Goodbye Gmail, goodbye Yahoo mail
I think I signed up for Yahoo! Mail about the time it started, about 16-17 years ago. That was when the concept of webmail was relatively new, and it seemed to be a useful service, especially when travelling. Through Yahoo! Mail I was able to keep in touch with family and friends from Greece, Albania, and Italy, sending messages from Internet cafes.
Then they started trying to “improve” it, ignoring the adage “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.”
It became more complex and more difficult to use. Useful functions disappeared, and one never knew whether that was because they had hidden them or abolished them altogether, but looking for them wasted a lot of time.
Then along came Gmail.
Seeing the mess that had been made of Yahoo! Mail, Google cut though the complexity and had an even simpler and less cluttered interface. It lacked a couple of features that Yahoo had (the ability to forward messages as attachments, for example — Gmail could only forward them as quoted text).
But now both of these pioneers of web mail seem to be in competition to make them harder to use. Instead of concentrating on improving the functionality, they have rather concentrated on the “user experience”, and this user’s experience can be summed up in one word — frustration.
They have added lots of bells and whistles, but at the same time they have removed most of the pistons and cylinders. They can do all sorts of fancy things, but getting them to send a plain and simple e-mail message is an exercise in frustration.
Last year our family web pages found a new home. They were originally hosted on Geocities, which was taken over by Yahoo and closed down So we found a new home for them where we set up our own site — khanya.org.za. And one of the facilities the host offers is an e-mail service, which includes webmail. And, oh joy, the Horde webmail editor has all the features that Yahoo! Mail had at its very best, before it sacrificed functionality to “user experience”.
I’m not sure if the editor used in Gmail is the same as that used in Google Groups, but trying to read messages posted by members of Google Groups on Usenet has become extremely difficult, because paragraphs appear as one long line. The only way to make the messages readable to people reading them with proper newsreaders is for the writer to press the Enter key every 60-70 characters to create a new line. It seems that Google is trying to re-introduce the user experience of using a manual typewriter.
So it’s goodbye Yahoo! Mail, goodbye Gmail, hello Horde.
Now, if I’m travelling away from home, that’s what I’ll be using. We won’t be giving the address to the general public (to try to reduce spam), but just give it to family and friends.
If you have our Gmail or Yahoo! Mail address, please remove them. If you would like the new one, please ask.
Oh, and there’s another problem with Yahoo! Mail.
For about 6 months my Yahoo! Mail account did not work at all. I couldn’t log in, I couldn’t receive or send mail. During that time I asked people to use other mail addresses, so that by the time the service was restored (about 5-6 years ago) the only mail there was spam. And even today, the mail there is about 99,5% spam.
So when I look at my Yahoo! Mail mailbox (about once every 3 months or so) the main thing I do is delete the spam. The easiest way to do that is to mark all the mail as spam, and then unmark the one or two messages on the list that might not be spam. But here comes the new enhanced user experience. You can mark 50 messages as spam with one click, but trying to UNmark them doesn’t work. You click on the tick in the box but it won’t go away. Eventually the frustration (that enhanced user experience) becomes too much, and I just mark the whole lot as spam. So if you send me mail to my Yahoo address, the chances are good that it will end up being marked as spam, and then there is the possibility that the address you sent it from will end up on one or more spam black lists. If that happens to you, you can just put it down to experience — the Yahoo! enhanced user experience, of course.