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The Confusing World of the Yahoo
Member Name: grahamt
Date: 13/11/09, updated on 27/12/10 (74 review reads)
Advantages: Financial News ; Groups ; eMail
Disadvantages: Inconsistent ; flaky ; unreliable POP email access
I've been a member of Yahoo almost as long as I've had a Hotmail account. It was the second site to which I signed up, originally for an alternative eMail account, after MS started playing around with Hotmail and alienating their members. The name intrigued me. Why Yahoo? If you remember, the Yahoos were fairly unpleasant creatures that Jonathan Swift created in his Gulliver's Travels.
Whatever, I must admit it was mostly just to see what Yahoo had to offer that I joined. I didn't really use the account very much at all. Mind you, way back then BG (Before Google), Yahoo was probably best known as one of a number of search engines and one highly thought of by some. Me, I was very much an AltaVista fan (whatever happened to them?) and especially of its Babelfish translation tools. Yahoo I used occasionally, along with any number of others, more especially for its financial market information.
AG (After Google) my use of Yahoo pretty much ceased for many years. My Gmail account became my eMail account of choice and the rest, as they say, is history. As its user base started to slip away Yahoo tried to turn itself into an alternative to AOL; actually, it's probably fair to say that this had already started, but Google definitely forced Yahoo to concentrate on its future strategy a lot more.
I suppose Yahoo came back into the the picture for me again about the time I started getting interested in Freecycle. When I discovered that Freecycle was run as Yahoo groups and if I wanted to use it I would have to be a Yahoo member, I suddenly remembered I already was, although I couldn't for the life of me remember what my password was!
So, you could say that currently I am into my second age of Yahoo membership, and things have changed quite a bit whilst I've been away. The Home Page is not what you would call "inspiring" but then when was it ever? MSN it's not, not that I think MSN is the standard by which all should be judged you understand. That honour goes to iGoogle (now, there's a surprise). However at least the Yahoo Home Page gives you access to the bits of Yahoo that interest you, not that things change much after you've signed in though!
Once you have signed in though, this is the time to go and visit the sections of the Yahoo website where you play. The list on the left-hand side gives you the links you need and the one labelled "Yahoo! Mail" even tells you if you have unread mail waiting for you, so let's go there first. Hovering the cursor over the mail link pops up a window in the middle of the screen showing the mail in your Inbox and giving Yahoo a chance to remind you that you can use Yahoo as a gathering point for your Google and AOL mail as well, though why you would want to I can't imagine!
Clicking on the mail link takes you to the Yahoo Mail section and, like many of it's competitors, Yahoo Mail also doubles up as an IM Chat client, though I confess I have never ever used this feature. The initial page is the What's New page and is tabbed as is now becoming the norm. The second tab is your Inbox and this operates more or less like just about any webmail service.
I don't generally access my Yahoo eMail from the Yahoo website: I access it with the Portable version of the Thunderbird email client. I access it via POP mail but I have found this very unreliable. There can be days at a time where you are unable to access your email account although you can still access it by webmail.
What isn't at all clear is how you get out of here, back to the rest of Yahoo and especially to your MyYahoo customised webpage. There's no direct link to MyYahoo as there is on many other Yahoo pages, thus showing one of my biggest complaints about Yahoo, a complete lack of consistency across the site. What is bizarre is that if you click "Sign Out" at the top left of the page you will be taken to the page you were at when you first signed in and at the top it will say "Hi, username" and invite you to Sign Out again, as though you were still signed in! So, are you in or out? Clearly Yahoo is very confused on the subject.
You don't find out until you try to visit another section of Yahoo, such as Groups. Click on that link (View Yahoo Sites > Groups) and instead of seeing a list of the groups of which you are a member, you will see nothing. A clue as to what is happening is to the right, where it asks if you want to join Groups or are already a member! You click "Already a member" and it invites you to sign in again, so confirming what we guessed, Yahoo hasn't a clue what's really going on!
The clue to this conundrum on the Mail page is over on the right, next to the search box. Here Yahoo has decided to implement a drop-down box labelled, "Yahoo". Clicking on the down-arrow offers you only the choice of Yahoo Home, Sports, Finance or News. At least Home will take you back to the start, where you can choose any of the other sections, without signing yourself off, or not, as the case may be! However, it does so, not by closing your Mail page but by opening up a new tab for the link. You now have Yahoo in two places!
When you get into the Groups section without accidentally signing yourself out, you will be presented with a list of all the Yahoo Groups of which you are a member plus a suggestion of other types of groups you may wish to join. Immediately you notice the different design of the Group pages. Here at last at the top on the left are the quick links you really wish appeared on all the other Yahoo pages: Yahoo UK & Ireland, MyYahoo and Mail.
Most of the Groups work much the same way. Each is designed for the purpose of enabling members to post and read messages, post files and photos and so on. The Freecycle and Freegle groups, of which I'm a member, are moderated so any messages you post will be vetted before they appear.
If you post a photo to be included in your message then you can include a link to it but it will only be visible within that group. If you want to post the same message to multiple groups and want to use the same photo, you will still have to upload the photo to the photo section of each group individually. It's probably better to upload it to something like Flikr or SkyDrive and include a link to there.
So, finally we get a chance to click on MyYahoo and go to our own personal Yahoo webpage. You can get here also from the Home Page by hovering the cursor over View Yahoo Sites, as you did to get to the Groups section, and in the table presented you will also find MyYahoo. This is your own personal Mashup and if you're not impressed with the default content then at least you can tailor it to your own preferences.
I must admit that the Finance section of Yahoo is one of its best features. It is very well laid out, contains vast amounts of useful information and has very good stocks and shares information. I use this quite often.
However, overall I have to say that Yahoo disappoints. Mainly the problem I have with it is its inconsistent presentation and operation. There is also clearly some programming glitches as when it seems to mistake whether or not you are signed in or out of Yahoo, depending upon exactly how you went about moving from one part of the site to another, in the absence of the direct links that really ought to be there but aren't.
At least there's a "Send Feedback" link on the Home Page and I have used this to make my feelings known, not that I expect that to do any good, but it's great to get things off your chest.
Isn't that what Dooyoo's for?
Summary: An outdated and outgunned Internet service