Day 6

The McElroy brothers say goodbye to Yahoo! Answers ahead of the site's imminent demise

In the 11 years since they began their podcast, the McElroy brothers's following has grown considerably. Justin, Travis and Griffin have since expanded their podcasting empire, but it all started with Yahoo! Answers.

'What is kind of touching about Yahoo! Answers is that there's not a monetary incentive to help'

Brothers Justin, Travis and Griffin host the comedy podcast, My Brother, My Brother, and Me. (Sarah Deragon)

The most storied question and answer platform on the web will soon disappear forever. If you go looking for Yahoo! Answers after May 4, you'll be automatically redirected to Yahoo!'s homepage.

Yahoo! Answers has been a fixture on the internet since 2005. The website is essentially an open-forum discussion page, where users post questions and helpful respondents share their best advice.

And over time, it has become a reliable source of hilarity, more than a place to find any kind of genuine advice.

No one knows that better than Justin and Travis McElroy, hosts of the comedy advice podcast, My Brother, My Brother, and Me, along with their younger brother, Griffin. 

In the 11 years since they began the podcast, their following has grown considerably. The brothers have since expanded their podcasting empire to more than a dozen podcasts and published a book, Everybody Has a Podcast (Except You).

But, for the brothers, it all started with Yahoo! Answers.

"We knew, my brothers and I, that we wanted to do an advice show, but we didn't have an audience to advise," explained eldest McElroy brother, Justin.

"So from that first episode, we leaned on Yahoo! Answers for people to help. It lowered the pressure because they probably would never hear our advice, so there's no danger of them taking it."

The McElroy Family brand includes over a dozen podcasts covering everything from gaming to medicine. Pictured are brothers Justin, Travis and Griffin performing at a live show in Detroit, Mich. (Marc Nader / Marc Nader Photography)

Horse and ghost questions were popular

My Brother, My Brother, and Me still features Yahoo! Answers as part of the show — the podcast usually ends with one question from the site. But they no longer rely quite as heavily on the website as they once did, and the brothers say they have enough segments and fan-submitted content to carry on just fine after the site goes dark.

But years of scouring Yahoo! Answers for the strangest questions they could find meant middle brother Travis began noticing a few common themes.

"There's so many questions about horses," said Travis. "It has influenced our show to become, I think, 50 per cent horse content at this point. And then the other 50 per cent is mostly ghost content."

"A lot of ghost stuff there on Yahoo! Answers, a lot of horse stuff and a lot about food and what you could do with that food, sometimes illegally."

Justin, Travis, and Griffin perform a live show for their podcast, My Brother, My Brother, and Me, before the pandemic. (Michael Bain)

For Justin, the best recurring questions are the ones that most people would be too embarrassed to ask in real life.

"One of my favourites is speculating on the religious status of fictional characters," he said.

"We've had: is the Joker a Christian? Is Squidward a Christian? Will the Loch Ness Monster get into Christian heaven? There's a lot of speculation about that."

Other notable standouts include, "If I own the Mona Lisa, can I legally eat it?" 

"The thing is, I still do not know," said Travis. "I did not know then and I do not know now. Can you go to prison for eating the Mona Lisa if you own it? I don't know, and it keeps me awake at night."

As Yahoo! Answers' demise approaches, the brothers have found themselves reflecting on what the site provided for humanity as a whole.

"I think what is kind of touching about Yahoo! Answers is that there's not a monetary incentive to help," said Justin.

"The impetus is just like, I want my lived experience on this planet to be worthwhile to another human being. And I think that is so human."

Written and produced by Hannah Theodore.

Hear full episodes of Day 6 on CBC Listen, our free audio streaming service.

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