Why the YAHOO Crusade Came to a Crashing Halt

busyowl2

I started the Yahoo Crusade (#2) on August 31st, 2013. It began because NEO had started affecting people, and someone came to me via the MM group (which still existed from the previous crusade) and asked me to help them again.

So we started trying to get Yahoo to stop destroying Classic Groups. We wrote Marissa, Henrique (the COO), and others at Yahoo first. Then we wrote advertisers, stockholders, and media. At one point, I was writing over 100 reporters and 150 advertisers. Then I joined Twitter, learned to tweet, and started trying to reach the media and others that way.

Along with others, I established a tweeting connection with Yahoo’s Jeff Bonforte, who was the senior vice president of communications, but he was no help. He ultimately wound up blocking us, and we gave up reaching anyone at Yahoo through him. At the beginning, I had a lot of help. We created the blog for the Yahoo Crusade, originally titled the Mods and Members Blog; people sent their stories in and we posted them.

My main WordPress editor and I (because I’m all thumbs in there) created owl and other graphics and worked tirelessly for months to make the blog what it is. Tyger and Duane worked with me, doing research and creating documents and other items for the blog. Tyger ultimately got fed up with Yahoo and left. Duane did the same, although more quietly.  I still had some people left who were helping me, but I had lost a huge chunk of my research team, and I needed that desperately.

Then my main WordPress editor’s life changed when her mother died, and she no longer stayed up all night with me working on the blog. She got a job, and although I can contact her and ask her help with it, we haven’t been able to do nearly as much as we could before, and I completely understood that. I also had several  moderators helping me with the group. Somehow down the line, I lost touch with one of them for a while. Others are still around, but some had problems with their Yahoo e-mail addresses, and I don’t know how to contact them for sure.

Tyger ultimately created our new home, MMSanctuary, on groups.io and joined there. Duane came when I contacted him and asked him, so my moderator and research team are now over there as well. Shal even allowed me to make him a moderator to help me out when I was stuck and couldn’t find Tyger, and I added another new moderator this year.

A year into the Crusade, August 2014, it was becoming apparent that we were not going to succeed in our quest this time. I had lost my research team, the reporters were getting tired of hearing mostly only from me, and I was not able to keep up the same pace as before. My elderly parents both had serious surgeries in the early part of 2014, and even though Dad was in the Veteran’s Home, there was a lot for me to handle for them. It began to take more and more of my time.

Then in August, I was fired (removed) from my piano job at the church due a huge misunderstanding about the terms of my contract. I was was actually glad in a way to not have the job because I don’t read music well and was having to do more and more to cover for Mom, who was the organist with me. However, the way it happened got my mom depressed, upset me, and caused a lot of stress.

Meanwhile, three days before I was let go from the church, Mike Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson. That set off a HUGE media firestorm and caused us a lot of issues because my mother lives between Dellwood and Ferguson. She was 84 at the time and wouldn’t move. I live only 6 miles from there and had to regularly go in and out of part of that area to get to Mom, so that became an ongoing source of stress and worry.

Then on November 11th, my mom fell, broke her hip, and went into rehab for awhile. That was before the Mike Brown verdict and the night the rioters burned down part of Ferguson, so fortunately Mom was not in the area.She got out of rehab in December, went back home, and things were finally starting to settle down some. However, she is 85 now, and we are having  communication issues, some based on memory and some based on just our own dynamic. It’s been hard, butI thought things had started to settle down a little last month. I started resolving some things with the church people (as it was coming up on a year) and making better plans on handling Mom and our problems with communication.

Also, I FINALLY started trying to get more sleep. I have been going to bed between 3 and 5 a.m. probably on average of 4 nights a week or more since I was fired. I had trouble sleeping, nightmares, and adrenaline rushes. I stayed up for hours and hours monitoring the situation in Ferguson on Twitter and became really good friends with many reporters, including some of the ones I had communication with regarding Yahoo. Since I grew up in the Ferguson/Dellwood area, I was able to direct people to escape routes when tear gas was thrown or shooting started. I warned them where the gunshots were because I watch local ordinary TV and it would break in all the time. I basically safeguarded people while monitoring how close any of the unrest was getting to Mom when she was at home.

I was developing a better sleep pattern, trying to take care of me more, and getting Mom and the church calmed down when the 1st year anniversary of Mike Brown rolled around last weekend – and all hell broke loose again. So once again I was back on Twitter monitoring Ferguson for nearly 5 nights straight until 4 or 5 a.m. before it finally calmed down again…we hope. It’s still not perfectly calm yet, but the shooting at night has not continued so far, and thank God, no one has set any more fires.

So between running out of time on my end (as I no longer had the time I had before with all this going on) and just finding myself exhausted by the end of the day, the Crusade suffered.

In order to have continued the Crusade at the peak effort I had been at, I would have needed the following:

  • A devoted research team to find articles and the reporters’ contact information for me,
  • A group of people willing to help write/send letters to reporters/advertisers/executives because I no longer had enough time to do it on my own anymore,
  • Someone very experienced in WordPress with enough time to fill in when my main editor couldn’t,
  • A Twitter team to spread tweets far and wide because I couldn’t do it on my own, and
  • Someone to create a viral video for us that might have managed to get more of the public’s attention.

I had none of this. I had a skeleton research team, and I’m proud of them. I had my main editor whenever she could help me, but I also knew she had to get a job and lead a different life now. I had a few people who agreed to write letters, but it wasn’t enough. I had very few Twitter helpers. I had no one to make a viral video, and I didn’t know how.

I asked repeatedly for help in the group, and got help here and there, but I didn’t get a lot; mostly I got the impression that everyone was done trying to fight Yahoo. So we refocused our direction on finding a new home but even that was daunting to do alone. I needed people to check out each new site and give me feedback about them or write a post for me to put on the blog, but it never happened. I needed people to help me explain what we needed and why, and I got a little help with that. We did a post on the blog and we listed our issues. That was a post asking for help in creating a new site for the Yahoo refugees – and along came Mark. 🙂

So you see, that’s where the Crusade wound up. That’s why it crashed to a nearly grinding halt, and I don’t know what else to do to get it jump-started again or if it even has enough power to jump-start. My fervor for the cause has not diminished, not even slightly, but my ability to sustain what I had been doing has been reduced dramatically.

I thank everyone who fought this fight, and we decided to leave the group and the blog here for those who want to continue fighting and those who want help leaving Yahoo.

With respect and gratitude to all of you for all you’ve done,
Nightowl >8#
Owner/Moderator of Mods & Members

Advertisements

Graphics Under Attack

Owl Distressed

Hello Nightowl,

I really am in awe of the amount of work that has gone on to put this blog up and all the information it contains.

Here is our story…. it may differ somewhat from others. We are scripters and stationery makers. That is to say the groups I am involved are to do with HTML/ VBScript to animate e-mails. There is also a Yahoo group for learning Vector Markup Language to add to our scripts. There are those that simply fill in the scripts with their own graphics and music or there are those like myself that actually write the scripts.

We were quite happy until very recently when our mail suddenly arrived back to us on the bounce in pieces. Yahoo had, out of the blue, switched us from traditional or classic to fully featured. We found out how a blank mail with the name of the group in the address would be answered by Yahoo and the traditional status returned.

BUT no sooner had that problem been solved than all our creative work came back with an egp html banner. That involves a load of Yahoo text either at the top or at the bottom of our mail. and defacing stripes across it. It is like graffiti on top of our work.

We have some canny scripters among us that can find a way of hiding it, but as yet no code to actually filter it out. Kill it. And we were such happy creators, mostly stay-at-homes, some with a health issue, some Senior Citizens. It was their outlet.

This is what one of mine looks like on the rebound from Yahoo. And Yes… some of us do still use XP with Outlook Express. Some use WLM or WM in Win7.

To give you some idea… The center shape rotates as do the 4 ovals. The background scrolls left to right and the text message becomes visible over the center image then fades away in this example.

Fish

But whatever is used it should NOT be sent back from the group “bounce” in this condition.

Scripters do put a credit section in their scripts and this is mine for this script:

<script language=”VBScript”>
‘***************************
‘Written by Andraea
‘Date july 2014
‘What the script is about- VML shapes with rotation extrusion attributes
‘This is my work and it is forbidden for organisations to add to or alter the script without prior permission from the scripter©
‘With thanks to Shar and Lynn and the DSC Script Crafters and Bram for the VML lessons
‘***************************
Option Explicit
SetLocale(“en-gb”) ………..

Sadly so far I am not that clever a scripter to understand the extra attachment coding in the Cascading Style Sheet or the code in the VBScript to see how it is triggered. So to date we cannot delete it, block it or eliminate it as once the inclusion of a visiting card did. Thus I continue a search of those with more advanced coding know-how.

A few scripters may revise all their scripts, some may just write new ones to hide it, but it is still there underneath or pushed down out of sight….thus defeating the object of the exercise as far as Yahoo are concerned. Their banner is thus not visible.

It would help us all if Yahoo knew what effect it has on our creative aspirations and actually felt some sympathy towards us. Because it certainly does not enhance what we do or add to our “enjoyment of the NEO experience.”

Sincerely,
Andraea

 

Yahoo Finds New Ways to Spam Its Members

spamowlBy Charley Silverman

This article is a follow-up to a previous article written in the hopes of highlighting the problems caused by Yahoo with its hasty decision to NEO-fy its membership.  In February, I wrote an article about how Yahoo’s awful decision to inflict its NEO model on its users affected one business community, namely the members of the QFLEA small business community.

You can read that article here.

This community consists of small business people who run their businesses on websites and list those businesses at QFLEA.com.  A major component of our shared experience is the QFLEA Yahoo Group, where said businesses have the opportunity to exchange information and ideas that are beneficial to all.

We’ve run this Yahoo Group since 1999 and have shared over 20,000 posts related specifically to small business.  These posts have educated members about a variety of issues from business shopping carts to website HTML coding to search engine optimization to effective use of social media and much more.  The one thing that we have not allowed in this group is advertising.  We made a decision early in the process that the one thing that might kill this Yahoo Group was if we all started spamming each other, so the 20,000 messages in this group have been related only to business and topics that would assist our members.

That ended with NEO.  While hundreds of members have been able to refrain from spamming the Yahoo Group for almost fifteen years, Yahoo has decided to spam us on their own.  Intertwined within the educational and informational posts of our membership is spam from AdChoices.  For example, in between my post about QFLEA and social media this morning and a member post about how to handle a particular line of text/javascript, there is spam from Yahoo about there being no long-term benefits from Glucosamine.  Between a question about websites and mobile phones and commentary about a business editorial, we have spam about the top credit cards for 2014 for excellent credit.

Have the powers-that-be at Yahoo lost their minds?  Is it not bad enough that you’ve spammed our group with big picture ads?  (By the way, my favorite is the ad for the builder of the community in whose house I already live!!)  Must you muddy up a purely information process with advertising as well?  Your spam ads are unwelcome and detract from the efficiency of our Yahoo Group, though having said that, I know it means nothing to you.  I just find it particularly annoying that in addition to giving us a platform which is buggy, user-unfriendly, troublesome to edit, and a major step backwards in terms of usefulness, you’ve added spamming into our content.

It would appear that NEO is, if nothing else, aptly named.  It stands for what must be your new mantra, Never-ending Economic Opportunities!  In layman’s terms, Yahoo is now spamming all that is spammable!  Unfortunately, at the rate they are proceding, there will be fewer and fewer members on which to foist future failures.

How Yahoo’s Mistake Affected One Business Community

Owl BusinessmanBy Charley Silverman

This is a story about how Yahoo’s horrible decision to force NEO into our lives has affected one small business community.  Though one story, it probably reflects the experience of many.

QFLEA.com is an online flea market comprised of over almost two hundred small business vendors selling goods and services on the internet.  Pre-NEO, we were closer to four hundred.  These small businesses are what we call the true “Mom and Pop” stores of the digital age, competing against the forces of the megasites and big box stores.

In 1999, each small business owner joined a discussion board called eGroups which was purchased in 2000 by Yahoo.  The purpose for this discussion board was to share common interests and provide mutual assistance.  Members could ask questions about various business processes and issues, with other members the providing answers.  All those questions and answers were saved in the group archives and became a gold mine of information.  Over the years, we also added various lists and databases and other data, all designed to support the small business member.

It worked very well for many years, until one morning in 2013 when we all realized that something was very wrong.  Our business community members suddenly found themselves with a new problem.  The group through which they had shared information since 1999 was suddenly looking different and acting very strangely.  Many were unable to access the group, the messages, or the databases.  Others were no longer able to even log in.  The new platform, NEO, had been forced on us with no announcement, no beta testing and no regard to the impact on literally millions of users.

As August turned to September, many of the QFLEA members were unable or unwilling to proceed through the nightmares that NEO caused.  Databases were no longer viewable, data was lost, and that gold mine of old messages was now tangled into something called “conversations.”  The ability to search through them for a topic was lost.  For a while, even the ability to edit a message was inoperative.  Members started to drop from QFLEA rather than put up with Yahoo’s disastrous decision.  Others who wanted to remain were unable to do so as re-registration required providing Yahoo with a cell phone number.  Some members don’t have cell phones and others were unwilling to provide that information.  Small businesses face many challenges in trying to compete with the big stores for shoppers.  For two members, this change was literally their “last straw” and they closed their businesses.

Now, almost six months after this awful change, activities through the QFLEA group have dropped significantly.  Searching for messages is still not possible.  Much of the functionality that the prior Classic Groups possessed is gone.  Two related Yahoo groups, the QFLEA-Cafe and the QFLEA-ShoppingNews, off-topic discussions and a shopper’s newsletter respectively, were closed in order to try to focus our attention on trying to fix the mess that Yahoo created in our QFLEA group.  We’re still working through this nightmare.  As a moderator, I cannot do many of the things that were important, including searching the activity logs, downloading a list of members and unbouncing members.

By the numbers, the impact is clear.  For those searching and finding QFLEA online, Yahoo has now fallen a distant third behind Google and Bing in how we are being found, and they are barely in third place as Ask.com is a close fourth.  The percentage of people finding us through Yahoo has dropped 31.5% since last year.

Yahoo’s overall revenue fell 6% in the last three months of 2013.  Prices for both online display ads and search ads declined in the fourth quarter.  The company’s shares were down 3.7%.  This is no surprise.  Anyone at Yahoo not realizing that NEO is the root cause of their loss of revenues and their growing customer-dissatisfaction is not paying attention.  How quickly they have forgotten “The New Coke.”  It took awhile, but eventually, three months after its disastrous introduction, company president Donald R. Keough acknowledged, “We did not understand the deep emotions of so many of our customers for Coca-Cola,” as the New Coke was removed from the shelves.

One can only hope that Marissa Mayer finds the courage that Mr. Keough showed and decides to “understand the deep emotions” of millions of Yahoo Group users who have been clear and outspoken in their desire to remove NEO from their lives!  If she doesn’t, she might share the same fate of a certain Decca record executive who in 1962 decided not to sign a band because he believed that “guitar bands were on the way out.”  The group he rejected?  Yes, it was The Beatles.

TalkTemari & JTA MentorDiscuss – Neo Impact on Groups

strsshoot

TalkTemari, created January of 2000, currently has 789 members; JTA MentorDiscuss, created in October of 2009 as a sub-group of TalkTemari, has 75 members – both stats as of this writing. Both group memberships are supporting moving to another service since, in particular, the photo saving issue has rendered us defunct.

The groups study and practice Japanese Temari, an ancient folk art stitchery. I have users of all ages, nationalities, levels of physical and visual abilities, living in all sorts of communities including very remote areas, levels of internet access and computer hardware, and levels of computer ability. A great many members are also dependent upon the group for their social sanity. Those that are on older equipment and/or slower connections can’t even get into Groups, let alone struggle with the new navigation and dysfunction of the site.

The font and color are causing many people distress as they cannot see it clearly. The site does not work with disability adaptations. The entire site runs excruciatingly slow and frequently hangs or crashes. This only adds to the frustration of people trying to find their way around and learn new navigation.

Given the ethnic orientation of the group, I had major complaints (including my own horror) about the “default” cover image assigned to us – “coolie hats,” as most members described them. It took me several hours to figure out how, much less get the process to work, to change it, but the damage had been done in terms of people being disrespected. I had to play to find the correct resolution and sizing to get an image appear decently. Nevermind that we previously used members’ photos for this purpose – but, the current banner format defeats that.

*) The inability to download (as in right-click and save) photos has rendered my groups useless for the educational purposes we engage in. As one of the primary purposes of the groups, I frequently manage classes through the groups, and now it is impossible since we depended upon members downloading instructional photos. In addition, the inability for people to download their OWN photos treads on copyright legalities; at the very least, as my members say “who is Yahoo to keep me from MY photos?”. The “lightbox”/slide show presentation is clumsy and not user friendly. The comment functionality compared to Classic version is not user friendly; people cannot find or see the bubble. This further impacts the educational purpose since commenting on members’ work through their photos is our common tutoring method.

*) “Burying” links to common functions, obscuring things in hover links and boxes, lack of user support for Groups provided by Yahoo, and lack of explanation of “format,” etc., has made it frustrating, time consuming and physically difficult for all of my groups’ members. The most used functions differ from group to group. Two of the three most common functions my groups use are now buried in the “More” drop-down, and for whatever reason the image mapping on those links is miniscule. It is very difficult to “hit the target” to get the link to work for all of us, let alone those with disability. I have spent hours on my list and through private emails trying to help people through navigation – which is exceedingly more difficult because some things work for others and not for some. I have become a YG Support person, not a Master level Kyoujou in Temari. We’ve spent the last weeks trying to figure out how to work in the new format, not studying Temari, and that’s not looking to change soon. Owners/moderators are each group’s “user support” staff. Not knowing what/when this was coming, let alone the dysfunction in Neo, leaves me spinning my wheels.

*) From its birth, TalkTemari was a Public group, as opposed to other Temari groups that were rather choosy. Everyone has always been able to join and warmly welcomed. In the Neo conversion it became Restricted. All of my efforts to contact customer support to have this corrected have gone unanswered. It has changed the entire presentation and reputation of the group, made it less welcoming, and added twice the amount of work to my moderating duties.

*) At any given time over a third of my members are using the website to read and reply to messages – or at least they were, since replying via the YG site doesn’t work.

*) Not being able to email a member if I am rejecting or editing a message or photo is creating major anger issues. I cannot explain in a quick and efficient manner why the need to edit or deny; even with the extra effort of sending a separate email, if the member sees the rejection before the email, they are angry. I’ve spent years trying to build a reputation as a fair and polite, understanding moderator; now it just looks like a power trip. I cannot educate the member on why the post or photo needed editing.

*) Performance on smartphones and tablets is terrible in both function and design. This means we are losing current and potential members given today’s current technology. A significant number of people have tablets as their only device. My members are very angry that their tablets are now pretty much useless for Groups. For physically impaired people that have come to depend on the ease of a tablet, they are out in the cold.

*) I write policy and procedure documents to support my groups’ members. These must all be redone, with no notice, let alone my own learning curve to figure out a new interface. Ditto the links in my websites directing people to join the groups – they have to be all recoded.

*) “Conversations” is meaningless – especially when it pulls up messages from years ago as opposed to the current one if there are common words in the subject line – which, by the way, is a much more specific and understood label as opposed to “Conversations” and “topics.” Hundreds of people for years have understood “thread” as a subject title. The mix of old and new messages is rendering old postings useless as all it does is cause confusion.

Ginny Thompson, JTA Kyoujou 2010
–Ginny T.
puffin98@verizon.net
http://www.temarikai.com

Fail Without Fixed Fonts!

strsshoot

Brenda – I can’t figure out how to write my “impact story” – I know it isn’t as life-changing as some, but Yahoo did take one of my groups and turn it into garbage overnight…

Here’s my brief story and if you decide it’s not severe enough to be included, I will understand:

One of my groups was created for the purpose of sharing competition scoresheets for a 28,000 member organization. At this point, it has complete stats going back to 1995 (!) and overnight 90% of the stats became garbage when Yahoo removed a simple tool that used to be inside each message. Under “options” there was the ability to view the source of the message, choose to unwrap the lines, or USE FIXED WIDTH FONT to view the message.

FixedFontOwl

(The above is a fixed-width owl lying on its side.)

All of the scoresheets depend upon the fixed width font to make the columns line up so they make sense. Over the years, I’ve had to put in strange sentence formatting to get around ads (that aren’t there any more) and add periods between the entries in each column when Yahoo stripped away my tab formatting, but the lack of the fixed width font option cannot be fixed. I’m sure mine is not the only group where literally years of work has been nearly destroyed.

The example below, if pasted into Notepad with Courier as the font, will show you what is needed.

But to see what Yahoo has done to me, paste the same example into Word and choose any font  BUT a fixed width font.

CONTESTANT..............SND.MUS.EXP.SHO.PENALTY..TOTAL..PLACE...%
===================================================================
Rönninge Show...(132)....79..82..83..86
Rönninge.................82..80..85..84
Britt-Helene Bonnedahl..161.162.168.170...........661.....1...82.63

Yahoo has returned the ability to view the source of the message, so I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t take a brain trust to convert that link to the options menu we had before.

I posted this request in the Feedback Trench months ago and it has garnered over 500 votes with more being added almost every day, but it’s still in the dreaded “Under Review” status with no action or other response by Yahoo since the first day it was posted. I can’t begin to describe my frustration and sadness at the lack of respect for all of my years of hard work.

Marti Lovejoy

The Overlooked Value of Archives

strsshoot

What seems to sail over Yahoo’s head every time is the notion of volumes and decades worth of user-generated content that is actually *about* something besides the user’s own latest antics. So simple to you and me; so seemingly alien to the people who keep trying to turn Groups into anything else.

This is **so very true** it bears repeating. On my 2,000+ member group (supplemented by an 850+ member companion group) there are at least two books being written based on the historical, corporate, financial and social information and records posted. We are very strong on documenting things being discussed if they are not first person accounts. Such concepts as academic research and documentation of financial and historic data is so far beyond the comprehension of Indian programmers that they probably never would understand. It suggests to me that Americans are seen worldwide more as fluff and bits of ego than having any serious pursuits or values.

That is why I’m so very concerned with saving our 81,000 post Message archive. The data contained is greater and worth more than many people could comprehend.

Dan Stinson