Yahoo Censoring Open Source

Homer's picture

Update: 25th Jan 2008: Welcome CNet and Inq. readers.

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.

Comments

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo censorship

There's more than a little censorship going on at Yahoo. there are literally hundreds of thousands whose news pages never seem to completely load, thus blocking any opportunity to make a statement/opinion on any article on their site. This ALWAYS occurs after making a few comments that are anti-republican, centrist, or anti-teabagger. There has to be a viable alternative somewhere, but spyware laden Googoo, you're a twit-ter, in your face-book, AOL (where I think spyware was invented) , and last, but most certainly the worst, uber reich like Microsoft are definitely not decent alternate choices. I won't ever use micro garbage anything ever again after win7's $200 for crapware price tag. The net is definitely primed for a new Yahoo/Googoo/Bing alternative, but no one seems to have the brass to try it.

cherylsarah's picture

I hate this

I hate this cause I can't use thunderbird with yahoo, so I will go to gmail sign up.

Anony Mouse's picture

Why Are Yahoo-Answers Moderators Abusing Their Power?

I've posted on many websites before starting to post for the first time on the yahoo-answers forum just a couple weeks ago.

Normally, website moderators won't remove/delete anything posted unless it is obscene, illegal or blatantly racist. A few will even allow that, more or less.

But the yahoo-answers website moderators wantonly abuse their power by removing/ deleting whatever they want simply BECAUSE THEY FEEL LIKE IT!

In the two short weeks I was on their website, they removed/ deleted almost twenty questions by me. Because my opinion was opposed to their agenda.

Now what kind of a forums website is that that STIFLES, rather than ENCOURAGES, debates from opposing perspectives?!

These people have even removed several of my questions that were "resolved," so that the persons to whom I awarded ten points for "best" answer were unjustly deprived of their earned points.

And the yahoo-answers moderators are continually alert for anyone who posts questions or answers that expose their power abuse, so that the exposing post is quickly deleted from sight.

Many times they pulled that on me. And I've seen countless posts by other users saying the same. Sometimes getting their yahoo account suspended, in addition to having their posts unjustly removed.

A citizen of the United States supposedly has certain inalienable constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Including FREEDOM OF SPEECH, and EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW, and to DUE PROCESS OF LAW.

I have already contacted Yahoo's legal department about this, and am awaiting the possibility of obtaining informal remedy, before possibly proceeding with a class action lawsuit on behalf of myself and all other yahoo-answers users similarly the victim of wanton power abuse.

In the meantime, if you also have been a victim of such power abuse, I strongly urge you to report it to the FTC at:

1-877-382-4357. If the FTC gets enough similar complaints, they will take action against Yahoo.

http://yahoopowerabuse.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-are-yahoo-answers-modera...

Anony Mouse's picture

reply to comment

Similar things happened to me frequently at Yahoo forums, even so to my knowledge I never abused their terms and conditions, they just did not seem to like my comment as they seemed to think that it to be opposed to their agenda. After I protested against their treatment Yahoo prevented me from commenting in their forums. As a result I deleted my account including email as I can't trust Yahoo any more. As a response they told me that I have to wait 3 month before my account can be deleted to avoid fraudulent activities (what a laugh).
I am sad as I feel that freedom of speech does not exist any more.

Anony Mouse's picture

yahoo who needs it.

I learned about metacrawler.com in school and thats my search engine. every thing else is Google.

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo suspends Linux and FOSS answerers!

Yahoo Answers are extremely biased, and I have been 'suspended' in four consecutive identities, and my accounts locked up. Hey, they're FREE throw-away but, Some were up to Level 6!

Ignoring viable solutions, promoting security through obscurity, are all 'feel good' answers that let the frogs boil slowly in the pan, as the heat increases.

I am hoping to see Google leave Yahoo in the dust! Yahoo needs a lesson, and is headed towards a really huge one!

Yahoodiots! http://livecdlist.com has some 315 solutions to what ails most Microsoft users! Try the Mepis, the PCLinuxOS, the mini-knoppix, or the Damn Small Linux. Yes, most boot from USB, too!

Anony Mouse's picture

If you've had problems with Yahoo

... document and protest them on non-Yahoo blogs, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say. And yes it's worth your time!

Anony Mouse's picture

yahoo take over by mic...

If there is a merger with mic... I will not use yahoo at all because I PREFER NOT TO USE MIC...
products unless I really have to.

Anony Mouse's picture

The deeper issue is Yahoo!'s hyprocrisy

Yahoo!'s a commercial venture that has no legal mandate to be 'fair' in its search results or policies and guidelines. As to the comments of 'Yahoo!'s never supported open source' and its kin, this is patently odd. Yahoo!'s infrastructure is built on BSD and their official programming language is PHP (last I heard). So for Yahoo! to use open source almost exclusively internally, and censor suggestions that others use open source seems to me to be an incredible hypocrisy. I think this is the real issue here.

Anony Mouse's picture

I just don't search on Yahoo !

I just don't use Yahoo search at all. It is probably the last engine I go to.

As a web developer who loves open source, I favor Google and use only LInux on my servers. I do use Windows 2K on desktop simply because of the investment I have in software. I know there are many open source programs, I use some of those too, but teaching this old dog (61+) new tricks just eats too much of my time.

In short...avoid Yahoo and stick with a GOOD search engine.

angrykeyboarder's picture

OK but what does this have to do with the subject?

Yahoo! Answers and Yahoo! Search are two different things (just as Google Search and Google Maps are two different things).

Scott
I've never used an OS I didn't (dis)like.
I'm angrykeyboarder™ and I approved this message.

Anony Mouse's picture

It's their stuff...

...so Yahoo! gets to decide what we can say. They don't like Open Source? Then those who do probably need to just stop using any of their services.

As far as I can see, Yahoo! has nothing of their own, that isn't available elsewhere. Mail, photo host, search engine, "answers" - everything is available from other sources that don't censor.

I don't know if people should "boycott" Yahoo!, but certainly if Yahoo! doesn't provide what they need, then there is no good reason to keep using it. It's not like they have a monopoly on anything, that if you don't use Yahoo!, you can't accomplish things. They have competition, and it's usually more agreeable to the Open Source ideals. Use it and don't use Yahoo! If they aren't swayed by ethical considerations, they will be convinced by loss of income. And their income depends on people using their products, advertisers seeing big numbers.

Anony Mouse's picture

I'm on the "who still uses yahoo" bandwagon

Sorry, but it's true.

Not many people use it. I foretold the impending doom, touted google from the start, invested when everyone was into some strange "yahoo" mindset, chuckled at the commercials.

Doesn't surprise me, but in a nutshell: It's yahoo. Who cares?

Anony Mouse's picture

Ditto

well put

Anony Mouse's picture

Annoying, but not very important

Who actually uses Yahoo? The whole thing has been a basket case since about 2001. Anyone still silly enough to use Yahoo deserves whatever they get. If you have some aversion to using Google (I don't, but I understand and respect the arguments of those who do) then Ask.com is many times better than the company that actively helps to put Chinese dissidents in jail - both in terms of search result quality and on ethical grounds.

Anony Mouse's picture

Ask.com

Except that Ask.com distributes malware-laden crap like Smiley Central.

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo Has never been that great

Yahoo's search engine has always been trumped by its rivals and its Yahoo! Answers service is just a gimmick that has failed itself. If you ever go look through the questions asked there, a majority are unanswered, answered without any citations or references to back up the claims made, or answered erroneously. I have never trusted Yahoo for anything other than free e-mail, which even that they do an abismal job(e-mails with the title "SPAM!!!" get past their magical spam filter. In my mind, Yahoo itself is just on giant pile of spam.

Anony Mouse's picture

BSD

Strange. Doesn't Yahoo run its web services on freeBSD? See http://searchdns.netcraft.com/?host=yahoo.com&position=limited&lookup=Wait..

Homer's picture

Yahoo are hypocrites

Yes, Yahoo certainly does use plenty of Open Source, which makes their anti-FOSS bias on Yahoo! Answers all the more ironic, and indeed hypocritical.

Then again, so do Novell, Xandros and Linspire ... but that didn't stop them making pacts with the Devil over unfounded IP infringement allegations.

Yahoo's close ties with Microsoft are irrefutable and well documented, and now we're starting to see that bias manifest itself in the form of censorship. Yahoo's current use of FOSS does not seem to have deterred them in that endeavour.

Anony Mouse's picture

Well, consider this...

Well, consider this... Linspire was a very bad Linux distributor. The whole concept of Linspire (Which used to be called Lindows.) was to make Linux JUST LIKE WINDOWS. Now, you can already imagine that really *hurts* a distribution's reputation and credibility in a market that is largely against Microsoft. Throw in an extremely aggressive attitude toward including proprietary software as something Linux "needs" and you have a textbook bad distro. Now, in my opinion, I'm not 100% against proprietary software like Stallmanists are. But I do try to find a good free alternative long before I turn to a proprietary solution. I use only two proprietary things in Ubuntu: nVidia drivers and Flash.

Novell's Linux operations are headed by Miguel de Icaza, who is, unfortunately, a Microsoft ass-kisser, frequently labelled a traitor to the FOSS movement. This guy seems to have an ORGASM every time Microsoft introduces some technology the Linux community doesn't want, and thus he starts developing it. Garbage like Mono (Linux .Net), Moonlight (Linux Silverlight), and OOXML (A so-called "open" standard.). I wouldn't really believe with that guy at the helm of Linux operations of Novell that it would be surprising Novell would do a deal with the devil.

Xandros, on the other hand, is an absolute surprise. No history of slobbering over Windows features, or trying to bear Microsoft's firstborn. My guess is their upper management just wasn't very bright and just fell for it.

Homer's picture

Xandros has no excuses

They may have been ignorant of the poor relationship between Microsoft and the Free Software community, but I can't believe they were ignorant of Microsoft's previous record of unethical practises ... after all - the Vole was charged by the DOJ with crimes under the Sherman Act, and that was pretty big news that even laymen outside of IT circles heard about. Microsoft has a track record that reads like a list of citations against a bunch of gangsters.

No ... Andy Typaldos (Xandros CEO) knew he was sleeping with the enemy, just as Koichi Yano (Turbolinux CEO) did.

Anony Mouse's picture

So Yahoo thinks it has all the answers??

I just find this funny. Yahoo is a second rate search engine when compared to the Google powerhouse, and this "Yahoo Answers" service has been one of the only new selling point for yahoo I have seen in some time. They cannot possibly claim to have "answers" when they begin to censor certain points of view. I wonder how long Yahoo would stay up if they practiced what they preached and ran all MS windows servers (since more than half the net runs on free & open source software). This will only affect people who already dont know any better (since anyone that does is not using yahoo). Anyway, yahoo sux and will eventually be bought out or fade into obscurity because of closed mind leadership and failure to do anything innovative and push the envelope.

-KoN

Anony Mouse's picture

What is says in the community guidelines....

Here's a quote that I found:

"Do not Post content for advertising or commercial purposes."

Could it be that?

Homer's picture

Are "Open Source" suggestions classed as "advertising"?

Ubuntu is a Free Software distro. Since when is it advertising to make a suggestion to use Free Software?

And if a person asks for help with insurmountable difficulties with Vista, and a poster suggests they downgrade to XP instead, wouldn't that qualify more as "advertising", since XP is a proprietary and commercial product? Tell me there's a difference.

No, this is clearly a case of bias on Yahoo's part. I've no doubt they'll use whatever petty excuses they can invent from a broad interpretation of their "policies and guidelines", but their motivation is obvious.

Anony Mouse's picture

yahoo sucks

They also kill my answers containing suggestions to use Open Source alternatives.science then i do not use yahoo answer any more and will stop useing yahoomail too.Lets boycott answers.yahoo sucks just like ms

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo Censoring Open Source

Anony Mouse's picture

Boycott everything microsux even asp sites.

Notice that aspx extension at the end of the hotshadow url, that's a microsux server. Boycott all that is microsux even xbox, msnbc, msn, etc.. You could find a site that uses a php script to do the same thing. Even though the hotshadow server has you search through google, going to hotshadow is like asking the devil to ask god your question for you. I'll see if I can find a php script to do the same thing that evil hotshadow asp script does. GNU/LINUX: IT'S ALL ABOUT FREEDOM!

Anony Mouse's picture

I have stopped using any of

I have stopped using any of Yahoo's service excerpt flickr now since 2001. The search sux and the homepage is crap. The directory is pretty good but I seldom use it. Yes I agree that they should be thought a lesson by anyone anything.

Anony Mouse's picture

so true.

so true, i've tried suggesting open source alternatives to their messaging client , like gaim, kopete, etc , since yahoo messenger for linux do not work anymore. voila , i can't find my post anymore.

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo

Yahoo and Microsoft never supported open source ;-)

Owen

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo has 'killed' me 3 times! Suggest Open Source cures!

Twice since March 2007, my identities and accounts have been totally erased, as level 6 Yahoo answers guru with 14% Best Answers, out of more than 6,500 questions!

This time, my mail account was left operational, but my yahoo answers account is suspended. I have answered technical questions with the only solution possible, for a 'dead' hard drive, and the victim needs to copy files. LiveCDrom of BSD or Linux does it painlessly.

My comments to the Yahoo moderators is that BSD is what runs Yahoo, and suggesting a *BSD or GNU/Linux solution is NOT a violation of their rules!

Yes, Yahoo needs to fall HARD, and be the newest victim of association with "Multiple Convicted Felon Pirate Microsoft"!

Anony Mouse's picture

Flickr -> Picassa

Mass movement from Flickr.com to an alternative Picture platform would help send a message. http://picasa.google.com/ or similar.

cheers,
macewan

Anony Mouse's picture

I'm with you Flickr->Picassa

I'm with you Flickr->Picassa

Anony Mouse's picture

I'm with you Flickr->Picassavv

Flickr->Zooomr

Anony Mouse's picture

Flickr to Picasa

yep, i'm too

Anony Mouse's picture

f**kers..

i'm currently using their crappy email service. i'll be ditching that soon...

Anony Mouse's picture

get gmail

you can even set up gmail as your pop3 client to grab all the messages from your yahoo account, then get rid of it. no lost messages and more storage, better labeling system a better company. no brainer.

Anony Mouse's picture

"Hi" from AmandaKerik

I find that we agree on many things - I too wonder about the hidden interests and the not so hidden ones that shape the actions of huge corporations.
I hate that it points to an abuse of their power, even in minute ways. I mean, yes, it was just one post in a place that probably gets thousands of abusive / spamming "answers" a day, and things do fall through the cracks...
But very few people speak up, so it's hard to know how many others have been accused of abuse for just trying to help.
Feel free to comment on my blog,
Amanda

PS
Your captcha is one of the hardest to read I've ever seen.

Homer's picture

Power Corrupts

Same thing on GooTube. I find it odd that sometimes I'll discover that quite a seemingly harmless video has been pulled for "copyright violations", when there are many more obvious violations on that site (some very high profile ones in particular).

It make you wonder who's yanking who's chain. Or IOW it's not what you know, it's who you control.

Ref: the Captcha. Good, it's working then ;)

Anony Mouse's picture

DMCA

Copyright is an entirely different issue to what Yahoo is doing, and is entirely beyond Google/Youtube's control. Youtube is not obliged to search for and remove copyrighted material themselves, which is why there are obvious high-profile violations. However, under the safe-harbor provision of the DMCA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act) they have to remove videos immediately if they receive a notification from the copyright holder claiming infringement. (Users can file a counter-notification to have the video restored). If Youtube didn't do this, they would be liable for every copyright infringement on their site. The only practical and legal option for Youtube is what they are currently doing, and it has nothing to do with corruption or censorship.

Homer's picture

It's not just copyright material on YouTube

Four clips Thailand says insulted its revered king:

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6183038.html

That's nothing to do with the DMCA, that's just censorship, pure and simple.

Then there was this fiasco:

Want a video removed from YouTube? Send along a fake takedown notice pretending to be from the copyright holder. At least, it’s a prank that worked for a 15 year old from Perth, Australia, who sent a signed form to YouTube pretending to be from the Australian Broadcasting Company. The form requested the takedown of hundreds of clips from "The Chaser’s War on Everything"

http://mashable.com/2007/04/14/youtube-takedown/

This "shoot first, ask questions later" policy is Draconian censorship, not justice, especially when it also results in unjustified account suspensions and possible criminal proceedings.

Oh yes, certainly YouTube did eventually restore those accounts (I don't know if the video clips were ever restored), but the damage was already done. Whatever happened to the premise of being innocent until proven guilty? The DMCA is a law worthy of the Nazis.

http://i11.tinypic.com/49bkkzc.png

Anony Mouse's picture

still

GooTube is just trying to protect itself. Yahoo, however, is going far beyond that.

Anony Mouse's picture

Yahoo's censorship is the issue here

While google/youtube video has some issues currently, let's not digress from the more nefarious point. That Yahoo offers a service that is supposed to provide with the best answers, but they delete BEST answers that go against corporate interests. Yahoo DELETES regular user accounts that offer good alternatives to Microsoft software.
Let's think about that again: Yahoo, a search engine, removes useful information posted by users, for users, on their "users helping users" portion of their website.
Yahoo is showing that they can no longer be trusted, their forum sites can no longer be trusted, and perhaps even their search results can no longer be trusted. Yahoo is turning into one big sponsored ad site with nothing relavent left to see.

Anony Mouse's picture

agreed is this not violation

agreed

is this not violation of freedom of speech?

they have control over specific continental and country settings... so in the United Stats what yahoo is doing should be against the law.

Anony Mouse's picture

NO, it is not a freedom of speech issue.

The First Amendment guarantees your freedom of speech will not be infringed on by the government. Do you people not ever take civics? I see this pop up every single day from some clue-free individual.

What Yahoo is doing probably is illegal, because it's collusion with Microsoft, but, they are running a private property, and they do have the right to set rules on that property. It *may* be collusion. Otherwise, it's perfectly legal. If it bothers you, start complaining. Meanwhile, learn something about the Constitution. You live here, don't you?

Anony Mouse's picture

You byourself need to take a course in civil rights law

Sorry, but you revealed your ignorance of basic U.S. civil rights law, by saying INCORRECTLY that the law protects only against civil rights violations by the government, not privately owned businesses.

See, for example, federal statute 42 U.S. Section 1983, and caselaw thereon. And you will see countless times where courts held that privately owned businesses were found guilty / liable for violating the civil rights of individuals or groups, including many class actions.

I find it hard to believe that you would put your foot in your mouth so readily, knowing as you should that many restaurant chains, etc. have been successfully sued for discrimination against blacks, or other harms.

Of course yahoo can be held liable for infringing upon someone's constitional right to Freedom of Speech and other rights.

You need to stop spreading false rumors.

Are you perhaps a shill working for yahoo itself, trying to keep a lid on it?

Homer's picture

I mostly agree

I agree with your technical points of law, however - as to your point about "you live here, don't you?", may I ask:

Where exactly is "here"?

I'm not an American, I don't live in the U.S. In fact most of the IP hits to my site are located outside the U.S.

So I think it is a typically American narcissistic view, to automatically assume that when others talk about "freedom" or "law", that those people should either know or understand American culture, much less care.

Try to remember, the Internet is an international entity, and there's more people using it than just Americans.

Anony Mouse's picture

"HERE"

Yahoo is based in the US. If Yahoo is violating Free Speech, they're doing so in the US. So, I assume the idiot who knows nothing about the First Amendment lives HERE.

Homer's picture

You make a lot of assumptions

As I've already said, but I'll state it again since you seem to have missed it the first time, I am not arguing against your assertion about the point of U.S. law.

What I am questioning is your assumptions that the poster in question is living in the U.S., and should therefore have an intimate knowledge of American law, the constitution, or any other aspect of American culture, and that since Yahoo is based in the U.S. then the only people who use that service are U.S. citizens.

I don't live in the U.S., but I do use Yahoo's services. I also would be inclined to ask why such censorship issues are not covered by U.S. law - does that make me an idiot for asking that question?

What do you know about German law, or Japanese, or Australian law?

Does your lack of knowledge of laws outside the U.S. make you an idiot too?

It's one thing to correct someone on a point of law, but it's quite another thing to make arrogant assumptions about what people should, or should not, know about your country.

Anony Mouse's picture

It's a big wide world out

It's a big wide world out there you know! I haven't a clue what the First Amendment is either. Funnily enough, it wasn't covered in the UK at school.