Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “mailing lists”

Are Yahoo! planning to pull the plug on Yahoogroups?

If you go to Yahoogroups web pages they tell you:

Welcome to the new Yahoo Groups
We’ve improved your Yahoo Groups experience. Check out what’s new:

Well that’s a lie.

What they’ve done is reduce the functionality of the whole site. Much of the reduced functionality only affects group owners and moderators, but the biggest problem is for users who want to read messages at the web site.

If you go to a particular message, you see it momentarily, and then it disappears. Then there is a button that says “View source”, and if you click that, you can read the message, but with distracting things like the full message headers, which are of little interest to most people.

Then you are shown a button that says “Show message” — and if you click it, it hides the message again.

Real intuitive, huh?

A really improved “Yahoogroups experience”?

Yahoo have never heard of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Their motto is, “If it ain’t broke, break it. ”

You can still read messages OK if you subscribe by e-mail, but it also seems that Yahoo have made it difficult for new subscribers to join. A friend of mine has been trying to subscribe to one of the groups I moderate for months, and hasn’t managed to do so.

I think they’ve decided to get rid of Yahoogroups, as they have with so many other things (Geocities, Webrings, MyBlogLog), but because it has been one of their more popular services, they want to make it unpopular before they pull the plug, so that no one will miss it when they finally do so.

 

 

 

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Yahoogroups just got harder to use

Yahoo! have just informed me that  they have made changes to my YahooGroups “experience”.

They just made YahooGroups a lot harder to use.

So the YahooGroups “experience” is frustration.

Yahoo! seem to like shooting themselves in the foot.

They started as a search engine, and Google produced a better one.

They introduced webmail, which was quite cool to start with, but then they made it harder to use and reduced its functionality so that it is now unusable.

They took over other successful services, like Geocities, Webrings and MyBlogLog, and destroyed the very things that had made them successful, and then closed them because people stopped using them and they were losing money on them.

They took over the eGroups public mailing list server, and there, for a change, they made some improvements. It worked well, and they added some useful services.

But it seems that they still haven’t learnt the important lesson: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

So now they’ve made the one decent thing they still had harder to use, and people will start moving away from it, and they will start losing money on it and close it down.

I recently invited some people to join some of the YahooGroups I moderate, and they couldn’t do so. And when I looked at what Yahoo! had done to it, I wasn’t surprised. There seems to be no way to join. But they have made it easier to create a new group. But it’s impossible for people to join an existing group.

And now there doesn’t seem to be a way to invite them either.

Does anyone know of a good, free public listserver that works?

Will someone take back eGroups, as they took back Webring?

 

 

 

 

 

Yahoo May Shut Down Some Services – NYTimes.com

Yahoo! has a history of taking over services from others, then mismanaging them, destroying the features and functionality that made them popular in the first place, and finally closing them down. Two examples are Webrings and Geocities.

Ironically much of what was left of Geocities was rescued by the revived Webring, and some was also rescued by Reocities.

Now there is the threat of more to come.

Yahoo May Shut Down Some Services – NYTimes.com:

As part of its effort to streamline its beleaguered Web business, Yahoo may close down several well-known Web products, including Delicious, a social bookmarking tool, and Upcoming, a social calendar.

The news surfaced online Thursday through what appears to be a leaked snapshot of a Yahoo presentation that shows several Yahoo services the company is apparently thinking about shuttering or merging with other services. The picture was first posted online by Eric Marcoullier, co-founder of MyBlogLog, a social network for bloggers that was acquired by Yahoo in 2007. Mr. Marcoullier no longer works at Yahoo and said on Twitter that he had found the slide on the Web.

MyBlogLog, the social blogrolling site, doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to, while its main rival, BlogCatalog, has gone completely down the tubes, after a “revamp” that destroyed most of its functionality.

I just hope that Yahoo! doesn’t ditch Yahoogroups, which is one of its best services. Yahoogroups is an exception to the rule: it is a service that Yahoo! took over (from e-groups) and actually improved.

Ordinary Internet users were unable to run mailing lists unless they had their own server, or knew of a friendly operator who would give them space on a server. E-groups provided a public list server that anyone could join. Yahoo! took it over, and they have added features like the possibility of posting links, exchanging files and photographs, setting up databases that anyone can contribute to, and a calendar of events. These features made the service useful to academic societies, which could discuss various topics, exchange papers, and collect information at a central point accessible to members. It is also useful to groups like genealogists dealing with a particular family or locality, and any group with a common interest.

Google tried to set up a rival in Googlegroups, which had the dubious advantage of also interfacing with Usenet newsgroups — those who participated from Googlegroups often had no sense of netiquette, and their inane contributions to many established groups caused many to “killfile” those who participated through Googlegroups. Google have now reduced the functionality of Googlegroups, and diffused it, leaving Yahoogroups, as far as I am aware, unrivalled in the field.

So I really, really hope that Yahoo! don’t decide to shut down Yahoogroups.

Books and reading

For several years I’ve kept in touch with people who share similar literary interests by means of Usenet newsgroups and mailing lists. Now many ISPs are withdrawing their news service (it does require rather a lot of server space) and so traffic in the newsgroups has dropped off a lot, and I’ve lost contact with a lot of the people with whom I used to have interesting conversations in the newsgroups.

I’ve found an alternative way of keeping in contact, through Good Reads, where you can find me at http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw. But more on that later (see below).

For those who have suffered the fate of losing access to newsgroups, there is a free news server at news.eternal-september.org where you can subscribe to the various newsgroups.

My favourite newsgroups for books and reading are:

The Tolkien group still thrives, but the others have almost emptied of participants since some of the major ISPs stopped their nntp service.

If you click on those links, your web browser should automatically take you to your default newsreader, but if your ISP is one of those that no longer provides news (I bet they didn’t reduce their subs for the reduced service) you will not be able to do much unless you set your news reader up to connect to a server like eternal-september.

There are also other newsgroups that are (or were) useful for those who like books and reading:

Most of the better-informed participants in rec.arts.books took themselves off to a Facebook group called The Prancing Half-Wits, but the Facebook interface is clunky, and does not lend itself to interactive discussions the way newsgroups do. alt.usage.english continues to thrive, perhaps because many of the participants are a bit more computer-savvy than most, and know how to connect to alternative news sources.

For those interested in the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien & Co) I’ve started a mailing list called Neo-Inklings, which you can find at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eldil/. To subscribe to it, send e-mail to eldil-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, but it is worth also visiting the web site, as there are facilities for uploading files and photos, creating polls and databases and more. I’ve invited some of the former members of the alt.books.cs-lewis newsgroup to join us there. For those interested mainly in the works of Charles Williams rather than the other Inklings, there is a Charles Williams list called Coinherence-L.

There are also several web sites for book lovers to keep track of their books and make contact with others with similar interests. Three of the best-known are Bibliophil, LibraryThing and Good Reads. For various reasons I prefer Good Reads.

Good Reads

GoodReads is a combination of a book catalogue and a social networking site for books, and I think it works better than the others.

Like most social networking sites, you can add people as “friends”, but in many social networks this is rendered useless by people wanting to add you as a “friend” when they don’t know you, don’t want to know you, share no common interests with you and you’ve never heard of them. It’s a bit like regarding everyone in the phone book as a “friend” — if everyone is your friend, then no one is.

But Good Reads provides a good way of seeing whether someone is likely to be your friend.

First you need to join, and enter some of the books that you have in your library or have read, starting with your favourites, but you can also add a few books that you really hate. Like other such sites, you are asked to rate and review them. When you’ve entered those books and rated them (with 1-5 stars), then you can look for friends. Find someone who owns some of your favourite books, look at their profile and click “compare books”.

There you can see if they’ve read your favourite books, and what they think of them. It’s expressed as a percentage. For example, with one of my friends (who sometimes reads my blog), it produced this result:

You and booklady have 21 books (or 7.27% of your library and 2.07% of her library) in common. Your tastes for those 21 ratings are 78% similar.

If it’s over 70%, go to the next step, which is the “book compatibility test”. This compares your ratings of some popular books in various genres, or if you’ve even read them. In this case my result was “Your compatibility with booklady is 63%.”

If you have read some of those popular books, but haven’t entered them and rated them, then do so, because it will make future comparisons easier.

So Good Reads is a good way to find and keep in touch with those with similar literary tastes.

MS Outlook and YahooGroups

Yesterday I got a message in a YahooGroups mailing list from a friend — let’s call him Pete.

Pete’s message began

ON BEHALF OF DAVE

I immediately wondered why Pete was writing on behalf of Dave.

Had Dave’s computer crashed?

Or, worse, had he been taken ill, had an accident, been kidnapped or arrested?

So I asked Pete why he was writing on Dave’s behalf, and was Dave OK, and he said he wasn’t writing on Dave’s behalf at all — the computer had put that phrase in automatically. He assumed that it was something done by YahooGroups.

I’m a member of several YahooGroups mailing lists, and I’ve belonged to some for years, and I’ve never seen it put in anything that before.

I asked Pete what mail reader he was using, and he said he was using MS Outlook.

I was aware that many Outlook users have problems in participating in mailing lists because of Outlooks deficient quoting system. I know that many of them have solved these problems by using Quotefix

http://home.in.tum.de/~jain/software/outlook-quotefix/

and I recommended Quotefix to Pete.

But none of those who have had quoting problems with Outlook have mentioned this particular problem — of some software, somewhere along the line, inserting text to the effect that the poster of a message was writing on behalf of someone else.

Perhaps some prankster has hacked the YahooGroups list server,

But whatever the cause may be, has anyone else had similar problems when using Outlook as a mailing list reader, whether with the YahooGroups or any other listserv?

Is it a problem with Outlook, or with the server, or with both?

And if you have found a solution, please let me know, so I can tell Pete.

MS Outlook and YahooGroups

Yesterday I got a message in a YahooGroups mailing list from a friend — let’s call him Pete.

Pete’s message began

ON BEHALF OF DAVE

I immediately wondered why Pete was writing on behalf of Dave.

Had Dave’s computer crashed?

Or, worse, had he been taken ill, had an accident, been kidnapped or arrested?

So I asked Pete why he was writing on Dave’s behalf, and was Dave OK, and he said he wasn’t writing on Dave’s behalf at all — the computer had put that phrase in automatically. He assumed that it was something done by YahooGroups.

I’m a member of several YahooGroups mailing lists, and I’ve belonged to some for years, and I’ve never seen it put in anything that before.

I asked Pete what mail reader he was using, and he said he was using MS Outlook.

I was aware that many Outlook users have problems in participating in mailing lists because of Outlooks deficient quoting system. I know that many of them have solved these problems by using Quotefix

http://home.in.tum.de/~jain/software/outlook-quotefix/

and I recommended Quotefix to Pete.

But none of those who have had quoting problems with Outlook have mentioned this particular problem — of some software, somewhere along the line, inserting text to the effect that the poster of a message was writing on behalf of someone else.

Perhaps some prankster has hacked the YahooGroups list server,

But whatever the cause may be, has anyone else had similar problems when using Outlook as a mailing list reader, whether with the YahooGroups or any other listserv?

Is it a problem with Outlook, or with the server, or with both?

And if you have found a solution, please let me know, so I can tell Pete.

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