According to avid Yahoo'er, Amanda Kerik, Yahoo seems to have developed a policy of censoring answers in their "Yahoo! Answers" service, if that answer contains a suggestion to use Open Source alternatives to Microsoft software.
The gist of it is, that a fellow Yahoo'er posted a question about what to do with a PC that had run into unsolvable Windows problems, since that user did not have a Windows install disc. Amanda suggested, quite amiably, that the hapless user should simply install Ubuntu Linux, since it looked like they'd need to start over from scratch anyway. Amanda was subsequently rewarded with a warning from Yahoo that her answer was "in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service.", and they promptly deleted her answer.
It's no secret that Yahoo are very pro-Microsoft, having previously supplied them with search and ad services, and there was much speculation about a possible merger between the two companies last year. More recently, during an interview with journalist John Battelle, Jeff Weiner, executive vice president of Yahoo’s Network Division intimated that Yahoo would be very open to working extremely closely with Microsoft in the future.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's arch rival Google is about to deliver a crushing blow against them, by finalising a deal to acquire advertising gurus DoubleClick, trouncing Microsoft's offer, despite the fact that Microsoft made a much higher bid. This, many have speculated, will mean the end for Microsoft's beleaguered Live services, which have failed miserably at every turn. With Google securing the DoubleClick deal with a lower offer, it is also a brutal humiliation for Microsoft, suggesting that DoubleClick lacked any confidence in Microsoft's ability to deliver quality search services, with their inept Live Search technology.
So is it any wonder that one of Microsoft's bed partners should be so keen to protect the Redmond giant's interests? Although censoring messages as innocuous as Amanda's, does seem to be stooping pretty low, even for a corporate Microsoft supporter.
But what does that say about Yahoo's ability to deliver accurate search results? Are they going to start censoring the entire Web, removing any negative references to Microsoft or Windows, and any positive references to Linux or Open Source?
Perhaps it's time that Yahoo's subscribers started asking that question. I look forward to reading their response.