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Tag: blogging

Yahoo 360… Again

Two of our Yahoo 360 bloggers have managed to get through on the telephone to Matt Warburton, the Yahoo Community Manager who announced on the Yahoo 360 Team Blog that the service would “transition.” Although they didn’t get more detail from Warburton, the sense I get from the reports of their conversations is that Yahoo really has no idea what direction a blogging or social networking site will take, or even if they will retain the services as part of their suite.

This is not good news for us. It means that Yahoo is committed to shutting down Yahoo 360, but that the company has no plan, as yet, for what it will do next.

Our blogging colleague Mr. E spoke with Warburton, and apparently talked in detail about what went wrong with Yahoo 360. Warburton mentioned the plan for a universal profile, the same thing referred to in the Yahoo Team blog and in Jerry Yang’s blog. Jerry Yang is Yahoo’s CEO. (Instead of blogging on Yahoo 360, he maintains the official Yahoo blog on WordPress.com. How’s that for confidence in and support of one’s own product?) Mr. E pointed out that Yahoo 360 was supposed to have been the universal profile, and hence the name “Yahoo! 360.” Warburton, who only came on board with the company in April, was unaware of this.

Mr. E got information out of Warburton that I felt was significant. He said that there would be a transition to another blogging platform within Yahoo and possibly tools to export a 360 blog to third party providers.

Tools to export blogs to other sites is definitely good news for those of us with a lot of blogs. There are some who have 600 or more blogs. Moving them one by one to another site would be horrific. However, moving the blogs with comments intact is another issue entirely.

Many of us want to be sure to preserve the comments. Lively debate, story lines, and just plain old conversation took place in the comments to our blogs, and we want to preserve that as well. Some of us regularly get in excess of 50 comments on posts. Losing the discussions that take place in the comments is almost worse than losing the blog itself – that’s where things often get heated and interesting.

When our blogging colleague Carl spoke with him, Warburton made it clear that there was no question but that Yahoo 360 was closing. There is apparently no plea, no argument, nothing that can persuade Yahoo not to close 360.

Carl concludes that Yahoo may realize that the manner in which they announced 360’s demise was not handled as well as it might have been. Apparently they are well aware of the displeasure among 360 users. A check of the 1100+ comments to the Yahoo Team Blog clearly indicates cries of outrage, grief, and outright panic by 360 users, so if the team reads the comments they certainly should be aware of it. We, the customers and users of the Yahoo product, the people Yahoo’s advertisers want to reach, are in the dark.

The situation is frustrating. It is difficult. Yahoo has blown it. Yahoo’s disorganization, and yes, its lack of a plan to fulfill the vision outlined in Jerry Yang’s Yodel Anecdotal blog post October 16, affects us all in a negative way. Change is hard enough without the change being to the complete unknown and unknowable.

I’ve been advocating that we stay put, maintain our social network here in Yahoo 360, and wait to see what Yahoo rolls out next. I’m still of half a mind to do that. With every new dribble of information, though, I’m more and more inclined to throw in the towel.

I take that back. If I’m to hitchhike out of here, I need my towel. I’m going to Multiply.com. I don’t need a babelfish to understand the platform, and it offers everything 360 does and even includes some of the features we’ve asked Yahoo to provide.

I’m going to be in both places for the foreseeable future. The foreseeable future isn’t very far away, since Yahoo plans to close 360 by early 2008. Until then, though, I will stay here. I will blog here. I will also be on Multiply and WordPress, and I may get active again on my Blogger.com account, just because I like Google products.

I encourage everyone on my friends list to follow me to Multiply.com. As of today, about a third of you already have. I hope to see the rest soon. I want us to be able to stay together.

Tomorrow, I promise, I won’t post more of this news. Tomorrow, Wench’s Virgin Training School has news of its own to announce….

A Letter From Yahoo

I’m going to let you read my mail.

A few days ago, before the most recent blog they posted, I went to the Beta feedback page for Yahoo 360 and sent the team a message.

My message to the Yahoo 360 Team:

Yahoo 360 offers a unique combination of social networking and serious blogging without all the aural and visual assaults of MySpace and its ilk. MASH, on the other hand, is an insufficient substitute. It is lightweight, obviously geared toward kids (they have a deletion link that says “this is fugly”, for Pete’s sake), and doesn’t offer the substance of 360. Both products have their niches, I’m sure. I’m rather fond of Yahoo 360 and would hate to see it be discontinued.

I would like to see Yahoo take 360 seriously. For almost a year I have been trying to get my reviews on my 360 page to reappear. I cannot get my Flickr photostream to display. Yahoo has been completely unresponsive and unhelpful in resolving these problems.

The frequent delays in mail delivery are absurd. If the 360 mailbox won’t work, then simply link it to a regular Yahoo email inbox. Occasionally the wrong blog is displayed on people’s top pages. Quick comments disappear and reappear with alarming capriciousness. The time to load pages is agonizingly slow more often than not.

The fact that 360 has remained “Beta” for two years, and that these recurring problems aren’t being addressed, leads to the inevitable rumors that the service will be discontinued soon. Yahoo is doing itself a disservice by not supporting its own product.

If Yahoo wants to charge for premium services that might allow for Yahoo 360 to improve, it could make the whole thing more profitable. I’d be willing to pay for a more powerful blogging interface, for page counters that allowed me to see who was reading my blogs and not just how many people clicked on my top page, for controls that allowed me to set individual blog entries to private, “friends only” or public, for lists that are longer and more customizable, and for the ability to place links to the blogs of others on 360 on my top page. Unlimited RSS feeds would permit the last to be implemented.

Basically, Yahoo needs to either make a commitment to 360 or shut it down. One way or another, the issues will be resolved.

***

The Team responded shortly after posting its blog two days ago:

Hello Anne,

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! 360.

So you’ve heard Yahoo! 360 is closing? Well it’s true. After careful consideration, we have decided to close the Yahoo! 360 sites in early 2008. We always strive to provide you with the best services possible and we’ll be doing that throughout this transition.

We realize that you, our 360 consumers, have put a lot of effort into building sites and sharing these with your community. As we work to fully package migration options for your social network on the Yahoo! suite of services, Yahoo! 360 will remain an active vibrant site for your network of friends. We make the following three commitments:

– We will preserve your 360 blog content and community;
– We will put the right mechanisms in place to move your blog content;
– We will give you ample notification before this transition begins in early 2008.

We at Yahoo! remain dedicated to social networking and community building businesses worldwide. You’ll be hearing more details from us soon. In the meantime, more detailed information is available on our 360 Product Page at:

http://blog.360.yahoo.com/product_360

Note: If you have not checked in a while, please update your email information to ensure you receive all communications from Yahoo! 360. To update your email address, click My Account at the top of any Yahoo! 360 page. Verify your password, and click Edit next to Member Information to update your alternate email address(es), if necessary.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! 360.

Regards,

Kyle

Yahoo! 360 Customer Care

For assistance with all Yahoo! services, please visit:

http://help.yahoo.com/

New and Improved Yahoo! Mail – better than ever!

+++++++++++

There is hope. Yahoo may indeed make things better. While we prepare our contingency plans, let’s remember that we may not have to implement Plan B after all.

Life After Yahoo 360: No, I’m Not Going to Cut and Run. Yet.

The Yahoo 360 Team’s blog yesterday said a lot more than it really said. Yahoo is “transitioning” 360 in early 2007 to “a more integrated Yahoo! experience.” On the surface, that sounds like a good idea. But the next sentence says something ambiguous: we “can still use all the features of Yahoo! 360 until this transition takes place in early 2008.”

What does this mean? It means to me that Yahoo 360 will be absorbed into something different. It won’t exist as we know it today. We may or may not be familiar with the new features, and we may or may not like them. The new Yahoo profile/blogging platform may be good, and it may not.

The team’s blog goes on to say that “Yahoo! 360 will transition to a new universal Yahoo! profile that will be closely tied to other relevant services across Yahoo!, and will include improved blogging capabilities.” Improved blogging capabilities are definitely a good thing. I’ve thought for a long time that Yahoo 360 could stand to improve its blogging interface. Most of us compose offline because there’s no way to save drafts of blogs, and the way we have to insert photos is cumbersome at best. A spell check would be nice, too. Yes, improvements to 360’s blogging capabilities is definitely good news.

Yahoo wants to keep us here, and assures us that our blogs, friends lists, and other content will be moved smoothly to the new platform. That’s good, but the question remains: What will that platform be?

Many of us who have looked at MASH were horrified right from the start. I’ve stayed and added and removed modules, but I’m closing my profile down. I’m really disgusted with it. If you haven’t seen it, click the link to my MASH profile and surf around. There are some really silly things going on there. It’s just too juvenile for me. I really don’t want to be associated with the word “fugly” and there’s no way to remove it from the page. It’s puerile. I’m 45, for pete’s sake. I don’t say “fugly.” And I really don’t need another pet. Two huge dogs and two little cats are plenty for me. If Yahoo thought MASH would appeal to the more mature 360 market, they were sadly mistaken in my humble opinion.

Because of the rumors of 360’s demise, and frankly because of its limitations, a number of us have been looking at other blogging and networking sites, hoping to find a place that better fulfills our needs. With the news that 360 is going to be replaced with something different, it only seems prudent.

For a long time I’ve cross-posted my blogs on WordPress.com. I like the blog interface. It has limitations, too, but all in all it’s easy to use and the site itself is easy on the eye. It’s not a social networking site, though, and I miss the comments that get made on my blogs here on Yahoo 360. While it may be a good place to park a backup of my blog, it’s probably not where I will end up permanently.

I’ve also cross-posted on Google’s Blogspot and on Live Spaces. Blogspot is very similar to WordPress, and has the added benefit of being a Google product. Blogspot has no social networking. The networking on Live Spaces is so difficult to do that I gave up, even though I did connect with a 360 friend and another person there. I had a MySpace page but closed it down several months ago. Honestly, the noise and the glitter graphics got to me. It seemed juvenile, although not so much as MASH. MySpace is also cumbersome to use, and full of spam.

I’ve looked at other social networking sites. Hoverspot.com was awful. There were more trolls and troglodytes there than on Yahoo IM. Someone told me about Hot or Not. Talk about a meat market! Facebook has been in the news a lot lately. I’ve connected there with real life friends, college classmates, law school classmates, as well as my teenage nephews. It’s lightweight, though, for the serious blogging I want to do. It has some features I like, but not enough to hold my interest. I’ll probably keep my profile there, but Facebook won’t be my blog home.

As I was reading the comments on the most recent entries of the Yahoo!360 team blog, I kept seeing references to a site called Multiply.com. I went there, and I have been pleased with it so far. I’ve sent everyone on my list an invitation. If you don’t get it, it’s either because I don’t have your email address or it went to your spam box.

Last night I was lying at the edge of this Multiply.com pool and testing the water with my fingers, not sure I want to risk getting off-balance by dipping a toe.

I found that I could upload my photos, which is more than I’ve been able to do on Yahoo 360 for quite some time. I can’t get my Flickr photostream to work here at all, and I’ve even paid for an account. Go figure. Uploading the photos was kind of slow, and belatedly I realized that I was making a new photo album when I intended to add to the one I had already created, but perhaps there is a way to combine albums. I’ll poke around and find out.

There is a place on Multiply.com for reviews. My reviews disappeared from my Yahoo 360 page almost a year ago and repeated complaints to customer service have been politely ignored with the same form letter at least six times. I’ve given up.

There is a place to add music to a profile page. I’m not sure I like that, unless it has a start button that a visitor will have to hit to play the music. I listen to my own music as I surf the Internet and when I’m mellowing to the soulful sounds of Miles Davis I just hate being blasted out of my complacency by Rob Zombie. Don’t get me wrong: Rob Zombie has his place, just not in my listening zone. At least, not for long, and not involuntarily. I don’t even like it when people put imeem music in their blogs unless it’s one I can control myself. Probably my migraines have something to do with that – startlement hurts when my head throbs. So does cacophony.

The migraines probably also have something to do with why I hate glitter graphics, and since html is allowed in guestbook entries here on multiply.com, I’ll undoubtedly see more of them than I like. Some of my headaches are brought on by the same things that induce seizures in epileptics. Windshield wipers, strobe lights, flashing icons, and glitter graphics all fall into that category. Maybe I’ll post a notice begging for a glitter-free zone on my page there. I did that on MySpace, but it was largely ignored.

I like Multiply’s blog interface. I’ve never figured out how to do bullets and numbered lists on the Yahoo 360 blog, so that will be a nice feature. I want to explore the “attachment” feature, too. I’m not sure what it is.

The photo interface on the blog looks to be much easier than Yahoo’s. I can add a photo directly from the web, from my computer, or from a photo album I’ve already put on Multiply.com. I can apparently put the photos wherever I want in my blog, too. I like that.

The polling possibilities have up to ten choices. If we’re voting in a blog contest that’s not enough, but frankly I like contests where everyone just participates. I’ve not got a competitive bone in my body. Really. Ten choices is plenty for most purposes.

It’s possible to import blogs from several blogging services, but unfortunately Yahoo 360 isn’t one of them. The Multiply team’s blog says they are different because they care and they respond. I’ll test their truthfulness by asking them to figure out a way for us to import our 360 blogs before the service shuts us down. The comments to blogs will undoubtedly be lost, but maybe there’s a way to preserve even them. We won’t know until we ask. Maybe if enough of us ask, we’ll actually receive. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

Speaking of comments, Multiply.com has a nifty feature called “Live Replies.” According to the FAQ section, Live Replies will cause comments to appear in real time, without us having to refresh the page to see them. When we’re having a blog party that will mean that the comments will work like a huge group chat! Speaking as one who has been known to blow up the occasional blog, I can say for sure that that will be a blast!

Another thing about the comments is that they allow replies to specific comments, and the person posting the comment as well as the page owner can delete it. There is a spell check on the comment dialog box, and even after posting a comment the comment can be edited. What a nice feature! I haven’t seen that one anywhere else.

Today as more of my friends accepted my invitation to Multiply.com, I’ve discovered that I can set email alerts to receive notice about changes to people’s pages, and I can reply to the changes right there in my email. That means if someone comments on my blog or my guestbook, I can see it in my email and post a reply from the email, never having to go to the blog at all. Likewise, if someone posts new pictures or a blog, I can get an instant email and check it out. I’ve enjoyed this today, but it’s been a slow day at work. On a busier day, it might be a distraction.

There’s a networking option for creating groups of users with similar interests and affiliations. That is a good feature of Facebook and MySpace that I can see being put to good use here.

The links module on the top page works like a blogroll. Another thing to ask the Multiply.com team about is adding RSS feeds. Links to feed sites will work to an extent, but I like to see changing headlines. That was something that never really satisfied me about Yahoo 360’s feeds. I haven’t dug around the site enough to know if adding other modules to the profile page is possible.

There’s an interesting messaging system, which seems to be similar to the bulletins MySpace does. The nice thing is that you can see messages posted by the community as a whole, by just your closest contacts, or some midrange between the two. Not being a fan of chain mail, I’m not one to read a lot of bulletins and messages, but occasionally there’s an announcement that we want to make to a larger group – something like “Hey, I want to suggest a blog contest” or something like that. Private messages are also possible.

I know there is more to the site, and I just started exploring it last night. So far, Multiply.com gets a tentative thumbs up. We’ll see if it stays that way.

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