15 December 2020

Requiem for YahooGroups

YahooGroups, one of the largest public mailing-list servers on the Internet, is closing permanently on 15 December 2020, marking the end of an era in computer communications.

Mailing lists are one of the oldest communications tools on the Internet, allowing easy many-to-many communications. They are a tool for online discussions whose potential has never been fully realised. The concept is simple: instead of sending an e-mail to a bunch of different people, and hoping that copies of their replies will all be seen of all of them, you send your e-mail to the listserver, which distributes it to all members, and replies are also sent to the list server, which also distributes them to all the members.

The snag was that you had to run a server to set up a mailing list, so most were run by universities or business firms that ran their own servers. But then some people started making public mailservers available. One of these was E-groups, which was eventually taken over by Yahoo! and became YahooGroups. Later GoogleGroups offered a similar service, but GoogleGroups has been plagued by spam, and many groups have been totally hijacked by spammers, which Google does little to discourage.

Yahoo! initially made some very useful enhancements to YahooGroups, providing ancillary web services, but unfortunately around 2014 some new techo-whizzkid tried to improve them. ignoring the old adage "If it ain't broke don't fix it" and YahooGroups lost a lot of functionality, but the core mailing list function still worked. Nevertheless many YahooGroups users migrated to a new public listserver, groups.io, which made some improvements to the original YahooGroups concept.

So now Yahoo!, which has a history of buying up new ideas, mangling them into uselessness, and then closing them down, has finally decided to close YahooGroups completely. 

As a result of the closure I have moved several of the groups that I used to run on YahooGroups to the listserver at groups.io, and invite anyone who is interested in any of these topics to join them:

  • Christianity and Society -- for discussing how Christians interact with society around them, including art, literature, philosophy, current affairs, politics, and mission, evangelism and missiology
  • Inklings - specifically for discussions of literature and theology, with special reference to the Oxford Inklings, and members can also discuss their own writing, especially in genres used by the Oxford Inklings
  • Orthodox Missiology -- mission, evangelism and missiology in the Orthodox Church
  • Off Topic -- for anything that might be off-topic in more specialised groups and general chit-chat with friends and friends of friends
  • New Religious Movements -- an academic group for those studying new religious movements (started in the last 200 years). It was started by Prof Irving Hexham and originally hosted by the University of Calgary.
  • Family History and genealogy -- there are groups for discussing families such as the Growdon and Ellwood families and also one for discussing African genealogy and family history in general -- the entire continent.

Click on any of the links above to learn more about that particular group and apply to join if you are interested.

Some History 

Back in the late 1980s some improvements were made to the mailing list format in BBS networks that used Fidonet technology. In BBS "echo conferences" as they were called, the poster's initials were shown, so in long multiway conversations it was easier to see who had said what in reply to whom. Unfortunately dial-up BBS networks transmission was inadequate, and it was replaced by the TCP/IP technology of the Internet, with a consequential reversion to the old mailing list format, where, in order to see who said what you have to count reply quote marks -- > is replying to >> who in turn is replying to >>>

Nevertheless, for longer multiway discussions are vastly superior to web discussion boards, like those on sites like Facebook, or blog comments.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails