Archive for February, 2010

Whither Yahoo?

February 3, 2010

Let me say, right off the bat, that when I write “Yahoo” I mean the company that calls itself “Yahoo!”. (Here I deliberately put the period after the quote, contrary to US custom, for better legibility.) If I were to write about the author whose book covers carry the name “bell hooks” I would refer to her as Bell Hooks. Companies and people have every right to use written language any way they wish, but they have no right to keep others from following thle punctuation and capitalization rules that they’re comfortable with. I think that Whither Yahoo!? would look silly.

I was a Yahoo user, almost a devotee, for a decade, almost from its beginning. I used it as a search engine before Google, and continued to do so after Google came in, mainly because I liked the Yahoo homepage, from the top of which I could easily link to TV listings for my area, weather, finance (at the time l was deeply — too deeply! — into the stock market) and so on, and when my wife decided to open an e-mail account she did it (on my recommendation) on Yahoo.

But strange things seem to have happened to the Yahoo homepage in the last couple of years. When, in 2008, we moved from Berkeley to El Cerrito and I needed to re-customize the TV listings, I found that the link for doing so didn’t work. Last October we traveled to Europe and, instead of frequenting Internet caf├ęs, I used a netbook with the Wi-Fi service of the hotels where we stayed, and I discovered that www.yahoo.com automatically redirected to fr.yahoo.com in France and es.yahoo.com in Spain. Typing “us.yahoo.com” did not help matters, and the world map on the international page allowed me to get the local page for every country showing a link, except the United States. I had always depended on Yahoo for getting news from back home, and now I was frustrated.

And now the Yahoo homepage no longer has links to weather, finance or mail at the top of the page. Since I like to know the weather forecast for the day when I first open my computer, I have made my local Yahoo weather page into my homepage. That page has the Yahoo search box, as well as buttons for mail, finance, sports and so on right above it. But I find myself, for no good reason, using Google more and more for my searches. I never found Google any better than Yahoo (I remember a time when Google worked for Yahoo! [this is my exclamation mark, not Yahoo’s]), but since I have adopted “google” (uncapitalized!) as a verb, and since I am somewhat of a literalist, I tend to use it literally.

Alas, poor Yahoo. I knew it well.

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