To Jeff Bonforte, Senior Vice President, Communications

(My Address Removed)
September 15, 2013

Jeff Bonforte
Senior Vice President, Communications
Yahoo! Inc.
704 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Dear Jeff Bonforte:

I am Brenda (Last name removed), head of the Yahoo group Mods and Members, and I am writing to ask you to please right a serious mistake and restore our Classic Group design immediately, before you lose any more users and more people suffer irreparable harm.

Due to the changes that have been made to Yahoo Groups users without any warning or beta testing, people are actually suffering serious mental and physical harm.

  • People are experiencing high blood pressure, seizures, vertigo, depression, migraines, and the like from the Neo interface. Others are so shocked they just cry.
  • People are devastated because they are bedridden or elderly and unable to get out and their main link to the world has been severed. Those who used to use Groups on a mobile phone are lost, as Neo doesn’t work on mobile devices.
  • People who have depended on their Groups for years for moral, medical, and mental support have lost their links to those things. There are so many people cut off from help because they have lost their depression Group, cancer support, or other serious illness Group resource.
  • Disabled people cannot use this interface: it does not work with screen readers for the blind, and people with limited mobility cannot manage the extra clicking. In some disabled people it has begun to seriously endanger their health.
  • People have been horrified to discover that they can’t retrieve their archives, sometimes years and years of them, and those who haven’t been Neoized yet are desperately trying to save their vast stores of archives in time. They are pushing their limits to the point where they are affecting their health, losing sleep over it, and even having nightmares.
  • In many Groups, precious work has been lost. Personal artwork, photos, years and years of research, family archives and genealogy information, authors’ stories and works, historical data, and so on. Those who are Neoized cannot get to them and are being severely traumatized by this. Many are praying it’s all a bad dream and that  tomorrow they will wake up and Classic will be restored again. I am joining them in that prayer.

I have been heading up the movement to stop Neo and roll it back, and restore the Classic Format. Not only does Neo not suit the standard Yahoo Groups concept, it also does not work. So much is wrong with it that it would take reams of paper to describe, and these fixes can’t be done with the users in this chaotic state.

The only solution I see is to roll back Neo, restore Classic to these traumatized users, and set up an actual beta testing with Neo with volunteers, not unsuspecting users, if you want to pursue it. Anything less than that and the rest of the Groups users will leave. Many already have, including Cory’s House, which was a teenager group that took 130,000 members with it.

Yahoo needs to be made to understand that Yahoo Groups are not a social media site. They are much more than that and cannot function under the Neo design. They are serious sites about serious topics. I’ve been collecting some of their users’ comments in my group, and you’ll find everything from Groups that assist birth parents in being reunited with their biological children and the Board of Directors of the National Dog Rescue Organization to town meeting groups and PTA school groups, many of which already have had to disband because they could not function anymore with the Neo interface.

There are groups that teach online classes and support groups for illnesses and mental disorders. There are groups that provide assistance in emergencies for both people and pets. There are RPG groups that play games, topical groups that follow movies and other media, and memorial groups made for people whom they want to remember. Many of these groups have thousands and thousands of members.

None of these groups can function with Neo. Even if it were fixed, it simply does not suit the needs of the serious group format that these people have been using for years and years. I have documented nearly half a million people who have already left in the past two weeks or so. There are so many more who stand ready to leave if nothing is done. Still others came to my group and asked us to help them again as we had in 2010 with Jim Stoneham, so we said yes.

You can be a hero in this. Yahoo can be shown to be a caring place that really does care about its users if you would just say, “OK, this didn’t work,” and stop Neo in its tracks, roll it back, and restore Classic. If you did that, you could win back many of your loyal users.

Instead, what we have are almost 5,000 complaints begging Yahoo to stop Neo and restore their Classic groups in one thread alone in the Feedback Area. If you add up the votes in the entire Feedback Area, the numbers are 100,000 against Neo and about 100 in favor. That’s a ratio of 1000 to 1 against it. People are crying out for help and begging you to give back their groups, their archives, their photos, and their “homes” and receiving no response other than the usual canned replies.

The entire Yahoo Groups community feels like Yahoo just took a bulldozer to their favorite places  and smashed them all flat. Users are stunned, devastated, and overwhelmed by this. And it was done in such an inappropriate way, with no warning. No one asked these users to be in this test, and when it was finally admitted it was a test, users were told that they could not get out of it. So, many found another way to get out of it:  they just quit.

You can rescue this community of users in crisis. You can give them something to hold on to and give them back their Classic Groups, their stability, and their precious data. Create Neo for people who need it and want it. Test it on people who are willing. Make a separate platform because the Neo platform does not work for Groups for a large number of reasons.

I’ll give you an example why. In Classic Groups, you can search by page of archives or by message number. In Neo, one group discovered all 35,000 messages of theirs were on one front page, something they had to scroll endlessly to find any messages if they didn’t know the numbers. That is not what Groups were about.

You also took away all their customization, replaced their often lovingly made home page photos with ridiculous pictures that made no sense, and then made it nearly impossible to change them. Users have crafted these Groups for years. They have put so much love into changing the colors, décor, photos, etc. These were their creations, which have been destroyed.

If you could just talk with the group owners and users, you would see how the Neo format would not work for them. Freecycle Groups had a serious breach of confidence at first with everyone’s private contact info going public. We have heard that has been stopped, but it should never have happened to begin with. The Group users should never have been considered to be Yahoo’s guinea pigs whom they could experiment with at random. And that is what was done, plain and simple.

We are making every effort to right this wrong. We have contacted the media, the advertisers, the executives, and the board members. We are putting what happened out there everywhere we can in hopes that you would finally understand the depth of destruction that has been inflicted upon Group users and roll back Neo.

I invite you to come to my group and read the comments for yourself. I can also provide proof of any statement I have made here should you want it.

Please consider the seriousness of this situation and help us out of this mess before it’s too late.

Sincerely,

Brenda (Last Name Removed)
owlsy@yahoo.com
Nightowl >8#
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/modsandmembers/

Yahoo Groups Feedback Area:
http://yahoo.uservoice.com/forums/209451-us-groups/suggestions/4276993-return-groups-format-to-prior-format-that-works-?page=1&per_page=20

Back to other Letters from Owl

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One thought on “To Jeff Bonforte, Senior Vice President, Communications

  1. Dear Jeff,

    I made a terrible choice trusting Yahoo years ago.

    Unreliable email? After all these years?

    You guys really blew it.

    I will figure out how to tell all of the people I communicate with through my old Yahoo email.

    Cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to cancelling my account with you.

    You guys have made some really bad choices in how you deal with the people who pay for your service.

    We have choices – good luck with your stock options.

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