Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why Yahoo Sucks - Remember "asl plz" era

I have been using Yahoo for a long long time. In fact, yahoo was the first website I came to know of back in school days when I hardly understood what a web site was. Then I got an email-id on yahoo. sidscrazy@yahoo.co.in Now it has been doomed to work as the junkyard for orkut and facebook posts. I hardly use it anymore. Still I had a fascination for yahoo.
It reminded me of the first few years in college when we had this ultra kewl yahoo group chat. "asl plz" still might hit the memory cells in a lot of minds. We used to enter in yahoo chat rooms and look for names which might give hints of being a girl. Like someone named "neha_19_delhi" can be safely be considered to be a girl named Neha, aged 19 and from Delhi. This way there were around 50-100 chat room. There were classification of the chat rooms based on region, interests, technology, society et al. On the right side were the names of all the people online in that chat room. On the left pane which covered 80% of the screen, was a common window. Anyone could writesomething and post in this common chat window. Sometimes there were groups of people from pakistan bad mouthing India in these common chat windows. We would enter such chat groups in bulk and write all possible abuses for Pakistan. It was fun. A favourite timepass. And you could also ping someone on the list on right side for a personal chat. And it would invariably start with "asl plz", meaning age, sex and location please. This was the primary determining factor based on which I would decide whether I want to chat with that person or not.
All in all it was fascinating.

Since first year, my association with yahoo has been only my second email-idc sid_svnit@yahoo.co.in. I had this as my primary email account. my railway reservation, Hutch bill, some programming forums, ICICI bank account, all details come up here. Most important of all, this account is registered to our college group comps_svnit_2k6 whose mails I love to read, howsoever useless it may be. Yahoo messenger simply vanised from the scene as the requirement moved from chat rooms to networking site: orkut taking the place very nicely. As chatting and e-mail were important still, I took a google account. The google account was(still is) very nice.

Here I will try to give a comparative details on what things in yahoo piss me off as a naive user of e-mail:
- Very frequent change in the website/UI
The gmail login page has remained same since probably the first exe of gmail.com was created. No change. I am so much practiced to it that I know how many tabs I need to press before my cursor moved to the login page. On the other hand mail.yahoo.com changes like it is the college project of some sophomores. Do these yahoo people not understand the basic concept of innovation in UI: it has to be subtle and NEVER NEVER change the entry point of the UI for the end user. NEVER.

- Failing to copy gmail in integrating yahoo messenger to yahoo mail. When I login into gmail, along with my mails, my chat window opens up in the left side. Again this is very good innovation. The entry point of the UI is not changed and I notice no major change in the UI and hurrah!! there is a chat window. Not only that, it is integrated to my orkut account. So I can chat with my friends on orkut directly from gmail. I feel pity for yahoo in this regard. Today after a long time I wanted to come on yahoo chat. I thought let me use the yahoo mail option. I saw that after logging into the yahoo mail, the chat is simply not able to start. And I am using what might be one of the fastest bandwidth in India. I tried multiple tmies, but no use.
Still I thought that may be there is some folder in yahoo account where my offline messages are getting stored. Didnt find one.

- When I log-in into gmail, I can see all my mails. All which are visible on the front page. One window.
When I login into yahoo mail, probably people at yahoo think that I have logged in to see their silly ads. What they have for me is 15% of the window on the right for bright ads. On a slow machine, a click by mistake on that window and the browser will almost hang as the ads will be for some second grade sites which dont open in less than 5 seconds.
on the left 15% is the folders for my yahoo. That is ok (ok that is good not just ok). The in the centre is my mails. Here 70% of the horizontal space is eaten up by unnecessary things. top 20% by blank space. Bottom 50% by just one line

"Got your eye on one of those emails up there?
Just click on an email to view it down here in this handy reading pane."

And this is not in big font, it is in small font taking only one line. The remaining space is blank.

- I had registered my gmail account for many job sites while I was searching the job for my brother. One by one I started marking them as spam. And it has worked like wonders. At one point I had thought that I will never be able to use my gmail account for anything productive. But now, I use it as all the mails I marked and from same senders (and probably more based on the spam logic) go straight to the spam folder.
Yahoo just fools the end user here. There are many mails I mark as spam. It moves the mails to the spam folder. But it doesnt implement the simplest rule of spam filter that at least from the same sender, all other mails should go to spam folder. I keep getting mails from same senders again and again. Hats off to the coders of Yahoo (where art thou feet??).

- After not being able to read my offline messages, I decided to installl yahoo messenger. Thankfully they have not changed the login page much. But it doesn't log-in. I saw that there is a "connection preferences" options. Tried all possible combinations. No luck!!
Then disabled my firewall. No luck!!
Then installed a new OS, disabled firewall, made sure there was no AV running, and installed YM there. Still no luck with log-in.

No wonder Yahoo declined to be bought for 33$ a share and went to 16$ or so in 6 months. With software brains this good,, what else can be expected from the managers there. Will someone believe that in 2000, its stock had touched $118.75 a share!!!

I tried digging into the downfall of yahoo. Started with the nice wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo .
Will collect and post it later... stay tuned.

(ps: Views are personal)

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