THE TREASURE OF OUR CLASSIC GROUPS

snowowl

I am Nightowl >8#  aka @FeatheredLeader

I’m the owner of the Mods and Members Yahoo Group that was involved in stopping the 2010 Remodel of our Classic Groups.

You may have heard that Yahoo has now changed our beloved groups into the chaos that they call Neo.  This is far worse than in 2010.

In 2010, we had warning. We had notice and time to rescue data “in case” We were better able to cope when the change happened, but it still failed to function for most Classic Groups. You see, Yahoo just doesn’t get what a treasure that they had with that feature.

Our Classic Groups were created with love, customized, and maintained, some for many, many years. They were so much more than social networks. In fact, they were, in many cases, our homes or our special places, and they served such a diverse group of people by having so many different ways they could be used.

Yes, they were so much more than places to get together and chat. There were the education sites, where people tutored one another, teachers exchanged, and students did homework together.

There were the support sites, for everything from Alzheimers to suicide – places where people depended on one another to stay calm, sane, and healthy. Many bedridden people were able to access the outside world only through their support groups.

There were medical sites where people exchanged health information and doctors communicated directly with homebound patients. Nurses could click and have the information for the doctors just like that.

There were military sites and veteran’s sites – places where veterans of all wars could stay in touch with each other, communicate, and share stories and history. Archives of messages and photos created a timeline back to their past.

There were the memorial sites set up for loved ones who had died or where the owner died and someone inherited the group and maintained it to preserve their memory. I am actually a member of such a site; we lost our owner, but the site lived on.

There were research sites where scientific communities worked, shared ideas, and brainstormed. They used the tools there to assist them: data bases, files, and links. They compiled data and created huge archives of  information.

There were genealogy sites with links to the past for so many families, and there were family sites where relatives could stay in touch. There was a calendar tool they could use for birthdays and other events. They could share photos, memories, and love.

There were the skilled craft sites covering a wide range  of everything  from egg art to quilting. They shared their techniques, their crafts, and their photos. They had events, shows, and workshops.

There were the hobbyists from automobile clubs to shortwave radio enthusiasts – a place to get together and enjoy something they all cared about, making friends in the process.

There were the entertainment and movie groups for everything from Animal House to Star Wars. People could keep their favorite movies alive there forever. My favorite movie is James Cameron’s Titanic. 😉

There were the sports groups where people followed their favorite teams whether they were the NHL Anaheim Ducks or the New York Yankees! Personally, I’m a hockey owl. My favorite teams are the Penguins, Sharks, Ducks, Coyotes, and Blues!

There were the various music groups from jazz to rock and roll, both about playing it and about listening to it. Church choir groups and rock band groups all had a place to come and share info.

There were the technical and computer groups that offered free tech support to anyone who needed it, learning, growing, and upgrading together.

There were the service groups from adoptees’ parent searches to veterans’ assistance. They played a role as people used them, bringing people together and finding them help in their various quests.

There were animal and pet groups for everything from dogs to turtles – groups where veterinarians gave advice online and people learned how to care for pets or helped rescue dogs get adopted.

I could go on and on and on, and I would have to in order to truly show the world exactly what these Classic Groups really were and what they meant to us. Classic Groups were not just a type of social network. They were whole communities, each with its own purpose.

So why do I say, “they WERE?”

Because, like a thief in the night, Yahoo’s Neo came and destroyed them. The broken, buggy interface called Neo was sprung upon unsuspecting users with no warning, no notice. This time we didn’t have a chance. Everything was instant chaos.

The first wave happened overnight, and the next morning users discovered the devastation. Home page photos and decor were gone, replaced by canned pictures, some actually offensive to the groups where they were displayed. Messages were now in a long endless scrolling stream. Moderation tools were hidden and even when found, didn’t work.  Colors so lovingly created and custom pages were all reduced to gray writing on white with glaring purple edges.

In a flash, some users lost everything. Archives were decimated or unreachable. Photos were removed from albums that were now in complete disarray. Even some whole groups were completely missing. Links were broken, databases didn’t function, and moderation was even a failure in many cases. Some personal and private information was even accidentally made public to 19,000 users in the Freecycle groups.

It was as if someone had come and set fire to our “homes” and watched them burn as we scrambled out…then bulldozed the remains flat. Worst of all, though, was the impact it had on the disabled and elderly.

Disabled users discovered that they couldn’t stop the glaring, flashing ads now being displayed on the pages. They began to have seizures, headaches, and vertigo. Those with sight problems found that their screen readers and tools didn’t work with the Neo interface.

Those with motor skill deficiencies, especially in their hands, found they could not manage the “manic mouse shuffle,” as many called it, to click on things. They also found that they couldn’t tolerate the endless scrolling, and the voice programs some used also failed to work.

To give an example of that, there was one group that had 150,000 messages, and since we could no longer page back a page at a time, they had to scroll endlessly to get to them since at first, all new posts in many groups were appearing at the bottom.

The elderly found they also couldn’t use it. They were suddenly cut off from the outside world, unable to communicate with their WWI groups, their bridge groups, or their families.  Many experienced confusion, depression, and high blood pressure.

Neo was sleek, yes; it was new, yes. But it never had a chance to replace Classic.  It simply doesn’t function in the ways most groups need.

Users have been cut off from their support groups, their friends, their families, and in some cases (such as the bedridden),  their connection to the outside world because although it was made to work on mobile devices, it doesn’t. It’s a failure.

Thousands and thousands of complaints and pleas to return to Classic Groups and let us rescue out archives and our memories have been largely ignored by Yahoo. Canned replies of “We care” or “We’re working on it” are all we get. No one in the Groups community believes they care. I don’t believe it anymore.

But “I” care. And when I went to the uservoice Feedback area, a place I like to call the “Feedback Trench,” on August 31, 2013, and saw the despondency, the sorrow, the heartbreak and confusion, and the chaos Neo had caused millions of loyal users, I felt their pain. I felt their heartbreak, and I vowed to help them.

So here we are again: a new CEO, a new Interface, and a new Crusade. And I intend to see it through, because if we allow Yahoo to get away with such cruel and disrespectful treatment of people, including the disabled and elderly, other companies will do the same.

We deserve respect. We deserve accommodation. We deserve our groups back. We certainly do not deserve this.

And I’m going to fight until we win or until every last Groups user flees the sinking Yatanic for safer shores.

Nightowl >8#

If you would like to see the documentation for this post, send me an e-mail at owlsy@yahoo.com and I’ll provide the links to you.

And anyone may repost this anywhere they choose.

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9 thoughts on “THE TREASURE OF OUR CLASSIC GROUPS

  1. Why are we all meeting here ? This from me, to the only group I could contact on August 28 2013 ( the day I was ‘neod’ ) …

    Dear Members All,
    You are the last and only group I can contact at this point in time, as, alas, I have been forcibly opted into the yahoo groups “neo” test.
    This means that I no longer have any access to any group that I wasn’t already receiving direct email from 😦
    To those of you already inflicted – commiserations
    To those of you yet to have this pestilence inflicted – good luck.
    To Simon and the moderators – Be Warned !!! ….
    if you are ‘chosen’ to be neo-fied, you will lose most or all ability to operate your group …
    and that goes for all other members who are owners or moderators of other groups.
    To date, Yahoo show no intention of undoing this catastrophe they have inflicted on a random sample of users …
    if I could offer you some method of protection against it , be sure I would … but for now, it seems to be a fait accomplis.
    Pete

    And since that email was sent, I discovered modsandmembers, the Firefox plug-in, and a great group of people wanting only to keep Yahoo honest and Groups working. My own little contribution to the cause is to trawl through Yahoo Answers, looking to point people who are floundering under the burden of neo to this little island of sanity and strength ( oh yes – and placing votes where I think they are needed at uservoice ).

    Thank you Owl, and all the team.

  2. Excellent & passionate plea re all that WAS Classic YGs! Classic was like a long-time dearly beloved Friend that died unexpectedly, only to be resurrected as the Devil incarnate! What a shock & a horror!

    And thank you for causing Yahoo to RETREAT back in 2010! We should have seen the handwriting on the wall then. They were just as cruel then. > I was on their email list for that Yahoo Tech Team that was taking input from YG users re that remake attempt. Being a person who only does things in spurts (due to disability), I rested up for a few days so I could devote one full day to providing as much feedback to specific posts as possible, & ONLY re things that I personally was affected by (ie, Experienced!)

    So I would submit a sentence or two, or a paragraph, in Reply-mode via email, to specific prior posts/comments/ideas from others &/or from the Yahoo Tech Team, & I included in my signature my YG link & that I had been using YGs since 2001. (I thought that might mean something to them. Not!)

    Because I did all that in a 1-day “spurt,” the Yahoo Tech Team replied ONCE & accused me of SPAMMING! OMG I was so mad I could have spit nails; insulted, too, since I was offering bona fide input as a 9-years-long YG user/owner! And obviously they didn’t even READ my feedback or they would have seen it was not spam! Since when is sending multiple emails — each in “reply” to a DIFFERENT subject — to a YG *EMAIL* list considered spam? Grrr!

    I wrote them back 1-chastising reply & asked if they were teenagers who could not read? And were they not aware how administrators & executives, who know better, always “work smart” by organizing their workload first in order to work more efficiently to make the best use of their time? And that their CEO, Carol Bartz (at the time), no doubt worked in a similar fashion by setting aside specific days or time periods to tackle ONE thing, ie, “correspondence”? Etc etc. Of course they never replied, & I quit that group el pronto as I surely was not going to waste precious energy & time giving feedback to idiots who couldn’t even handle reading emails. Grrr. Total turn off to whoever works behind the scenes in “tech” at Yahoo! Then & Now!

    (And, By the way, I’m in “spurt mode” tonight as you can see, now that I found this blog & saved the RSS feeds/links in an RSS-iphone app, trying to catch up on what has been happening w/YGs!)

    Thanks again for being on the frontlines & all the obvious hard work you’ve put into it as evidenced by this blog & the YG site!

    • You are welcome, TPR. Are you in our Mods & Members Group? I was wondering. You can join it here: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/modsandmembers/conversations/messages

      I contacted Garry Tan via Twitter, we’ll see what happens with that.

      I haven’t been on the ball with the Crusade as much as I’ve been in the past in the last few months, had family crisises and now having a work issue I’m having to defend. But I am trying to make a huge push forward with the Crusade in July, because August 4th will mark 1 year since NEO was inflicted upon us.

      I allowed most of your comments, I need my editor to check out the others, not sure about certain words and concepts. Hope you understand.

      Brenda
      Nightowl >8#

  3. THIS > “…there was one group that had 150,000 messages, and since we could no longer page back a page at a time, they had to scroll endlessly to get to them…”

    That is another perfect example of techie engineers who create IMPRACTICAL software that people hate in actual usage! (WP blogs have “Endless Scrolling,” too, but at least they allow you to turn it OFF if you don’t want it!)

    I guess the engineers never use their own not-well-thought-out inventions!
    Gary Tan (PostHaven.com, previously mentioned by me in another comment at this blog) wrote an article re that VERY thing which I only saw just yesterday. It was excellent & I will get the link & post it here. G.Tan is a software engineer himself, but one with more insight obviously than most.

  4. Re: THIS > “Disabled users discovered that they couldn’t stop the glaring, flashing ads now being displayed on the pages. They began to have seizures, headaches, and vertigo…”

    As a comparison, Apple did very similar with their “entirely new remake” of iphone’s iOS (#7) released last Sept./Oct. (similar timing to YG Neo-disaster – a “conspiracy”? 😉

    Apple changed the UI to a glaring blinding white, & with flashing moving “parallex” that was making people nauseous just looking at their phones, & some folks were having headaches, dizziness & vertigo from it!

    (WHO INVENTS THIS GARBAGE? and WHY do they even think it is a good idea?!)

    I never ever jump on the bandwagon to upgrade anything ASAP. I read first to see what people who DID upgrade are saying, & the cries of disaster re iOS.7’s blinding white & parallex rivaled the cries against Neo. I still have not upgraded, but I hear Apple eventually released a fix to turn off the nauseating, vertigo-creating parallex; & that they later created an update to allow a slight diminishing of the blinding white.

    Apple, like Yahoo, is NOT elderly nor disabled-friendly. If either of them had a clue they would not pull this garbage in the first place.

  5. Last few comments for now, my “spurt” is wearing thin but wanted to share this last bit of info:

    THIS!!! > “But “I” care. And when I went to the uservoice Feedback area, a place I like to call the “Feedback Trench,” on August 31, 2013, and saw the despondency, the sorrow, the heartbreak and confusion, and the chaos Neo had caused millions of loyal users, I felt their pain. I felt their heartbreak, and I vowed to help them.”

    Compare THAT to THIS! Somebody else has experienced similar pain!:

    “When I was a PM at Microsoft, the only interaction I had with end users was reviewing Windows Mobile help newsgroups once a quarter. It was like wading through an ocean of pain. It was so sad and ugly to look at, and that was the software we were making — that was the pain we were inflicting on our users.”

    Latter quote by Gary Tan. Will post it in full context below. I only omitted brief parts to make it not as long.

    • “Like an inflatable hammer: Unusable software and its origins”:
      by Gary Tan:
      http://blog.garrytan.com/like-an-inflatable-hammer-unusable-software-and-its-origins

      We use software to get things done. We hope these products will help make our lives better, and that’s why it’s such a blessing to be a software engineer and startup founder. There are an infinite number of things we can make that potentially make things better. Yet as software creators, we fail — over and over and over again.

      Just in the past day, two big brands failed me in major ways through poor software engineering. [He gives 2 examples that drove him batty.]
      […]
      This is the inflatable hammer problem in a nutshell — too often, we are given tools that cannot be used for their described purpose. They’re broken in fundamental ways.

      …These organizations have plenty of resources to make these simple core scenarios work. But it’s not a resource issue. These failings usually happen because designers and engineers who actually make the software are divorced from the management organization that sets the deadlines. There’s no sense of ownership — merely hitting milestones and knocking off items on a to-do list. I hit my goals — ship it and let’s get a beer.

      Large orgs also make the mistake of insulating their product and engineering people from the people who actually experience the pain. There are layers of engineers and management, and emails go to account managers who can’t do anything about it and don’t know anyone who possibly could. When I was a PM at Microsoft, the only interaction I had with end users was reviewing Windows Mobile help newsgroups once a quarter. It was like wading through an ocean of pain. It was so sad and ugly to look at, and that was the software we were making — that was the pain we were inflicting on our users.
      […]
      When idiotic product decisions are made, it takes someone with power to lay the smack down and enforce a culture in which that kind of thing isn’t acceptable.
      […]
      Startups have an even greater chance of success at products because they can listen to users. You don’t have many, so you can actually read and answer every email you get. Take a page from Wufoo, who made their engineers and designers do support every single day. This is the best thing you could possibly do. Connect with the pain of your users, and fix the papercuts, no matter how small. That’s how you get to a great product.

      Don’t make the same mistake the big orgs make. If it sucks, cut scope or slip the schedule. Don’t cut quality and don’t strand your users in frustrating bugs in core scenarios. Fix it and make it better. Listen to users. Fix it. Repeat.

      [Insert Yahoo here] …can endure a lot of failure before it affects their bottom line. They’ve got a lot more things going for them…
      […]
      But for startups, all you’ve got is whether the d*** thing works. So ship it and make it better.

      [The End]

      • I don’t know Garry Tan at all; I only know OF him from having used Posterous from 2009-2011.

        Garry Tan is a software engineer & an advisor to, & an investor in, startups. So he has experience starting new software endeavors himself & has a steady stream of software engineer graduates constantly crossing his path.

        His bio at Crunchbase:
        http://www.crunchbase.com/person/garry-tan
        And at LinkedIn:
        http://www.linkedin.com%252Fin%252Fgarrytan
        His blog:
        http://blog.garrytan.com

        Just an idea for future reference if letters to Yahoo advertisers does not bear fruit in bringing back Classic YGs, maybe Garry Tan might know of some startup engineers looking for a new niche to bite into, ie, a Classic YGs under a new name!

        If all YGs donated $100, what would that amount to? Enough to fund our own “startup”? (I think it should be set up like a Foundation or Trust with a Board of YG-Users calling the shots & not the engineers calling the shots! WE TELL THEM what we want & they build it exactly that way or they are fired on the spot. 😉

        I’m no expert on setting up such things; lawyers & contracts would be required, etc. It would be a huge endeavor, would require organization & lots of focus, oversight, & energy, not to mention money. But the only way to get what we want AND protect it AND KEEP IT the way we want is to own it &/or control it ourselves.

        If/when the group is ready, I’ve got $100 ready for the pot! 🙂

        (We can always dream, right? 😉

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