Goodbye Yahoo Answers

You were inexhaustible and irreplaceable.

There are some places on the internet I’ve always gone to feel a little less lonely. But over time, they’ve disappeared. My favorite was always the Craigslist personals section—not just the missed connections, which were always quasi-fictional, but the various advertisements that ranged from the highly specific sexual requests to wanting to not have to eat dinner with yourself. I never responded to any of the ads, though I thought about it sometimes. But mostly I would log on and read the posts in the evening when I wanted company and couldn’t have it.

Craigslist personals still survives in the “community” section, which hosts “missed connections” and other postings, but it’s not really the same. Here is a man named Robert trying to find a date for his tortoise who is also named Robert.

But one of the best places to go online to be reminded of the sheer weirdness of other people was Yahoo Answers, a repository of questions and answers that were widely read for reasons that had little to do with any possible actual advice. So it was with a heavy heart that I read that not only is the service shutting down on May 4, but all the archives will be going too. The Times interviewed Justin McElroy, a guy with an apparently very successful, Yahoo Answers-involving comedy podcast that I have never listened to, and I liked McElroy’s comments on the site’s bizarre ethos:

While some of the questions struck him as performance art, and others seemed like a lazy refusal to search for answers, he said he was sympathetic to many of the people asking. We all have some bad questions inside of us, he said.

“I think you get into trouble when you think no actual person would be wondering that, because people wonder about lots of things,” he said. “You don’t want to put limits on the depths of humanity’s curiosity-slash-ignorance.

Shortly after reading this depressing news I was googling the answer to a question I’d always meant to look up but never remembered to. Sure enough, one of the first answers was from YA. It was a heartening moment. Here I was, not alone. Because a decade ago, “j.c.” had asked: “how come when ur drunk u always close one eye? isn't 2 always better than 1?” Solidarity, my friend….

One answer, by the way: “If you closed both you couldn't see at all.”

How can i become a vampire?

one answer:

you can't be turned im sorry about telling you the truth i'm not trying to be mean it's the sad truth(in your Case) but vampires are born not turned anyone who tells you different are full of **** i know from experience

but then again:

Things You Need To Turn Into One:
A strand of your hair
Blood from the person turning into a vampire
Blood from a vampire (Hard but you can get in from ebay or order it from somewhere else)

Craigslist personals and Yahoo Answers have mostly been replaced by advice columns and forums, I suppose. I enjoy wasting time reading these, but it’s not quite the same. The thing about these older platforms was partly that they offered similar pleasures as eavesdropping. When you post to a relationship advice forum, your problem might be weird—it also might just be fake—but it is of necessity more focused, and the answers will be similarly attuned to your particular predicament.

It’s a change that’s one of those things that doesn’t seem good or bad (except insofar as anybody not trying information they get from Yahoo Answers is probably good) but still regrettable, maybe especially when my normal avenues of eavesdropping are less available to me. I like people—I like how weird they are. I always enjoy opportunities to chat with people who I probably won’t ever see again and find out things about them, though I do not usually make the opening move in these conversations. But chatting with total strangers is probably the only thing I enjoyed about being a cashier.

I’m fond of frogs, and every day
I treat them with affection.
I join them at the FROG CAFE—
We love the Croaking Section.

This week’s stupid domestic purchase is this filtered water pitcher, bought in a desperate attempt to break my dependence on buying bottles of stupid “alkaline” water like Essentia. Unfortunately it’s not very beautiful, but are filtered water pitchers ever? Don’t answer that, if there’s a beautiful one I don’t want to know.

I do recommend Vitacost if you’re trying to avoid buying stuff from Amazon, incidentally. As far as I can tell, it’s not even hosted on AWS. But the most useful thing I ever found on it is tomato paste that comes in a jar, an innovation that will have you asking: wait, why doesn’t this always come in a jar? In unrelated news, I have an impossible large can of tomato paste I discovered whilst unpacking, so… please email me any recipes that might use up a twelve ounce jar of tomato paste.