact, based on our data — about 16,, answers for about 3,, questions — we can derive that, on average, each question earned five to six answers. Receiving five or six answers per question may seem encouraging, but a more important question is how soon one could receive at least one answer. This could, in a sense, indicate the effectiveness of YA. To answer this question, we computed the time lapse in minutes between the posting times of a question and its first answer.

The results are summarized in Figure 2. We can see that more than 30 percent , out of about 3,, of the questions received their first answers in less than five minutes, and only about eight percent , out of about 3,, of the questions took longer than one hour to secure their first answers. In other words, more than 90 percent of the questions received at least one answer within an hour. Given that millions of questions are posted on YA, these statistics are indicative of the effectiveness of this system. Note that we did not collect unresolved questions from YA, so there may be a number of questions for which no satisfactory answer was received.

We have observed that many of these sorts of questions ask for opinions or advice rather than a solution or specific information; thus, by nature, they are irresolvable. Such observations are supported by Harper, et al. Interrogators select answers from a set of answers that best fit their information needs. Liu and Agichtein regard this as an indication of user satisfaction. When selecting an answer, an interrogator can also rate that answer on the scale of 1 to 5.

Figure 3 illustrates the rank distribution for answers in our dataset. Among the selected answers, most received a rating of 3 or higher. This has been regarded as the indication of high quality answers by Shah and Pomerantz [ 4 ]. In other words, interrogators were not only satisfied with a given answer; they also found these selected answers to be of high quality. Let us consider these answers with respect to time.

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While receiving a quick response for a posted question may demonstrate the effectiveness of the system, it still remains to be seen if these answers satisfy the needs of a given interrogator. To analyze this, we looked at the time lapsed between the time a question was posted and an answer was given and selected. Therefore, in order to get control of the trademark, Yang and Filo added the exclamation mark to the name.

Srinija Srinivasan , an alumna of Stanford University, was hired as Yahoo! In the late s, Yahoo! Web portal providers rushed to acquire companies to expand their range of services, generally with the goal of increasing the time each user stays within the portal. On March 8, , Yahoo! Four11's webmail service, Rocketmail , became Yahoo! Groups in June Pager, [21] an instant messaging service that was renamed Yahoo! Messenger a year later.

When acquiring companies, Yahoo! For example, they claimed intellectual property rights for content on their servers, unlike the previous policies of the companies they acquired. As a result, many of the acquisitions were controversial and unpopular with users of the existing services. Sixteen days later, shares in Yahoo!

On February 7, , yahoo.

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On June 26, , Yahoo! Nevertheless, on September 26, , Yahoo! In late , Yahoo! In December , Yahoo! In February , Yahoo!

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Widgets , [36] a desktop application, and in July , it acquired Overture Services, Inc. On February 18, , Yahoo!

In March , Yahoo! In , in response to Google 's release of Gmail , Yahoo! Mail Plus accounts to 2 GB. On July 9, , Yahoo! On October 13, , Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger would become interoperable. Music in February On March 20, , Yahoo! In June , Yahoo! Next is an incubation ground for future Yahoo! It contains forums for Yahoo! In early , Yahoo! However, it currently only supports Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Users of other browsers, such as Opera , have criticized Yahoo! On August 27, , Yahoo! Messenger integration which included Windows Live Messenger due to the networks' federation and free text messages not necessarily free to the receiver to mobile phones in the U.

On January 29, , Yahoo! The cuts represented 7 percent of the company's workforce of 14, On December 10, , Yahoo! At the time, analysts were skeptical about the wisdom of a business combination by these two firms. On February 1, , after its friendly takeover offer was rebuffed by Yahoo!

On February 22, two Detroit-based pension companies sued Yahoo! In addition, they stated that Microsoft's "aggressive" approach was worsening their relationship and the chances of a "friendly" merger. On May 3, , Microsoft withdrew the offer. One of Ballmer's lieutenants suggested that Yang would implement a poison pill to make the takeover as difficult as possible, saying "They are going to burn the furniture if we go hostile.

They are going to destroy the place. Analysts said that Yahoo! Some suggested that institutional investors would file lawsuits against Yahoo! On May 5, , following Microsoft's withdrawal, Yahoo! On June 12, , Yahoo! Talks had taken place the previous weekend June 8 , during which Microsoft allegedly told Yahoo! Also, on June 12, Yahoo!

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  • According to market analysts, these pending departures impacted Wall Street 's perception of the company. On July 7, , Microsoft said it would reconsider proposing another bid for Yahoo! Microsoft believed it would be able to better negotiate with a new board. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn , calling the current board irrational in its approach to talks with Microsoft, launched a proxy fight to replace Yahoo!

    On July 21, , Yahoo! On November 30, , Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo! On July 29, , it was announced in a year deal that Microsoft would have full access to Yahoo! The day after the deal was announced, Yahoo! On January 13, , Yahoo! In July , Microsoft and Yahoo!

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    The new page allowed users to customize it through the prominent "My Favorites" panel on the left side and integrate third-party web services and launch them within one page. Such third-party applications include pages of Netflix , E-trade , Facebook, and other sites. After talking to many users in about 10 countries, she said, Yahoo!

    In September , Bartz sent an email to Yahoo! In early , after the appointment of Scott Thompson as the new CEO, many rumors spread about large layoffs looming.


    This followed the departures of Yahoo! On April 4, , Yahoo announced a cut of 2, jobs or about 14 percent of 14, workers employed by Yahoo. On March 14, Yahoo! In an email memo sent to employees in April , Scott Thomson re-iterated his view that customers should come first at Yahoo. He defined customers as both users and advertisers. He also completely re-organized the company.

    The reorganization took effect on May 1, and included operations in three major groups for Yahoo! The Consumer group has three groups: Media, Connections, and Commerce. The customers of this group are the users of Yahoo!. The Regions group operates three regions: The customers of this group are the advertisers of Yahoo!. It provides technology and support to the other two major groups.

    The Corporate group Finance, Legal, and HR remains unchanged and continues to support the new groups. On May 3, , news broke out that Thompson's biography at Yahoo was incorrect. The CEO's biography stated that he held a dual accounting and computer science degree from Stonehill College , whereas investigation revealed that Thompson's degree was solely in accounting, and not in Computer Science.

    In response to the crisis, Yahoo!