Yahoo Groups

Review Summary

The Grandparent of Online Social Networking Isn't Aging Well
Cost Info: 
Ease of Use, Millions of People Familiar With It, Reliable Mailing List
No Web 2.0 Social Networking Pull, Unclear Future Regarding Upgrades, Mostly a Mailing List with some Attached Bells and Whistles
Editor Rating: 

Millions of people still use the aging veteran that is YahooGroups. Along with GoogleGroups, YahooGroups is a bit of a legacy application sitting here amongst the other shiny new platforms. Despite being one of the originators of web-based online groups, YahooGroups still looks and functions much the same as it has for years. Recognizing a need to modernize, an attempt was made to re-furbish the site last year, only to be met by a backlash from current users. It seems that Yahoo, in their efforts to join the Web 2.0 crowd, were going to do away with some must have features for some very large groups. An apparent result of their inability to win over converts, their efforts were discontinued in January of this year.

Still, for many groups where a "full-blown" social community is overkill and especially for those who are more comfortable with mailing lists, Yahoo remains the group platform of choice. Essentially, a YahooGroup is just a mailing list that is accessible via the web and has some other applications/features pasted on. Many of those are features that are integral to groups and have lived on in the newer iterations of groupware. To be sure, the mailing list is the strongest feature of YahooGroups. Most of the newer platforms rely on users responding to email notifications of new content by heading to a web site to reply. YahooGroup's strength is that users have a choice between directly replying to the email or doing so through the group interface. I find it likely that, as soon as there is a solid social network hosting site featuring all the new desired features that also allows direct replies via email, there will be a mass migration and YahooGroups will fade away. That's all assuming, of course, that Yahoo never follows through on improving their offering.

It's unclear whether Yahoo has decided to step back and take another look at a better way to upgrade. Perhaps they've decided to leave that which is still working for so many people alone. In the meantime, if your group really just needs an archived mailing list with a few added features, YahooGroups may be your solution.


Significant Feature Notes

Resources - Help section.

Pricing – Free, Advertising support (mostly through email placement)

General Use - User Friendly. Comfort zone for those desiring their communication through email. Since most communication happens through email, there's no impetus to drive users to the web site to increase social interaction through other tools/features.

Admin - Send "blasts" to all members regardless of notification settings. Ability to control permissions for each feature. No creation of additional roles beyond Administrator, Moderator and Member.

Layout - Only colors and group logo can be modified.

Forums - Really a mailing list that's accessible via the web, and only one available per group.

Events - Allows for recurring Events. RSVP application is available, but doesn't integrate with regular events. Creates it's only events which cannot be recurring and do not appear on the group calendar.


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Blast From the Past