My Last Yahoo

owlflyingleft

Greetings, Nightowl…

As suggested on your wordpress site, I’m forwarding my ‘letter of resignation’ to Yahoo in case you want to post it on any of your forums or anywhere you like, with any modifications you like. Plain text & simple pdf are attached; use as you see fit. This is it; sorry, I’ll no longer post on any Y! forum or group.

Here’s my last comment from the ‘trench,’ & it all applies to you, too, esp. the part about unconscious plagiarism. I honestly haven’t read all your posts, but you’ve probably said it all better before.

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To all members & dedicated contributors on these forums: I’ve posted my ‘letter of resignation’ to Yahoo! from an ‘old’ Mail user – ‘old’ in the triple sense of aged, long-term, and previous. It will mean nothing to the addressee; it’s just my last futile gesture & there will be no more. The only possible value is to let the good people here know where I’m coming from & my final thoughts. Sorry for the length, but it’s my last chance to say my piece & I’m taking it. Feel free to copy, paste, quote, modify, however & wherever you like, if you think any of it has any value – no rights reserved. It’s all been said before anyway, so apologies for unconscious plagiarism. I’m posting it only on the dead ‘Please Bring Back Tabs’ thread & the currently active ‘Can’t view folders’ thread. (It’s specifically about tabs, but the latter is my 2nd major complaint & it’s all part of the same lame package.) I’ll post it a few places outside & that’s it; I’m done.

Honestly, I’ll probably not check back here or elsewhere regarding this for some time, if ever. As I’ve said before, I’ll be happy never to see that Yahoo! logo again. I’ve already switched to another primary provider, moved over all my folders, notified all my contacts, and I’m just watching & waiting from outside for the last trickle of messages in my Y! inbox to dry up. Those of you continuing the good fight have my sincere admiration, if it means anything coming from a copout dropout. I wish you all the best.

Last Yahoo.txt:

To Yahoo! management from one of your ‘old’ users:

I should make it clear at the outset that I’m one of those old fogeys supposedly endemically resistant to change, a longtime Yahoo! Mail user not exactly thrilled with your new UI. I can best establish my credentials to comment on this issue, or lack thereof, with a little story.

In a former life, I played a very small part in the birth of the Internet. In the 1980s I worked in a large American university library as a ‘computer specialist’ – a civil service classification for which I barely qualified with a humanities BA, a few basic CS courses in my CV, and only elementary programming skills. I was in the Library Automation office, working with a team from the vendor doing software for our in-house minicomputer/terminal network and conversion of our card catalog to MARC records. This was in the days of washing-machine-size hard drives with half the capacity of a USB stick. My specific assignment was data communications, porting our database to the outside world using an equally ancient switchbox the size of two refrigerators to link up with the hardcore computer jocks across campus plugged into the mainline. Welcome to ARPANET.

I left that job in the late 80s, and since then I’ve never worked in a library or with computers in any professional or business capacity, only for personal use. As I said it was a former life, about two of them ago in fact, and even then I was approaching middle age. I’m just a typical Old Fogey who’s managed to retain some basic computer skills rapidly falling prey to creeping senility. Feel free to ignore the remainder of this transmission.

But I have seen a fair bit of computer and internet history, so here’s a message from grandpa, and I’ll try not to dodder on too long. The topic is the Tabbed Interface. It’s been standard in the browser market for years, we’re all comfortable and familiar with it, and we’ve learned to use it to our best advantage. I was happy to see it introduced to Yahoo!; it makes a lot of sense for e-mail, too, and it’s nice to have a consistent UI across the board. We can safely say it’s the current paradigm, probably at about its median point. It’s not dead yet; for example, Apple just introduced it in their Finder.

(Last and only Apple plug: Grandpa also remembers the days of the command-line interface (C:\>) when his boss happened to be a Mac freak and one demo of the UI was enough to convince most of the staff that this was The Way Of The Future. Beta test of the Windows interface if you will.)

None of that means it’s the only way, or that it shouldn’t change; in that case we’d all still be looking at C>prompts. It’s definitely not the way of the future; we’re groping toward that now. Paradigms come in waves and we’re at the crest of one already riding the downward slope as the next one pushes us forward. The windowed interface and its tabbed variant are standard now, but they won’t be in 5 years, not as we know them now. This too will pass. The waves are coming faster (it’s probably been graphed somewhere), which is a Good Thing. Progress means change, and real change means pain; it’s generally the case. No pain no gain, but if we get something better, the pain was worth it.

In the midst of these rough seas, it’s nice to have a place to rest somewhere. A place where you can just relax and do what you need to do because it’s the natural thing to do in the current UI paradigm. A safe haven while you explore new alternatives is particularly important for business and other power users, not to mention old fogeys. For web-mail on desktops and laptops, I think Yahoo! got it about right last time.

You are wisely eyeing the mobile market, which involves designing an interface more compatible with touchscreen devices and the needs of largely casual users, not those doing intensive multitasking – a design your major competitor executed with great success under your current CEO. But it’s tricky to cram two good things into one super-good thing, and I don’t think you got it quite right this time. You might have done better if you’d beta-tested it and gotten valuable feedback from your customers. We all know that’s the real disaster here. I’m no business guru, but unannounced beta-testing on your whole customer base with zero MR, seriously?

My humble suggestion, my modest proposal in these troubled transitional times, is that until you cram all those good things into one irresistible package that everyone loves, it’s allowed to have two good things. Continue to refine your new release for all platforms while providing a safe haven for the desktop/laptop users who are still your biggest customer base, including most of your paying customers and all your business customers. I think they taught us in CS 101 that it’s good to keep a backup until you get v.1 wrapped, so why not provide a meaningful alternative in the form of the most recent release while continuing to improve this one? It will cost you something in resources but you’ll keep most of your customers. Otherwise the response here and elsewhere suggests a significant number will choose another primary provider.

The ‘Recent’ fix indicates you’re trying to incorporate the multitasking power lost in transition, but as-is it’s only a form of task-switching. You may yet succeed in creating a non-tabbed interface that preserves (and improves) multitasking, but you’re not there yet. I suggest you provide a working option until you get it right.

I’m only saying what everyone here is saying: give us a choice. Provide the previous release as the ‘Basic’ option, rather than the crippled one now in place. I think almost everyone here would be happy with that. You would keep your loyal customers and in the process gain valuable feedback – not only statistical evidence on how the two versions rate with users, but meaningful suggestions from users of both versions on all platforms – rather than the string of complaints here.

This is the short version:

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SUGGESTION to Yahoo management on the simplest and best way to resolve this issue:

1. If you believe the new interface best serves the needs of your main customer base and new customers you hope to attract, fix the many significant bugs reported here and elsewhere.

2. Provide the previous interface with tabs as the ‘Basic’ option rather than the current Basic version lacking tabs and other features valued by many of your long-term customers.

In that way you will satisfy both segments of your customer base, and in the process gain valuable feedback on which version REALLY serves the needs of your customers.

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Jay
– A Yahoo! Mail user (you have my address, for now)

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