Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Yahoo”

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.

 

 

 

Frustration is an improvement on satisfaction?

We’ve improved your Yahoo Groups experience.

So say Yahoo!

But since they changed the user interface, my experience as a user has been frustration. Things that used to work no longer do so. Things that were easy to do are now much harder and more timeconsuming to do. You can spend hours looking for where they have hidden a function that used to be easy to find, only to find that it has been removed. And wasting time and frustration do not constitute an improvement in my understanding of the word “improve”.

When will people learn the simple adage: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yahoo! Mail, which I had used since 1996, has now become completely unusable, because they’ve removed everything that worked and replaced it with a lot of useless stuff. And now they’re busy wrecking their mailing list service too.

Yahoo hacked – warning

Yesterday I uploaded a family history file to one of our groups on Yahoogroups, and today my wife wanted to have a look at it and her antivirus software chirped a warning.

I investigated and found it that the Yahoogroups site had been hacked, and all the filenames pointed to a malware site. A quick look at some other forums showed the same thing – the filenames had been hacked.

I’ve tried to report this to Yahoo! They don’t make it easy. They tell you they only accept reports of technical vulnerabilities (which this is) from “the online security community” (whatever that may be). It’s a bit like being mugged and wanting to report it to the police station and being told that you can only report it at the police station where you live, and then being told that you can only report it at the police station where you were mugged, and then being told, no, you must go to the police station where the mugger lives, and generally being given the run-around. Well my Yahoogroups files have been mugged, and so, I think, have a lot of other people’s.

To check, hover your cursor over the link to the file you want to download from Yahoohroups. Look at the bottom left of your screen (in Firefox, I don’t know about other browsers) and see the URL it shows you. If it says “yahoofs”, back off. Wait for Yahoo! to fix it.

Farewell to MyBlogLog friends

I suppose it’s time to say goodbye to my MyBlogLog friends.

MyBlogLog provided the little widget that showed who had visited my blog, and, if they were themselves bloggers, provided a link back to their blogs. I’ve spent many hours surfing blogs that way — following someone who visited my blog, and then someone who had visited their blog and so on. If one wanted to visit a blog again, one could join that blog’s “community” and have a list of them, so it was a form of social blogrolling. You could have your own blogroll, but also see other people’s blogrolls on MyBlogLog, and I’ve found many interesting blogs in that way.

But that’s all ending on 21 May, since MyBlogLog was taken over by Yahoo, and Yahoo have announced that they are killing it on that date. So on the right is the “in memoriam” of what the MyBlogLog widget used to look like, frozen in time, something to remember it by, a preserved piece of blogging history.

Tomorrow we’ll be going away on holiday, and by the time we get back, MyBlogLog will be gone, so the time to say goodbye is now. I may add some of the blogs I used to visit on MyBlogLog to my regular blogroll, but I’ll probably forget some of them, and so will tend to lose touch. While we are on holiday I may ocassionally manage to post something at a wireless hotspot, but the places where one accesses those are not usually conducive to blog surfing.

There is also BlogCatalog, which was similar to MyBlogLog, but it was revamped about six months ago, to make it more difficult to navigate and use, and most of its functionality has gone. I’ll leave the widget up while it still works, but I won’t click through to the BlogCatalog site much, because even though some of the stuff is still there, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to find any more.

Perhaps some of my MyBlogLog contacts will still visit my blogs, but I’ll never know if they have done so unless they leave comments. So farewell, Adios, Hamba kahle — maybe we’ll see each other again, maybe not.

Dead: social blogrolling

Yet another Yahoo! service bites the dust.

I received the following e-mail from Yahoo!

We will officially discontinue Yahoo! MyBlogLog effective May 24, 2011. Your agreement with Yahoo!, to the extent that it applies to the Yahoo! MyBlogLog, will terminate on May 24, 2011.

The other social blogrolling service, BlogCatalog, became quite unusable about 5-6 months ago, so that’s the end of that. I wonder if it’s a sign that blogging itself is in decline?

Yahoo! has a long history of taking over useful online services and then abandoning them. First it was Webring, then Geocities, and now MyBlogLog. That means that the last useful service they maintain is their listserver, Yahoogroups. It’s also something they took over from someone else, an outfit called e-Groups. If they abandon that, there’ll be nothing left that will make it worth remaining a member of Yahoo!

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.

One month to pumpkin day

One month from today Yahoo!’s magic Geocities coach will turn into a pumpkin, and many terabyes of information on the web will be lost forever.

It’s about 10 years since Yahoo! took over Geocities, one of the first social networking sites on the Internet. After destroying the social networking aspect of it (which is was one of the things that gave it its initial appeal) they will be closing it forever on 26 October.

Millions of people have created web pages on Geocities. Some of what they have posted there is good, some bad, some mediocre, and some is irreplaceable. Even if the information is moved to new sites, billions of links to it will be broken.

Some of the sites that will disappear have information on genealogy and family history. I’ve listed a few of them here, and anyone who wants to add more links to the list may do so, so that people can find them in the short time remaining.

But that is only a fraction of the information that will be lost.

Three years ago some of us had a synchroblog (the very first synchroblog ever), and my contribution was a journal article I wrote and posted on Geocities. Even if the article is moved to a new location, all the links in those synchroblog posts will be broken.

One of the other victims of this kind of Yahoo! destruction was WebRing. To quote them

It was 15 years ago that Ashland, Oregon, high school student Sage Weil created the piece of script that could link different sites into one ring, into one Web Ring.

Not long after sharing the technology, Sage formed WebRing and witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity. So popular, in fact, that WebRing soon came to be owned by GeoCities.

WebRing too was a form of social networking on the Web, and Yahoo! bought it and destroyed it. Fortunately there was enough of the community spirit left that some people took it back and tried to revive it, and now they are offering to rescue Geocities sites by offering them an alternative hosting site, and an opportunity to try to rebuild the communities that Yahoo! shattered.

Well it’s one way of saving the pages, and I hope they have the capacity to do so, but unless they take over the domain, there’s little chance of saving the links.

I suspect that many of the people who lost interest in Geocities when the social networking and community aspect was destroyed have now established themselves in alternative places like Facebook, MySpace and Orkut, and won’t be bothered to go back.

Does Yahoo! have a death wish?

Yahoo! seem to be determined to drive away all their customers.

First they announced that they were closing their Geocities web sites (after years of neglect), which will break millions of links and mean the loss of much useful material from the web (as well as much rubbish).

Now my daughter has discovered that her Yahoo! mail account no longer works; she can read mail, but can’t reply.

It appears that the reason is that they have changed their mail service so that it no longer supports the Opera browser. As a result, my daughter has switched to Gmail.

Well, I’ve been advising her to do that for years, ever since I discovered just how unreliable Yahoo can be. They “lost” my Geocities web pages for two months. They eventually came back, but too late. Within two days of their disappearing from the web, I had moved them to a new host. Perhaps others whose web pages may be orphaned by the closing of Geocities could do that too. The only disadvantage is that Google searches still point to the old site.

No sooner were my Geocities pages back up than they lost my e-mail account for six months. And when it came back they had lost all my archived messages. They lost my Yahoo 360 account, which was no great loss because it was pretty clunky anyway. The only problem is that I have no access to anyone else on Yahoo 360, and they keep urging me to “join” — a bit stupid, since I have already joined.

Perhaps Yahoo are retrenching because they are losing money, but one reason for their losing money is that they are alienating their customers like this. They buy services (like Geocities and Webrings) from other people, and then mess them up, and wonder why they lose money. They recently took over MyBlogLog — I hope they don’t mess that up too. Actually it is pretty messed up already. On my other blog (and most WordPress blogs) they show that the only visitors are Eric, Reesa10, SteveHo and Rafer. People have been asking them to fix that bug for years, but it seems that they are neglecting MyBlogLog just as they are neglecting the other things they took over, which is why BlogCatalog is better — at least it shows who the real visitors are.

Liberal Party of South Africa

Well, I’ve found a new host for the web pages on the Liberal Party of South Africa, and the banning of opponents of apartheid, which were removed by Yahoo! a couple of weeks ago. I hope the new host proves more reliable than Yahoo! did, But I think the story needs to be told and available somewhere.

You’ll find most of our pages on the new site:

http://hayesfam.bravehost.com

and I hope the rest will be there in the next couple of days.

Note September 2012: no such luck. Bravenet removed it, just as Yahoo! did.

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Yahoo pulls the plug

About 10 years ago I started a personal Web page at Geocities. The site grew as I shared information with other people. Eventually Geocities was taken over by Yahoo, and today, suddenly and without warning, Yahoo blocked access to my web pages, and to my e-mail address (hayesstw@yahoo.com)and everything else linked to that Yahoo ID.

The implication is that I had somehow violated their terms of service. I’m not sure how I might have done that, but the only thing I can think of is that someone sent me one of those address update thingies, through a web site called Plaxo. I thought I would try out the Plaxo thing — it’s a sort of on-line address book, like the one Yahoo has, but with automatic updating. It had an option to import my Yahoo address book, so I did that, and the next thing I knew was that my Yahoo membership was terminated.

So the problem seems to be one of these turf wars between Internet companies. I can’t think of what else it might be.

The biggest problem, however, is that a few months ago I moved some academic research discussion forums, and a couple of fun ones, from the FamilyNet BBS network to YahooGroups, in the mistaken belief that they would be more versatile and reliable. Boy, was I mistaken! My BBS computer died, and I thought it wasn’t worth repairing it, and gatting the discussion forums between BBS echoes, E-mail lists and newsgroups. But perhaps BBSs are still better, even though the technology has not been updated for a long time. At least each BBS was under the control of its sysop, and the whole network was not at the mercy of a big company which could punish people arbitrarily if they were seen as somehow being unsupportive in their turf wars. Shades of Mr Vorster’s bannings and detentions in the “old South Africa”. Why were you banned? “The Minister in his wisdom sees fit.”

The discussion forum on African Independent Churches was quite small, but it was a useful contact medium for researchers. But I can no longer maintain it, or even hand it over to anyone else to maintain. Gone! Same with the New Religious Movements forum, which started on a university server in Canada, was gated to FamilyNet, then moved to YahooGroups. Gone.

And so on with all the others.

A blog is a poor substitute.

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