Yahoo Answers on Mobile

October 12th, 2006

My oldest daughter started kindergarden this year and also started playing soccer. Well she kind of just watches right now, but we’re working on that.

I know one of the dads, Andy, from the local tech scene. Andy is VP of Technology for a local software shop and is an incredibly sharp cat. When we start chatting at the games, we talk about things like RSS, YouTube, P2P, streaming, etc. Now, I also know a few other soccer dads. Steve is the team manager of the Excel Sports Cycling Team. Steve, his teammates, and I have crossed paths on many occasions racing bikes. When Steve and I chat, we talk about criteriums, carbon fiber, AT, power, EPO, components, etc. John, another dad, and I go back a ways. We were initially connected through a mutual friend. We have threatened to go fly fishing on many occasions over the years, and when we talk we have our own set of terminology.

So, my point is that each conversation has its own geek speak that to an outsider sounds completely Greek. For me that geek speak which is foreign to me is soccer. I played football my whole life and the rules and lingo in soccer leave me baffled. When folks are talking about soccer, I feel like a shmoe and sort of drift off. I wish I knew more about the game.

There is clearly a problem here looking for a solution. I have my cell phone with me and would love to be able look up some of the soccer terms on the fly, get answers, and get involved in that conversation.
To that end, on the way to Emma’s first game we stopped at Barnes and Noble. I picked up a cup of coffee and an issue of Business 2.0. One of the articles was about Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers had 12 million uniques in June (YouTube had 13 million). This is clearly a hot and valuable web property and for a reason. It is a great resource for learning things in a hurry.

I could instantly become a soccer expert with Yahoo Answers on my cell phone. However, Yahoo Answers is just unusable in my mobile browser – the page took forever to load ( 3+ minutes for the landing page, and 4+ minutes to get a lis of related questions… yikers) and the extensive scrolling made the experience too painful. I could run the Answers site through a transcoder and get the page load times down, but I still end up scrolling and having to enter some long munged up URL. But not to worry… I spent a few weekends and evenings building the Mobile Ask mashup with the help of the Yahoo API, and it is now here for you!

I can now be a real time Cliff Clavin (or at least impress my buddies) no matter where I am or what the topic of conversation… and you can too (just don’t be as damn annoying as Cliff)! You can get a Windows Mobile Smartphone or Pocket PC or Pocket PC build here. IT IS A SIMPLE BUT POWERFUL MOBILE APPLICATION and it is FREE!
Check out the screen shots to see what it is all about:

Yahoo Ask Mobile Yahoo Ask Mobile Yahoo Ask Mobile

And get Mobile Ask here, now!  I hope this helps you in some way…

Entry Filed under: Mobile


  • 1. Udi Falkson  |  October 12th, 2006 at 12:54 pm


    This is awesome!

    I’m one of the engineers on the Answers team. I just wanted you to know that we are working on a light weight mobile solution. However, in the mean time it looks like you’ve made great use of our API to offer this service. I’ll be sure to show the rest of the team.


  • 2. Kevin  |  October 12th, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you Udi… you guys have done all the heavy lifting and opened that up. I just added a usable little front end that solves a pain I have.

    Looking forward to your mobile solution. That should be cool!

  • 3. Phil  |  October 12th, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Sounds cool! I’ll check it out!

  • 4. Mario  |  October 12th, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    Nice work! I am one of the editors for the Answers blog, and we would really like to feature your Mobile Ask mashup in a post. Would you mind if we referenced your post and your screenshots?


  • 5. Yumio  |  October 12th, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    This is great stuff! We’ll keep on working hard to make sure we provide a good platform for apps like these.

    Yumio – Product Manager for Yahoo! Answers

  • 6. Kevin  |  October 12th, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    Yumio… I think it is fantastic that you guys are exposing these interfaces to developers.

    Would be nice to be able to post questions/answers from mobile for Yahoo account holders… maybe a future release ;)

  • 7. Kevin Perkins, CEO Greenlight Wireless  |  October 13th, 2006 at 12:45 am

    Hey Kev

    Love how you tie in “real life” to technology… dude, wait ’til your daughter’s team needs you to start ref’ing for playoff points! (That happened to me this year, BTW.) Then you’ll REALLY be going “WTF” with all the soccer rules!

    Anyway, nice job on this. Keep up the good work!

    – KP

  • 8. Kevin  |  October 13th, 2006 at 1:43 am

    kevin… i’ll be getting my revenge soon enough. next up on the sports roster is my son. he’ll be 3 soon and he is all about football – american style, and i have that covered big time.

  • 9. Opie D.  |  October 19th, 2006 at 10:38 am

    I love Yahoo Answers but recently discovered an alternative service that I actually prefer. It’s called AskMeNow. I’m no expert on this stuff but I feel like it’s easier to use and the answers are more accurate. I’d be really interested to see what you think.

  • 10. Kevin  |  October 19th, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Cool, I’ll check it out. There is certainly something very nice about using an application that you built though, I must say ;)

  • 11. Mario  |  October 20th, 2006 at 11:59 am


    Just wanted to let you know that your app is being featured in the blog today. Thanks for letting us highlight your work!

    Mario – Answers Search Editorial

  • 12. Jayant Agarwalla  |  October 20th, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    Well personally I think Yahoo Answers is an AMAZING concept. BUT, it is being ruined by people who post stupid questions or questions that can be easily resolved with a simple search.

    In fact that is the reason why Yahoo shows search results when you type a question! And it also shows similar questions recently as you type your question. This was done as users posted duplicates of stupid questions.

    I am head admin at Scrabulous – – where users can play Scrabble online. I answered a few questions about Scrabble online and the next day I get the same questions by new users! These are the types who spoil the site sometimes.

  • 13. Kevin  |  October 20th, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Cool Mario… my pleasure for letting you all highlight Mobile Ask and thank you for opening up the API.

  • 14. Kevin  |  October 20th, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    Jayant… Answers has controls in place for the community to mark questions as good/bad as well as report abuse. I hope that will help weed out some of the noise!

  • 15. SEYED  |  October 21st, 2006 at 6:53 pm


  • 16. SEYED  |  October 21st, 2006 at 6:57 pm


  • 17. SEYED  |  October 21st, 2006 at 7:09 pm


  • 18. Standing Mobile » Y&hellip  |  October 23rd, 2006 at 12:11 am

    [...] Once again Yahoo Answers on my mobile phone saved the day.  Mobile Ask is so cool! [...]

  • 19. Push Button Paradise | Bl&hellip  |  October 23rd, 2006 at 3:25 am

    [...] Just ran into this. Nice! Mobile mashups are getting some serious momentum. [...]

  • 20. Vasudev Ram  |  October 28th, 2006 at 11:03 am

    This is a really good idea, Kevin.

    I’ve always thought that practically *all* software should be built as a set of APIs and then the final interface, whether deskttop, web or mobile, should just be a layer of calls on top of the API.

    Basic software engineering stuff, really, but not too many people do it that way. And later they (or their managers or clients) crib when they realize they’ll have to rework their code a lot to target it to a different UI or even a different need.

    Eric Raymond says is best – in hs book The Art of UNIX Programming – he calls it the Principle of Separation of the Engine (or Implementation) from the Interface.


    “Now creating PDFs from Python is even easier” – Steve Holden

  • 21. Product Pulse – Oc&hellip  |  October 30th, 2006 at 1:06 am

    [...] Q&A on the go: A few months ago, we launched the Yahoo! Answers API on the Yahoo! Developer Network. Well, a Colorado soccer dad snagged it to feed Yahoo! Answers to his mobile phone so he could brush up on his soccer lingo. Read more here. Thanks to him, you can find out what a chip shot is (or anything else, for that matter) while on the road. [...]

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