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.