Yahoo, you are dead to me.
Yea, I know. Quite the dramatic title. Work with me for a sec.
I’m pissed. Really pissed. Advance warning: I will rant now.
I forget the exact year but in the early 90s (I think 1993 or 94), I signed up for a novel service. Online email. Remember this is the early 90s. I was an early adopter even back then.
The internet was mostly character based and mostly used by universities, some larger companies and government. People using the internet were using email, usenet and ftp (and some crazies were using veronica, jughead, archie and gopher). Tim Berners-Lee didn’t even invent (create?, coin-the-phrase, whatever) the World Wide Web (www) until 89-90ish.
I was using Compuserve (not the netscape-compurserve crap, a closed environment like AOL was later) as my ISP and I was paying by the hour. I had been using something called the NCSA Mosaic browser (and the nasty compuserve browser when I had to). Mosaic was later replaced with Netscape Navigator but if I remember right, in 1993, Mosaic was pretty much it.
So now that I set the stage, I will get back on track. Way back then, I signed up for this new, web based, email system. It was called ROCKETMAIL.com. Pretty limited inbox, not a bunch of bells and whistles, but it rocked. I loved it. Others came after, but rocketmail led.
In the later 90s, Yahoo.com purchased rocketmail.com. They enhanced it and added new features. They also made new users signup for a yahoo.com account but rocketmail.com users got to keep the domain.
At some point, they gave me a yahoo.com account that connected to the same rocketmail account (same inbox, contacts, etc but different email address). That was nice and I used it in a few places but after a decade of handing out firstname.lastname@example.org to friends, family and associates, I kept to it.
Sometime after yahoo acquired rocketmail, they asked for a yearly fee to keep it afloat. I think it is now called Yahoo Plus. In exchange for paying it, you can also get larger attachments, no ads, etc. I decided to pay for it. For the last decade, I have been one of the very few paying customers on yahoo email.
I didn’t mind paying. I have “paid” for free games. If it’s worth my time, I don’t mind donating. I have also donated to open source, both time and money. Again, if I find value in it, why not.
Let’s jump forward to 2010. Just this month. I forwarded an email to my wife and cc’ed myself (it was from a totally different email service). My wife got hers but mine bounced. Said my email account didn’t exist. I tried again and then I tried from my blackberry. Account does not exist.
I logged into yahoo using my rocketmail login ID. That worked. I sent myself an email, from my blackberry, to the yahoo domain account, that worked. I tried to send myself an email, using yahoo email, from the yahoo domain to the rocketmail domain (which is also on yahoo servers). It wouldn’t even let me send it. Said the email account was invalid.
I alternated between “WTF!” and “Yikes”.
I contacted yahoo support. Turns out that this is a known issue “that is being worked”. I have found instances of this happening (using google search as it is a better search engine) to rocketmail.com email users, as far back as 2008.
I asked for an ETA on a fix. “Sorry, can’t give you one.” Asked for a URL for status updates, “See the yahoo mail blog.” They did give me a ticket number: 3644603. And that was it. Nothing. Several days later, still doesn’t work. Pretty much a great big FU from yahoo.
Glitches happen. I work in software. I get that. A glitch from 2008 still affecting customers? Not so much. Completely losing an email address? From an email provider? Not so much.
After the stuff I found online, I’m pretty sure yahoo is NOT working on it and does not intend to. I mean, what percentage of yahoo users are on rocketmail? What percentage of those users are having issues? Looking at all of the issues yahoo is facing, do you think they would expend time, effort or money to fix it?
The sad fact is that yahoo has been in decline for a long time. Buggy software, churn in features/products. Playing catch up with everyone (facebook, twitter, microsoft, google). They apparently no longer have what it takes to cut it in the 21st century.
Yahoo is the new AOL. Or new Mosaic. Or new Netscape. They are in good company. We can look back on all of these for amazing things they did. AOL managed to grow into a truly mammoth beast on little more than spit, wire and a bunch of CDs. Yahoo was THE portal and email for a long time.
Yahoo is old news. They won’t be a better facebook than facebook. They won’t be a better twitter than twitter. Google has already passed them in search. The days of the huge portals is over, replaced by smaller niche sites and/or news sites and/or social sites. The customer support is fairly non-existant (not that google is any better at that).
All yahoo had left was email. That’s on the way out the door. I guess I won’t let it hit me on the ass on they way out.
If you would like to email me, my new address is lewis cunningham (no space between the words) at acm dot org.
I need to go update all of my various online accounts now. Any my family and friends. And my business contacts. And email newsletters. And who knows who else.
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