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May 19

The Problem With Yahoo! and Ideas for Improvement

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The problem with Yahoo!

Yahoo! seems to be losing more and more market share each year.  It no longer seems to be the internet leader that it once was.  Yahoo! has a problem.  As a long time user of Yahoo!, I have noticed a few changes that could be driving some customers away, and I also have a couple of ideas that could help them to make their user experience a more positive one.

Advertisements are EVERYWHERE on Yahoo!

I am not sure precisely when I started to notice this, but Yahoo! sure does have a lot of advertisements (and they seem to be adding more and more all the time).  It has too many ads.

Link to a timely and important article on Yahoo! and what do you get?  An advertisement; not just a banner ad or a link, but a whole video commercial (oftentimes 30 seconds long).   This adds to the whole disease of triviality with which we now treat “news”.  Murder?  Just watch this funny little ad about how how insecure someone feels and how their life could be turned around by using this new shampoo, next, listen to the horrific details of the murder.  A new shampoo and murder somehow get linked together.  This trivializes the importance of the ‘news’ message.

This is a relatively recent development at Yahoo!, and a very negative change in my view.  Higher volume posts get linked with higher volume advertisements.  As such, the more news worthy and item is, the more trivialized it becomes. Here’s an idea for improvement – stop posting so many ads, Yahoo!

Yahoo! Answers

The problem with Yahoo! Answers is not so much the answers, but the questions.  I see practically countless questions about “I want to kill myself, what should I do?” or “Am I pretty enough?”, or most recently, “How do I get semen out of cat fur?”.  These types of questions are best dealt with by professionals.  I feel saddened hearing about these serious psychological issues almost endlessly on Yahoo! Answers.  Considering the plethora of “I need help” messages on Yahoo! Answers, perhaps Yahoo! could make a Help or referral service available to these people?  They could also redirect these types of questions to an alternative (perhaps a Yahoo!-owned site) that is qualified and capable of dealing with these serious issues.

Now, I would like to think that many of these posts are ‘attention grabbers’ that are meant to capture responses.  Even so, the fact that someone feels the need to talk about, and generate this attention, also suggests that they might benefit from some help.  Yahoo, you have desperate people crying out for help, why not take a leadership role and redirect these people to people who can really help them?  I am sure that there are many potential affiliates that would be willing to help these people.  You could be a part of solving this problem and improve your use experience dramatically.

You Post Many Articles Without Pictures or Links

Okay, so I read about how stunning a gown is, or how sexy he or she looked at that party, or how outrageous something is, and I link to the page.  Unfortunately, there are often no related pictures or video links on Yahoo!  Well, I ask myself, why did I even bother linking to Yahoo!?  I could have simply done another type of search and linked to pictures or video directly.  This is a big problem with Yahoo!

An Idea for Improvement – Please, Yahoo!, if you are going to tell me how silly or marvelous some celebrity looked, show me the image or the video that you are talking about.  In effect, you actually drive your users to other sites and sources to find the content that you are promoting.  This just doesn’t seem to make much sense from a business and user experience viewpoint.

Posts on Posts

I have to say that I have never seen a more motley and inflammatory group of comments on Yahoo! posts than I have seen anywhere else.  It appears that there is oftentimes no room for actual informed and sustained discussion.  It seems that a large number of Yahoo! users (most commonly shielded under an anonymous id) want to make inflammatory, racist, and or intentionally ignorant (ignore the oxymoron for a moment) comments, just to increase the number of responses (positive or negative) that they receive.  This seems to work against intelligent and informed debate to me.

Here is an ideas for improvement:  Perhaps you could consider moderating your comments more effectively and/or eliminating anonymous accounts or usernames.  This does not mean wholesale censorship, but it does present a gentle hand in guiding useful and productive discussion and moderating inflammatory trash.  As it is, I don’t feel comfortable responding to most anything on Yahoo!  For a long-time user of Yahoo! like myself to say this, this is a problem that you must solve.

Summary

Yahoo! you are appearing desperate to me.  You are seemingly striving to increase revenue by increasing the number of ads that your users need to watch (often full 30 second commercials), allowing each and every silly question to be posted on your Answers page, posting articles with no pictures or video to back up your article headings, and permitting asinine and intentionally inflammatory comments to be posted to your posts.

Your Yahoo! email and news services used to be top-notch.  This is a big part of the reason why you became so successful so early on in the internet universe.  Time to go back to the basics:  give people a reason to visit your site, and not be frustrated by it.  Many of your recent decisions are compelling me to look to alternatives.  Focusing on short-term results by increasing your ads, for example, could actually work against you in the long-term.  Go back to giving people a reason to exclaim Yahoo! when visiting your site.  My two (or maybe three) cents.  I would welcome a response to share with my readers.

Do You have any suggestions for Yahoo?  How could they do things better?  

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Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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2 comments

  1. James Molet (SavvyJames)

    The truth is I have not used Yahoo! – beyond email – in years. For whatever reason (the layout, the interface, the color scheme??) it has never appealed to me; it has never been a site where I spend a lot of time. Based on your observations of their current state of affairs, it looks like I don’t have any reason to give them a look or try.

  2. Jason

    Thanks, James.

    You’re not really missing much. Google (as you know) can do all that and more. The most frustrating part is that I have forwarded these suggestions to Yahoo! and haven’t even received a reply. I have just about had enough Yahoo! I think I’ll just put retirementsavvy.net as my homepage.

    Cheers, Jason

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