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Au Revoir, Yahoo! Answers


On this program, we ask a lot of big questions. But we're now going to pose a few that are, well, less substantial.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1, BYLINE: Will my laptop get heavier if I put more files on it?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Should spaghetti be way shorter?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: How do I turn off caps lock?


For nearly 16 years, questions like these were posted to Yahoo! Answers for anyone to answer. Sometimes the questions were vulnerable, profound, like, what does being in love feel like? Often the wisdom of the crowd was not so wise.

CHANG: Yahoo! Answers shut down today, with highly important, user-submitted inquiries in the balance. Cue our NPR correspondents. We asked Stephen Thompson of Pop Culture Happy Hour, who is a bigger star - ALF or Tony Danza?

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: ALF. He's an alien on a sitcom. He's trying to eat the family cat. He's got his catchphrases. And Tony Danza - he's an actor who was also, like ALF, on sitcoms in the '80s. Like all of us, he's a flesh and blood human being. Tony Danza the man is 70 years old, and his fame has ebbed and flowed. But ALF has not aged a day. I have a talking ALF puppet in my house, as one does, and it has always looked exactly the same. My kids know who ALF is and not just because that puppet visits them in their nightmares. They've seen parodies of ALF. They've seen references to ALF on "The Simpsons." So not to take anything away from Tony Danza, who is famous, but fame-wise, he is no ALF.

CORNISH: NPR human being Stephen Thompson. Next, we posed an economics question to Mary Childs from Planet Money. How much are 120 Silly Bandz worth?

MARY CHILDS, BYLINE: Silly Bandz were this big craze in 2010 among children and also myself. They were $5 for a pack of 24 that summer, and the company sold millions of packs that year. But the fad faded by the end of the year. Some stores started slashing prices. You could get five packs for $5, which is a total bargain. Today, you can buy a pack of 24 Silly Bandz for $4, so 120 would be $30 if shipping is free. And you can get off-brand Silly Bandz. A pack of 144 is, like, 25 bucks. But these may be worth way more to you if Silly Bandz are for some reason very precious to you, as they are to me. So you may be willing to pay a lot more than that. It just depends on what's valuable to you.

CHANG: Senior Silly Bandz correspondent Mary Childs. And finally, a round of quick questions for the Science Desk's Geoff Brumfiel - does a fart contain DNA?

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: If it does, it's not very much.

CHANG: Can you clone a pizza?


CHANG: Will bong water get my plants high?

BRUMFIEL: Ask the plants.

CHANG: If I send a spear into space and it pierces the sun, will it explode?

BRUMFIEL: Well, it's unclear what the it is. If you're talking about the spear, no, the spear won't explode. And if you're talking about the sun, that won't explode, either.

CORNISH: The always sunny Geoff Brumfiel. And with that, another chapter of the internet closes. So we leave this here for when future generations exhume the Yahoo! Answers archive and ask, what was that all about anyway?

(SOUNDBITE OF KRAFTWERK SONG, "COMPUTER WORLD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Audie Cornish
Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.
Sam Yellowhorse Kesler is an Assistant Producer for Planet Money. Previously, he's held positions at NPR's Ask Me Another & All Things Considered, and was the inaugural Code Switch Fellow. Before NPR, he interned with World Cafe from WXPN. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and continues to reside in Philadelphia. If you want to reach him, try looking in your phone contacts to see if he's there! You'd be surprised how many people are in there that you forgot about.