Oh Yahoo! How I hate you – let me count the ways...

I remember back when you were young – you were just a humble directory of links, an large assortment of bookmarks – something like a Yellow Pages of the web. But for anyone to be in the directory they had to submit their URL to you via an online form and it had to be checked out by you before finally being added.

That was very tedious way to go about things and it sucked.

Yahoo! mail
Then later on - you did your own version of web based mail (it was at a time when everyone and their dog was providing their own versions of hotmail - they all jumped on the bandwagon seeing it as a revenue stream or eyeball sticky for adverts or something) and like all web based mail at that time – it sucked. You gave out such a mean paltry amount of space – so if a you as a user got a lot of spam (and web based mail addresses are a magnet for spam) or any mail with image attachments – one had to regularly check your mail online (in the days of dial up that was a pain) and keep constantly deleting things or very quickly would be 'over quota' and any new messages wouldn't be received. So going away for weekends or holidays without internet access – made it totally impracticable for mail. Even so it took Yahoo mail a long time to introduce spam filters – and then a bit longer after that to realise that that spam shouldn't still be counted towards the allowed quota. Then it took a longer time after that (and competition from Gmail's far, far more generous mailbox size) to up the allowance. But it came too little – too late guys. There's something to said for being innovators – rather than just imitators – and if you're going to be copyists then at least try to do something to improve and add value to what you're copying to make it attractive... OK? Like the way Google often manage to.

As it was I ended up using my yahoo mail as mainly a disposable catch-all for software and hardware 'registration' purposes – you know, where you need to collect some activation code or whatever – and thereafter the company takes it upon themselves to flood you endlessly with 'special offers' and 'upgrade now offers' – I allow that sort of mail to languish in my mailbox unread before I get around to deleting it still unread. Oh, and while I'm on the subject last year or the year before yahoo upgraded their mail UI. I tried it. It ran so slowly - all because it seemed far more concerned in updating the page just to show an endless rotation of damn banner ads that I had no interest whatsoever in (and most were adblocked anyway)– that it made reading and sorting mail so near totally unusable that I reverted back to it's old style pretty sharpish. That said, I haven't looked at my account for months and months now – it being a home for the aforementioned registration spam, and newsletters I signed up for and can't be bothered to read – oh, and a few dead inactive yahoo groups and spam – lots and lots and lots of spam. Because yahoo's spam filters are still pretty damn useless. So not a very good web-mail experience there then.

Yahoo – the search engine.
At some point rather than just a directory of links - you decided to try and be a web search engine. But your results always sucked. And with your home pages so chock full of links and lists and icons and clutter. Without realising it – you became a great advert for the young minimalist clutter-free, fast and useful results providing Google. Whoooops. It's taken you a long while to admit to that suckiness though. Nowadays you're letting Microsoft's new 'Bing' do the work for you aren't you? (Microsoft – mmmm, now there's another company that got where it has through either copying or buying up other companies innovations.)

I remember the original Geocities. They were great – a place where any amateur could knock together a homepage of their very own for free. Well – except for having to put up with a fairly small banner advert at the top. So great an idea – that you bought the company. So great that you went further and decided to lay a copyright claim to everyone's creator-generated content and then you really went to town with the adverts – great big pop-ups, ads running across the top, down the sides – and oh – surprise, surprise it only served to drive people away. Whoooops. Geocities is dead now. Which is a shame.

eGroups – Yahoo Groups.
Then there was eGroups – another great little company – you already had Yahoo Groups – but they wasn't nearly as good. So people kept using eGroups – it had much better features like embedded thumbnails of pictures in the mail – so a user didn't have to download a whole picture if they didn't want it – and nothing was deleted, everything was properly archived on the web – so anyone could go away for a while and still be able to catch up later. You bought the company and then rather than keep all the features that was good about them you systematically stripped them away. eGroups was effectively turned into Yahoo Groups – but you already had that – so why then...? oh wait – of course, maybe you couldn't stand the competition. Furthermore, two of the things that came to be a big bugbear for me was – picture attachments where no longer stored online within the groups message archives – to get pictures you had (and still have) to have messages delivered to an email address – on a busy group that could be dozens a day – you couldn't pick and choose from thumbnails what you wanted to see any more – it was all or nothing. Then you plastered MASSIVE (and totally) inane banner adverts within all of those individual emails. [I'm still haunted by the memory of having seen hundreds of yahoo dating site adverts – *vomit* yahoo dating - where did that come from?) It was really just a legit form of spam. Of course this meant you couldn't really use a yahoo mail account for yahoo groups – especially not with all the bloated spammy adverts and or with any picture attachments – you'd easily run over your allotted meagre quota within a day or two... so you'd have to have a proper email account somewhere – which meant – oh yes – you didn't really need that yahoo mail account... whooops! No one thought it through did they? "Using yahoo groups alongside yahoo mail - why, whoever would have thought of such a thing ever happening? It's not as if they're from the same company or anything. -Oh wait..."

Yahoo ID
Which is – I'm guessing – around the time the invention of the annoying YahooID thingy came to be – we know it's there primarily to keep track of everyone and what they look at on the interwebs – all mainly so Yahoo can sell all that eyeball and mouse-click info on to third parties. That's just tacky and altogether a bit too Big Brother-ish for my liking. Hiding an opt-out clause deep within pages of lawyer-speak doesn't endear me to you either.

I've been lucky not to forget my yahooID and password because apparently the procedure to try and get so much as a password reminder is a nightmare of labyrinthine legalese-ridden form filling. Which brings me onto another big sucky thing about yahoo – it is deeply steeped in legalese which it often uses as a shield to hide behind. Whenever a person has a genuine grievance they have to go through weeks if not months of on-line form filling only to be ignored for a while longer before they get a response – if they get a response. I don't know if humans even work in that part of Yahoo. I suspect it's just servers packed with programs that spout random legal jargon - specifically designed to fob humans off.

Yahoo the home page and web portal.
Over the years the Yahoo corporation has grown and grown (or is that -groan and groan?) – and that front page got ever more and more and more things plastered over it – yahoo does so much now (well, you either copy -badly, things far better done elsewhere, or else buy up other web companies – and trash them). It's painfully obvious that you've long been trying to be something like AOL – a walled garden – a complete one-stop shop for everyone's internet needs... all to draw in the less savvy newbie internet user (like AOL used to (or still does as far as I know)) But what it means in reality is that you've spread itself out so thinly and become very much a Jack-of-all-trades but master of none.

Because that front pages hs always been so cluttered and so jam packed full of stuff and with your insistence on drawing lots and lots of boxes and having lines around -everything the whole mess is reminiscent of one of those free weekly local newsheets that get pushed through people's doors only to be tossed – unread - straight into the recycling bin.

Here's some free market research for your information Yahoo: When I want to read news – I go straight to a newspaper website, when I want to know train times – I go straight to a train timetable site, when I want to search for something I use the google search bar - or the clean minimalist google page - see the pattern emerging here? When I want something specific I never go to a page where there's hundreds of little bits and bobs of every and anything else amid loads of advertising – in fact I go out of my way to avoid advertising. I have no use for it. Most people don't.

Bizarrely you've now tried to address this 'too much' stuff problem on the newly redesigned homepage – but adding in these roll-out pop-out mini-pages... what that really means is that for an unsuspecting new reader hovering over almost any part of the page it results in a giant sudden pop out mini-page covering up everything else. Urgh. Worst is the new nagging pop up boxes urging you to 'personalize' your homepage with – stuff. Stuff from yahoo, and now extra stuff is available from all manner of other places. Much like you've be able to with iGoogle for years now – (which is another page I already don't bother myself with either). So since I already don't feel the need to have a all-in-one homepage portal – all this being constantly nagged and reminded to have one – I'm finding more than a bit of an intrusion. But yahoo has always had a long love of having those pop ups that cover up a whole page – indeed you used to have massive animated flash adverts that did that (I don't know if they still do – I could never find the 'close x' fast enough - and I've been using adblock for firefox for so long now). But it's a sad fact of life that many advertisers have managed to confuse 'being in-your-face-and-irritating' with 'attention-getting' that they haven't yet twigged that all this might engender a counter-productive and deeply ingrained hostility to the very brands they're supposedly promoting.

Indeed very much like how you've taken it upon yourselves to uglify the Flickr logo with a tacky new 'from Yahoo' addition. Tampering with flickr in any way is always, always an unwise move (they have forums you know, it's a community based website - not just a place for people to store and how off their photos) - but there you go - Yahoo, you obviously just can't help yourself.

Apparently we're soon to be subjected to a whole new marketing campaign from Yahoo! and see a whole new 'radical' make-over. I mean I can't help thinking some of that $100 million might have been better spent on making any number of Yahoo services a lot less sucky, and that Yahoo! becoming a shade more graceful and a whole lot less in-your-face might do them more good. But it looks like that is most definitely not on the cards... Instead I'm guessing we're gonna get bombarded with the usual stock images of shiny happy people with dumb slogans telling us how they are so euphorically, dementedly blissed out simply because they use Yahoo for some aspect of their internet usage.


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