Yahoo! behaving badly. Again.

In July 2007, Yahoo! gave users of it’s Yahoo! Photos service just three months to retrieve their pictures before closing the service and deleting all of the unclaimed images. As recently as December 2008, I was still getting comments on my post about it from unhappy people who had entrusted photos to Yahoo! and had only just discovered that their archive had vanished. I thought that Yahoo!’s behaviour in closing their photo service was pretty shoddy. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t stop accepting new uploads, and delete people’s photos piecemeal, as and when they had been transferred to Flickr or some other photo service. For such a large company to close a service with so little communication to users and such a short time frame for those affected to act was incomprehensible.

That was eighteen months ago, so obviously things have changed at Yahoo!, right? They’ve learnt that data portability and clear, timely communications are important, right? I mean, they wouldn’t repeat such mistake would they? Summarily shutting down a service with almost no notice?

Sadly, yes. They would.

Three days ago I got this email:

Yahoo! Briefcase Is Closing - Yahoo! get it wrong again

I very nearly deleted it as spam, because it had no content apart from the two attachments. But, curious to know if it really was an official email, I took a closer look at the headers, then clicked “View” for the first “noname” attachment. I got this:

Yahoo! Briefcase closing attachment

I checked out the links and yes, this is legit. This is the email that Yahoo! has sent its Yahoo! Briefcase users in order to tell them that all the files they had kept online are going to be toast at the end of the month. An empty email with two identical “noname” attachments. Well done Yahoo!, I think you’ve just earnt the first Strange Attractor Fuckwit of the Year 2009 Award. And it’s only February.

Unlike Yahoo! Photos, Yahoo! aren’t suggesting an alternative service, and they’re only giving users one month instead of three to get their stuff out. I only have one file in Yahoo! Briefcase, but that’s neither here nor there. It could have been something important and I could easily have deleted the email from Yahoo! as spam.

Why have Yahoo! not given people more notice? Why did their ill-conceived email have no content? Why put all the content in a couple of attachments? Why delete people’s data instead of archiving it until people can delete it themselves?

I’m not even going to get into asking why Yahoo! have ditched this service, instead of polishing it up and making it suitable for use in today’s cloud computing world. I’m just stunned that, once again, Yahoo! has shown such astonishing arrogance and disinterest in their users’ needs. Instead of learning from the closure of Yahoo! Photos and doing a better job this time, they’ve actually taken a step backwards.

Shame on you, Yahoo!.

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