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Yahoo -- The Wild, The Mild and the Crazy

Updated on November 26, 2011

Yahoo Unleashed

The News and Much More

For those of you who click to Yahoo as a source of news, none of this may come as a surprise. For those who do not, I will summarize what the Web page has to offer in terms of news and reader commentary.

It is unclear whether Yahoo actually produces (writes/edits) any of the news available on its Web site. For the most part, accreditation is given to such sources as AP, Reuters, AFP, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, The Washington Post, The NY Times, Time magazine, and many other recognizable news outlets -- foreign and domestic.

The colorful aspect of this news bonanza is that readers are allowed to leave their personal impressions/opinions/remarks. And this is where things can become more interesting than the news article or opinion piece itself.

If you have an account with Yahoo, Google or Facebook, you are allowed to leave feedback on any news item. A probably harried team of editors quickly review everyone's remarks and censors profanity and simply does not publish remarks that seem overly controversial (this has happened to me on several occasions).

Depending on the topic, reader response can be a tidal wave. To make things even more interesting, readers have the opportunity of leaving remarks on anyone's comment. Yahoo maintains a kind of score board by showing how many thumbs up or down any individual comment may receive. A reader can simply indicate a thumbs up or down, or he/she can leave their own written response.

You may not realize it but every subject under the sun becomes controversial in this forum. The responses are all over the map -- from those who merely wish to appear humorous, to those who seem vividly threatening and unhinged.

Do not enter this realm if you cannot handle a great deal of negativity. The conversations are usually barbed and adversarial.

The intelligence quotient is also wide ranging. There are respondents who have trouble spelling and stringing two coherent sentences together, along with some very erudite deep thinkers who have the patience to write step-by-step responses, the logic of which is normally lost on the angry, the sarcastic, the fanatics, and anyone else with an emotionally-based origin of communication.

On a hot topic, within five minutes, you can receive the full range of Yahoo commentators. This arena becomes a kind of battleground -- usually divided by conservative/liberal leanings, and it isn't for the faint-hearted. The individuals who bother to leave a remark must feel an emotional stake in the subject, and they are not afraid of expressing themselves (within the confines of Yahoo's own standards of decency). Anyone can flag a remark as being improper, which probably ques the Yahoo staff to take a second reading.

If a subject is red hot, you can have trouble finding your own posting, as mere seconds count between one response and the next. You may find your remark buried within dozens of other responders. Anyone can scroll through the entire list of commentators and responders, but sometimes the list can exceed a thousand remarks. There is no way to search/find your personal remarks within this outpouring, and if you are looking to see how many thumbs up or thumbs down you received on your comment, you are forced to dig through the harvest.

After some unknown period of time, Yahoo sends you a list of your remarks and how many thumbs up you received. For whatever reason they do not pass on how many thumbs down you acquired.

Like many forums of this kind the whole feeling is one of chaos/madness. The input can be so tremendously fast that it is nearly impossible to establish a dialogue with anyone.

Reading the comments to a news story takes a bit of practice. You have to skim through the bloated, hate-everything group, the answer to everything can be found in a faith of God, the hard party line individuals, and people who just wish to be contraians. It takes a bit of practice to trudge through all the nonsensical responses to find a commentator who actually has something meaningful to say and presents their point of view in a cordial manner.

Some of the feedback is incomprehensible. Some of it sounds like it erupted from an agent of the underworld. Other remarks are so pious that you have to suppress a gag reflex.

It's hard to tell whether any of this back and forth does anyone any good. If I leave a comment and receive a contrary remark, I try to tailor my feedback for the individual, but it's impossible to tell if the communication is penetrating a thick skull or not.

There is also a button next to a commentator's input that is labeled "abusive." I suppose if enough people click on this, the commentator's entire message is hidden -- but can be viewed if you click on another button to see what might have been so offensive about the commentator's remarks.

The only value of the entire feature is to find out the knee-jerk reaction of individuals from all sides of a story.

Yahoo seems a bit too provincial in its lightening fast decision-making process whether or not to let a posting go public. As I said before, some of my own benign commentary got hauled out, and I never knew why.

I can't actually recommend the forum to anyone, but you might want to jump into it anyway, as if it were some rickety ride at a local festival. You may walk away feeling rather nauseated, but at least you can claim you took the ride.

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