Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo groups’

Alice Bonham Carter, watercolor of schoolroom at Ditcham Grove, Petersfield, 1837

Dear friends and readers,

What miseries enough people on Yahoo groups are experiencing. “My” four listservs have been a bit luckier; nothing has as yet broken and since we seem to get few new people, we are not having as many problems. (See my earlier The debasement of the Yahoo groups.) If more people come on, Yahoo demands all members upgrade or be bounced: punishment for growing.

This is especially for those who have been on Yahoo listservs for a time and have valued the experiences they’ve had, from weeks of listening on and off to four different self-reflexive listservs (for managers, how to fix problems): what is happening is the clever way gov’ts sometimes re-engineer a working social program so it self-destructs. All sorts of breakages are occurring on various listservs; some so bad that the group comes near to being deleted. In some listservs when a new member joins, everyone must upgrade their settings or they end up not being able to post or are bounced off. As moderator you can’t delete the commercials; you have great difficulty moderating (reading someone message and then letting it through or not).

Another brief blog about the attempt to create a situation so an internal dismemberment of these Yahoo groups grinds on: The aim of these ugly commercialized spaces with their dribble of text in the middle of a page surrounded by flashing ads (some pornographic, most reactionary — lots of hatred of Obama and the Affordable Care Act), a gross banner and links to things outside the groups, as well as periodic demands that you re-sign in and attempts to force you to provide profiles of yourself outside your groiups, was clearly to get rid of any sense of a separate community with its own values and friendships apart from a vast commercial sales site. The Yahoo ownership decided that there would be such a howl if they just shut it down; so instead they decided to make all the listserv places ugly, uncomfortable, hard to use; not to fix anything that broke; to make finding archives very difficult. In short make each individual who has stayed for whatever reason begin to dislike the place, be frustrated by it, want to get out him or herself

The aim is succeeding. I own/moderate 4 lists; 2 are carrying on in this much reduced state; only 1 is having group reading and discussions. The other is a feminist group and there are so few places in the world nowadays where you can find serious discussions of women’s writing and the poltics of the lives involved it seems to sustain itself now and again. I am a member of about 7 more. I look in at 3 or 4 of them. Only 1 is carrying on reading and/or talking: a strong fan group, Janeites. They have support outside the list by Janeite communities elsewhere on the Net (blogs) and communities in physical local life and JASNA’s yearly activities (my image of a watercolor from a member of Janeite groups outside the Yahoo list who also belongs to them — I include Austen-l run out of McGill university). My one succeeding group is originally an Anthony Trollope fan group and like the Janeites has support from outside; there are people who love Victorian novels which we also do (and a 19th Century Yahoo listserv carries on elsewhere I’ve noticed).

The heyday of these listserv groups went when blogs grew exponentially and webrings and all sorts of venues, facebook pages are popular (they are more anonymous, an individual is not as easily seen), so a prime activity of many of them went. Not the reason for the activity: which was to be part of a small tribe of like-minded people who shared an interest and outlook. Very important to the isolated individuals of the US culture. So they got rid of the visual community and its supports: archives. I remember when the files function (where you could put essays and columns of interest) no longer worked and then it was declared full forever. The Yahoo management also filter in continual commercials into the dribbles of shared texts. The print on the Yahoo site is so tiny that if you try to copy and paste it anywhere else (say to save or to share) you must make your font of your software very large or it’s garbled text you see.

It is taking more than the management imagined to get people to get off or stop all the people from participating to the extent of looking in every day. But it’s happening. On GroupManagers people are now discussing how they are about to delete their groups. Yes a few are grieving on some of the lists, especially listowner moderators, and they have started up petitions, but apart form the reality that petitions get nowhere without power to punish or make hurt felt by those with power in some way or offer something they want (street riots, clubs with some influence that matters), like newspeople on TV say of the 1.3 million people now cut off from unemployment, the effect on the economy (the rest of us) would be negligible, so the few cries of distress from the tiny amount of people who are getting up petitions and complaining on these 4 listservs, those who care enough to do something is negligible.


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Black-and-white reproduction of Watteau’s Gersaint Shop Sign

Dear friends and readers,

I thought I’d take out time to describe the latest step of the Yahoo management to destroy the Yahoo groups. A few months ago, the management made it impossible for group managers to subscribe anyone: many people have trouble subscribing to Yahoo groups. Now the pages are reconfigured, and the way the emails are set up makes them a minor column in a page of ads, a sliver within a several screens going at once, some of which have neon-like images, all with links, many leading you to places to buy something. Yahoo has done everything possible to marginalize what the individual who wants to be part of a community and communicate with others are here for. Each time I click on a message or say go to the albums, a new commercial message appears and covers most of my screen to the left.

I can see now most functions are there (I’m not sure about the archives of messages and threads over the years), but everything so riddled and shot through with continual large size commercials, whatever of value we put on the pages is degraded, debased. The next step surely is to eliminate the messages altogether or force people to click two or three times through commercials to reach any of the material from friends or acquaintances who share your interest. After all this is often what happens when you are forced to wait for someone to come to a phone after going through a rigmarole of hitting numbers: you get several commercials in your ear, loud.

The messages are also set up differently so the new one in response to a previous does not always appear separately under a new banner but as a follow up to the old. It only appears if you change the header ever so slightly (say get rid of a “re:”). So there may be a new message about a given topic, but you wouldn’t know it if the same header is used — unless you re-clicked on an old one and kept re-clicking. The way I send my emails and have asked others to do, which is first to eliminate all “tails” and only reprint what you are answering at the head of your content, is utterly defeated by this kind of tail making.

Did I say every time you click a new message pops up.

Their response to the complaints about the degradation of the groups sites is to mock and scorn the complainers. For some years on my Women Writers through the Ages we were harassed by the Yahoo management by their declaring we were an “adult” site, re-categorizing us as porn, and then sending porn ads to the site. When you are declared porn, many ISPs won’t send messages from your group to individuals part of the ISP. We did not appear on any lists about women’s art, literature, feminism so we could not get new members. One women on the list-serv finally threatened them with a lawyer, saying it was they who were threatening her daughter (also on the list). It may be coincidence, but after that we were not again so harassed.

Why continue? the reasons that brought me and others there in the first place. To communicate across time and space to people sharing your interests, to make friends, to express yourself, to share information and images and what you have been reading. Over the years I’ve found people like myself who stay on for years and often end up running three listservs. I do. I provide a forum as do they. Three seems to be maximum one can do.

So unless you are attached to an institution, business of some sort, the corporate culture, and can set up your listserv there, or have oodles of time and can run one off your own computer, listserv life will be openly stigmatized. There are blogs, blog rings, website rings, forums, facebook, twitter, but the listserv provides a place for genuine on-going somewhat spontaneous (there must be moderation or the listserv itself degenerates due to psychological cyberspace social dynamics) conversation with people known to one another, in closed circles, really sharing some material.

I remember a few years ago when the Books-on-tape for rental was destroyed. Big companies sold off their stock, especially of classic books, and the new produced CDS were all the latest trash or whatever is popular or has won prizes recently (some of these prestigious ones), and most of it deeply reactionary. The cost can be prohibitive for any classic books you can find and buy; Audible.com is a vast cheat (by the way). What I miss are the middle brow books: the good biography of a minor writer, I remember listening to a book on H.M.S. Beagle, Darwin’s ship, beautifully read. These have mostly vanished. I don’t care for Librivox readings because the people there are so intent on not allowing anyone to make money from their reading at the end of each chapter there is a long statement telling you this reading is supposed to be for free, librivox, who is reading, and it disturbs my reverie. Of the people who can read the book for real (understand its tones and irony), too many over-read, or do the book too dramatically. A noble endeavour marred by self-consciousness and the marketplace it exists inside of.

I did manage to get rid of the hideous aggressively ugly banner art I found at the top of my three listservs. It’s not easy as you must find an image which is wide and low, a banner. I was glad to use a quiet black-and-white of Watteau for Eighteenth Century Worlds. A friend has offered to share her banner photos of French eighteenth century parks and landscapes for my eighteenth century worlds. I found the wide long screen of Sandy Welch’s Jane Eyre (with Ruth Wilson) for Women Writers:


On my tiny Historical Fiction and Film Adaptation blog (Poldark to Austen), I used a favorite still from a montage in Davies’s 1995 P&P: two sisters walking and talking togther, loving friendship, but the heads are just about cut off:


I had to give up Donald Pleasaunce as Mr Harding playing the cello for Trollope19thCStudies altogether, as it’s not configured at all appropriately (you can see only the middle of the actor’s body), nor are my images of Trollope usable. I will not be putting images into the albums any more. As I say I cannot yet find how to reach the archives.

The question as I see it is, when will the greed of the Yahoo management and their indifference to their users go too far, re-arrange the website to the point where the users find they have no enjoyment or use from the site and leave? when will they insult and offend just that much too far? The key here is the management wants to get rid of the groups. Looking for (and not finding) where the bottom half of the message I used to change as it announced what we were reading and picture was, I was directed to “switch” my email from yahoo so I would get everything directly; i.e., not realize it was coming from any group.


P.S. I am aware there is a commercial message of some sort at the bottom of this wordpress blog. I can’t see it. I am now being asked to pay $30 over and above the yearly fee (which comes to more than $50 at this point) for each of my blogs to prevent commercial messages from appearing. I paid $30 for the first (Ellen and Jim have a blog, two) thinking it would cover all three, but I will not pay $90 over and above 3 times $50.

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