Twelve Weeks of Neo

Owl Christmas 2b

On the First Day of Neo,
My Yahoo “launched” to me
Their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Second Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Third Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Fourth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Fifth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Sixth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Seventh Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Seven new updates that still don’t work,
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Eighth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Eight more weeks of ignoring user feedback,
Seven new updates that still don’t work,
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Ninth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Nine plus ninety-nine advertisements in my group pages,
Eight more pages of ignored user feedback,
Seven new updates that still don’t work,
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Tenth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Ten hours of Classic Groups before taking my Firefox plug-in away,
Nine plus ninety-nine advertisements in my group pages,
Eight more pages of ignored user feedback,
Seven new updates that still don’t work,
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Eleventh Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Eleven responses that there was no way to change back to Classic,
Ten hours of Classic Groups before taking my Firefox plug-in away,
Nine plus ninety-nine advertisements in my group pages,
Eight more pages of ignored user feedback,
Seven new updates that still don’t work,
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

On the Twelfth Week of Neo,
My Yahoo sent to me
Twelve weeks of heartache and forced closures of my groups,
Eleven responses that there was no way to change back to Classic,
Ten hours of Classic Groups before taking my Firefox plug-in away,
Nine plus ninety-nine advertisements in my group pages,
Eight more weeks of ignoring user feedback,
Seven new updates that still don’t work,
Six thousand messages on one page,
Five days of not getting into my groups so I can’t moderate,
Four technical support representatives who knew not what to do,
Three reassurances of things getting better,
Two major headaches,
And their first update for a great new group that wasn’t going to be.

(Hey, how come everyone’s not singing?  Aren’t you all happy ???)

D. L. Smith

IT MAKES ME SICK…

strsshoot

Some people that have been using Yahoo Groups for years without issue have reported various heath issues isnce Yahoo began rolling out Neo; in a recent update to the terms of service, Yahoo gave a response that chills me to the bone:

e. A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF USERS MAY EXPERIENCE EPILEPTIC SEIZURES WHEN EXPOSED TO CERTAIN LIGHT PATTERNS OR BACKGROUNDS ON A COMPUTER SCREEN OR WHILE USING THE YAHOO SERVICE. CERTAIN CONDITIONS MAY INDUCE PREVIOUSLY UNDETECTED EPILEPTIC SYMPTOMS EVEN IN USERS WHO HAVE NO HISTORY OF PRIOR SEIZURES OR EPILEPSY. IF YOU, OR ANYONE IN YOUR FAMILY, HAVE AN EPILEPTIC CONDITION, CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN PRIOR TO USING THE YAHOO SERVICE. IMMEDIATELY DISCONTINUE USE OF THE YAHOO SERVICES AND CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS WHILE USING THE YAHOO SERVICE: DIZZINESS, ALTERED VISION, EYE OR MUSCLE TWITCHES, LOSS OF AWARENESS, DISORIENTATION, ANY INVOLUNTARY MOVEMENT, OR CONVULSIONS.

The reason this paragraph gives me chills is that it is simply Yahoo’s way of say that if the movement of ads and other on-screen elements of the site make you sick, you shouldn’t expect Yahoo to do something about it, but should instead cease using their service, even though it is their service and the ads or other on-screen elements THAT THEY PUT THERE that are the cause. It also give me chills because I know that there are caring developers out there that will move heaven and earth (figuratively speaking) to please their users.

I used to play the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game City of Heroes, and while I was a very active participant in the game and on the forums, I read of certain game visual effects that cause players with certain medical conditions to experience illness when exposed to them. I also read with interest of the efforts by the game development team to find suitable substitutes that could fit with the specific abilities thematically, while not causing the health issues; it took time, and a rearrangement of the development team, but eventually both the developers and players were happy with the outcome.

Yahoo know about this situation that they have created, they know they can do something about it, and we, the users, both those affected and those not, know they  know, but will they be adult enough to admit they have created it and have an obligation to us to fix it? Or will they hide behind the few lines of text I quoted above, the very same lines that are printed in every video game manual that I have ever seen in the 15+ years I have been using computers, which Cryptic Studios and Paragon Studios could have done, but instead did something about it?

It doesn’t have to be this way…

CuriousSince August 4th the Groups team has broken the daily habit of millions of Groups users, and thereby damaged Yahoo! Groups as a product, and diminished Yahoo! as a brand.

Yes, strong words. But before you dismiss that as mere rhetoric, or the ravings of a disgruntled user, consider the timeline of dysfunction that is associated with the so-called “Neo” roll-out. There are plenty of resources to learn just how dysfunctional Neo has been, here I’ll just hit a few of the highlights.

  • Aug 4th to Aug 26th – Members of plain-text groups (those that exclude attachments) could not use the Groups Message Poster – it produced only text/HTML message bodies which were incompatible with that setting.
  • Aug 26th to Sep 9th – Members of plain-text groups suffer through incomprehensible postings from the Groups Message Poster – it continues to make HTML message bodies, but marks them as text/plain.
  • Aug 4th to Sep 13th – Moderators could not edit pending messages before approval.

Oct 21st – we have had eleven weeks of the roll-out, and still Neo is missing significant functionality that is present in the classic interface: (Updates as of Nov 18th)

  • Moderators cannot return pending posts to members with a rejection notice.
  • Moderators cannot edit a pending post and save the edits for further review.
  • Some messages pending moderation cause an error on Approve or Approve with reply.
  • Some messages pending moderation have invisible content which may show when posted.
  • In the pending list, using Reject with reply,  choosing << (plain text) will convert < and > characters to HTML character entities &lt; and &gt; respectively.
  • In the pending list there is no << (plain text) option in Approve with reply.
  • In the pending list neither the member’s email address nor the pending message number is shown.
  • Moderators cannot reply to pending members.
  • The pending message list operates unreliably. It fails to show some messages, badly formats most messages, and too often yields an error when approving a message after editing.
  • Messages pile up in the Spam area, and can neither be deleted or approved. Incomprehensibly, Spam is shown under Conversations, when it belongs in the Pending Approvals management section, and is lacking the ability to edit the message before approval or to return it to sender. The pending message queue lacks a capability to designate a message as spam.  The Spam filter can’t even be turned off to avoid the problem.
  • Groups cannot choose to exclude HTML message bodies.
  • Groups cannot use more than basic text formatting in their descriptions — no links, no images, even though the composition box carries the legend “Text or HTML”.
  • Many groups still have arbitrary stock photos as their cover images, even though it would be trivial for Yahoo to carry over their classic photos (just scale them to height instead of width).
  • The Group Activity Logs do not record certain moderator activity, such as approving messages, but are incomplete (lacking member email, and lacking message number if approved by web).
  • The Group Activity Logs cannot be searched.
  • Files and Folders which contain an apostrophe or hyphen in the name cannot be accessed.
  • User Aliases are not respected on all pages.
  • The Database functionality is crippled.

All of this could have been tolerable, if Neo had been rolled out as an opt-in test. Instead, starting about August 4th, Yahoo began choosing arbitrary users to put into the “test” — and customer care first said that they couldn’t talk about possible product changes, then later told users that it is a test but they can’t opt out or be taken out of the test. Then, after weeks of confusion and anxiety on users’ part, Yahoo finally made an announcement on August 29th using their brand-new Tumblr blog — but they didn’t reference that announcement in their “classic” blog, nor in the Moderator Central group. One thing changed with that announcement: Neo was no longer referred to as a test, it was now in roll-out. But still an involuntary one.

When pressed for a reason that users couldn’t be allowed to Opt in or out until the problems in Neo are fixed, Yahoo had this to say:

“it doesn’t work that way unfortunately. The old platform is just about to fall apart. It’s new Groups or no Groups at this point.
— Jeff Bonforte, Senior VP of Communications at Yahoo!, Twitter 2013-09-30

As a statement of product life cycle planning I do somewhat agree with this — the “classic” interface is old and in need of a refresh. But as a statement in the here and now it is manifestly untrue. It was untrue on August 4th, and will remain untrue for the foreseeable future.  The classic platform hasn’t collapsed, and likely won’t until the day Yahoo decides to shut it down.

Telling your user community something that they know to be untrue based on their own daily experience isn’t a clever way to garner support  for your new product development. Particularly not when it comes on the heels of months of dysfunction and poor communication with the new product. In point of fact there is no technical reason that the Tool menu (gear icon in the upper right corner of every page) couldn’t have a “Switch to Neo” when in classic, and “Switch to classic” when in Neo. Just like Yahoo Mail lets users switch between the Fully Featured and Basic interfaces. The only impediment to such an option is Yahoo’s stubborness on the question.

I’m not saying this is something that Yahoo needs to support forever (nor even to the next major rollout). But it is a sensible remediation until such time as Neo can be brought up to feature-complete (compared to classic groups) and its significant flaws can be ironed out. Yes, there will be some that will always prefer the classic interface, but Yahoo really needs to get the Feedback down to a dull roar before it pulls the plug on the classic interface.

Yahoo has a lot of fence-mending to do with the user community. I hope they choose to take this one step in the right direction.

Notes: For an abundance of detail, see the Feedback forum, the Yahoo Groups about Groups, or Mods & Members. For a more concise summary there are also the pages about Yahoo Groups Neo on my wiki, YahooGroupedia.

Groups of Many Colors

coloredowl

This song is a tribute of sorts to the temporarily missing Yahoo Groups Classic interface; I say temporarily missing because I believe that Yahoo will realize that Neo is, and has been since the beginning, a waste of development time and will restore Classic in some form to us. I wrote most of the song in a few hours’ time while at work, though part of it simply would not come to me, and I finally asked Nightowl for some advice on how to complete the song; I thank her for the wording she suggested and have tried to keep everything correct. The tune I wrote it for is the Dolly Parton classic, “Coat of Many Colors.”

Back through the years
I go wandering once again,
Back to the seasons of Yahoo!
I recall the Clubs and Groups that they gave us
And how Owners put those Groups to use.
There were Groups of many colors
and they started small,
But there were no problems then
Cause Yahoo! loved them all.
We gathered all together
to build our homes with love,
And our groups of many colors
that we were so proud of.

One morning when I woke up,
I found my group had changed
Gone were the many colors
I’d so carefully arranged.
My Group it lay in ruins;
It destroyed my happiness,
And my heart just sank to see it
Cause it was quite a mess.

The Groups of Many Colors
that neo took away from me
Made only with love
and we gave it so gladly.
Although we made no money,
we were happy as can be
With our groups of many colors
that neo took away from me.

With a great deal of frustration
and determined fortitude,
For my groups of many colors
I headed for the great Yahoo
And found many more like me complaining
to them “uselessly”
about the groups of many colors
neo took away from me.
Yahoo couldn’t understand
why I was being such a stick
Although I told of all the love
in every single click.
I sadly read the stories of groups
and why they closed
And how our groups of many colors
were worth more than “cold neo.”

They couldn’t understand
though we try to make them see,
Yahoo will be poor
if all Group users leave.
Although we make no money,
we’re happy as can be
With our groups of many colors
that neo took away from me.
Yes, we’re all “me.”

“NEO” SPELLS DISRESPECT FOR VETERANS

military_owl2

There was an incident on September 30th, 2013, that really got my attention. Down in the Feedback Trench, there was a post from a moderator explaining how his group was offended by the Word NEO and how they had all quit over it.

The reason this group was offended by the word was because the group contained a number of WWII veterans and families and children of those veterans. Some of them were even French. To that group of people and, to be honest, to most of the world, the word Neo to them meant Neo as in Neo Nazi.

I went down to the trench when I learned of the group owner’s dilemna; there was no one left to help him archive it, so I offered our help as I have done with many group owners before.

Then it sparked a conversation on Twitter that I like to call “The Great Twitter Debate” between my “Point Man” Tyger_Bryte; Yahoo’s Senior Vice President Of Communications, Jeff Bonforte; and another tweeter called Hindo Urro.

You can read it for yourself at:
https://twitter.com/bonforte
Go To September 30th and click “View Conversations.”

Or you can read a copy saved to file here:
http://w8ten.no-ip.org/documents/

The upshot was that two people tried to explain to Mr Bonforte that NEO was an insulting word to many people who had suffered, or whose families had suffered, in WWII under the Nazi regime. But the SVP was unapologetic, instead offering up newer references to the word from the Matrix, etc. He couldn’t understand why an entire group would quit over this word. But I do, and here is their story.

********************************
BetterMind&Body commented · September 30, 2013 1:52 am
We had been a successful group with over 4800 hundred members and more than half that read the group at the group. We have been forced to start the removing process because we will NOT stay in this stupid design or the flaky way it looks! Also a lot of my members are French and some even having relatives who survived WWII and have lived in France for decades afterward, and every person who knows the French language as their second or even third language knows the term “Neo” means Neo Nazi. They were a group that started in Europe some years after WWII and none of those memories are pleasant AT ALL. This Neo redirect is horrendous on the very level it is a slap in the face of those who see the word for the only way they can take it as. It’s offensive and demeaning as just the term “neo” and what it means to them! Meanwhile the whole format (if you can call it that) is very off-putting and rather childish looking. Everything literally is being squeezed into a small, back-breaking, neck-aching bottom of the screen little box, while everything else has been ran over with this utterly ugly look.

Yahoo you have lost another 4800 members. 4817 to be exact. NO ONE from my group even wanted to look at it after seeing it. They haven’t even been back on. It was abandoned with its first appearance. This isn’t us disliking a change, this is us being abused by your short-sightedness and obviously lack of consideration and total lack of humanity.
********************************
I couldn’t agree more with his last sentence.

For Yahoo to have been this insensitive to how people feel and to not have even considered the impact such a term could have on people, let alone the fact that no apology was given when the SVP was confronted about it, they truly must be either heartless or clueless. You decide.

Nightowl >8#
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/modsandmembers/message/5439

NO SUPPORT FOR OLDER SYSTEMS

The following post comes to us from Dean in Canada.  He has asked us to share this with you.

strsshoot

I live in Montreal, Quebec and I am an Anglophone-only person living in a society that goes to great lengths to ban the use of English and use only French.  Due to being totally tone deaf and over 50, learning a new language was not really possible due to stress. I am also battling depression, plus dealing with chronic pain in my upper back and neck from a bad fall a few years back. Yahoo and the groups I am on for a couple of my hobbies help me feel connected to world because the groups are in English.  This connection gave me a reason to get up many days when, with the pain and being depressed, I would rather have stayed in the bed.

A year ago I started chatting with someone who was very knowledgeable about a certain make of sewing machine I liked.  I asked him why he did not open a group for this brand of sewing machine.  He replied he was not good enough with the computer to set up a group.  However if I wanted to start a group he would be happy to share his knowledge.  Since I have been using computers since back in the days of DOS, I set about opening a group.  While the group is not large (about 50 members), it was fairly active and something I enjoyed.  Same with my other groups for sewing machines and the groups for vintage kitchen mixers, percolators, and some other groups for certain appliances.

On Fri. August 23, 2013 my world came crashing down, as it was about 1:10PM when I was NEOized.  I know the time as shortly before 1PM I was on a group home-page to post to the group and check something in the files.  I thought at first something was messing up in my computer.  I posted a message asking if Yahoo was acting up on the mixer group or if it was my computer.  I had a message minutes later that it must be my computer as she went to groups home page and things were fine.  I started doing all the things I could think of to check what was happening to my MacBook.  A hour or so later I got a message from the owner of the mixer group saying it was not me; he was having the same issues.  Shortly thereafter the owner of the first sewing machine group I joined messaged saying she was having issues and anyone who had “NEO” in the address of the group was having issues and those who showed the address without “NEO” were fine.

I tried contacting Yahoo the first of the following week since nothing improved over the weekend.  It took several times before I was able to get someone to return a call.  That lady was nice, listened to what I told her, made note that I was using a Mac and what OS I was running, and assured me that Yahoo cared and would work with me to correct the issues.  I got an email back outlining what we had talked about and that the Yahoo team would help me solve the issues.

Well, I started getting emails telling me to install and run certain things.  I was told to upgrade the version of Safari and Firefox I was running and it would be better still to install and run Goggle Chrome.  Well, if they were as computer savvy as they made out to be, they would have known that on a Mac your browser is tied to your OS.  I was running the newest versions of Safari and Firefox that would run on my OS Tiger.  As for Google Chrome, it was never made to run on Tiger.  However, installing and running the other things that were suggested, I lost the ability to get into my groups at all.  I could not even approve new members for my group or ones that I moderate on.  I could not get past the home page as it would never finish loading, so no going into files, photos, or links for me.

I emailed Yahoo giving them the specs for my computer and browsers again and saying their canned replies did not work on my system.  I waited several days and nothing, so I sent another email with the same information.  I had a reply in less than 3 minutes saying they had provided me all the information needed to solve the issues I was having.   Since I did not follow their directions they had closed the case and not to email them again.  Well, back on the phone again, and after being hung up on a few times, I finally got someone from groups and she told me that NEO was not designed to run on older systems, be it Mac or PC – that there were too few who used older systems and it was not worth the cost to make NEO work on them and that there was no reason for anyone to have an older computer these days as the cost of computers is so affordable.

As you may have guessed, all this has left me very depressed, which in turn makes the chronic pain worse.

Dean

WORKING TO SAVE YAHOO! GROUPS

computer_owl

Behind all the broken groups and despairing users lies a quiet story of dogged determination to make Yahoo! Groups work once again. It is driven by care and respect for the massive repository of information contained within the roughly ten million Yahoo! Groups and for the many millions of Users for whom Yahoo! Groups are a lifeline under threat.

At Yahoo! there is a team collecting and ranking individual User Feedback while, out in the Yahoo! Community, expert Users are collating a Status Report on how the product performs in use.

The official Feedback Forum allows individual Users to make suggestions and other users to Vote and Comment on each one. Meanwhile Yahoo! staff consider each Suggestion, make comments of their own, and show its current Status within Yahoo!’s development team.

The list is currently 153 webpages long, which is comprehensive but unwieldy.

Fortunately the community Status Report gives a succinct summary in just two web pages. It sets out sober facts under non-emotive headings: what has happened, how to cope, what’s different, and what still needs doing.

If you are struggling with Neo, this is the place to start looking for information. We hope that it is helping Yahoo!, too.

Find the official Yahoo! Groups Feedback Forum at:
http://yahoo.uservoice.com/forums/209451-us-groups

Find the community Yahoo! Groups Neo Status Report at:
http://tinyurl.com/nltqkmn

David Halfpenny