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Volume 22 - Page 3 of 7 October 5, 2000
Yahoo kills
Black Tuesday Continued from page 1.
In 1999 Yahoo Inc. purchased Geocities, who in turn had just purchased the highly successful At the time Ringmasters (the volunteers that create, setup and manage the webrings) thought the end had come. It did not. Everything seemed to run better. Investment was made to improve the webring system and everything ran fine until Labor day weekend.

Over the holiday the ring management system was closed down. It reopened on September 5th, the day now known in the webring world as Black Tuesday. Previously Yahoo Inc. had sent letters to the aproximately 80,000 Ringmasters and millions of ring members informing them that they needed to signe up for a "Yahoo ID". A few Ringmasters with active signed up, almost no ring members signed up. Ringmasters knew that very few members maintained their ring records (web and e-mail address) so they recomended to their member NOT to sign up.

The reason was that most Ringmasters considered the YID sign up to be an invasion of privacy.
    The YID requires:
  • Name
  • email address
  • sex
  • birth date
  • birth place
And would be "associated" with the members rings and sites.
Yahoo stated that webrings would not be transfered to the new system unless the Ringmaster "associated" their YID with their ring This was the first lie. All webrings were moved and function in the new system.

The Ringmasters were also told that their forms on their ring home pages would still work. This was the second lie.

A process that Ringmasters were already wary of was already starting out badly. The reopening on Black Tuesday confirmed many fears, it confused many others. In the past Ringmasters had access to the complete ring member records. This was necessary to maintain the integrity of the ring. Web addresses change, email addresses change (5% per month), members lose passwords and forget how to get in to the system. Concienious volunteer Ringmasters contanstantly worked to maintain their ring database. On black Tuesday they were locked out. Ringmasters no longer had access to databases they had created and had been told (in writing) was their domain. Many thought it was a mistake and asked "How and when" they would be let in. No answer.

Other changes included the new "Server Side Navigation Bar", SSNB or "navbar". The SSNB is to replace all the current ring logos and grapical billboards for the rings. The SSNB no longer had a link to the ring home page, instead having three links to Yahoo. The SSNB was also an ugly corporate grey bar that grew from banner size to full page if the member were a member of several rings.

Continued above, see Ringmasters Revolt!

Links to other articles on the subject:
Ringmasters Revolt! Continued from left column.

The Ringmasters were stunned. Since the beginning they had been told that the rings were their domain. They were encouraged to create ring home pages and unique ring navigation blocks with artistic logos or banners. They were encouraged to establish ring home pages that their ring description, rules, signup forms, ring maintence instructions and other service to attract members. What the Ringmaster got in exchange was the little bit of traffic that the ring home draws. What the "host" got was the traffic that used the "list" selection on the NAVBAR. This traffic generated the revenue to make the system work.

But on Black Tuesday ALL the Ringmaster perks that enticed them to setup and maintain their rings were gone! They no longer had access to the databases THEY had created and maintained, their ring home pages (all 80,000) were abandond, the artwork many had spent hours on was being phased out. The system also took away some of the control of accepting members in the ring. The NEW process was backwards. Ringmasters had to accept member sites BEFORE the member installed the NAVBAR.

At first their was a rain of questions. But it quickly became obvious that the Ringmasters were to be taken "out of the loop". Automatic systems were in place to replace them and their rings, their creations were setup to run without them.

Questions became complaints. Yahoo's responses were either form letter replies or silence. Ringmasters started moving their rings to other services or setup their own ring hosting. Some polled members, some did not. Those that polled members got overwhelming response to MOVE, to get away from Yahoo and the YID.

As the month progressed Ringmasters by the tens of thousands were moving their rings. The "other" ring hosts were swamped with new rings and huge volumes of traffic. Ring hosting software became the hot product of the month. But the Ringmasters were not silently leaving. Protests and complaints were continous and LOUD on the official Ringmaster's forum Webringnews. Alternative forums such as eGroups Ring Manager were also floded with posts. Many Ringmasters setup protest rings (on Yahoo) and invited other rings to join their rings.

By the first week of October (time of this writing) Yahoo was finaly reacting to the huge backlash. There were still no answers, however, the only contact point between Yahoo and the Ringmasters was no longer the "official" Webring News. Posts critical of Yahoo were deleted. Protesters (or anyone that asked a serious question) were banned. On October 4th the entire archive of posts going back to the beginning was erased. New posting rules were posted that largely said, "Don't ask questions! Don't make comments"

Yahoo had lied, stonewalled, destroyed documents and was now putting pressure on their Webring News moderator to point that he was acting as paranoid as the corporation itself. Yahoo had screwed up big time. Their "new" webring system that was designed to be a huge demographicly keyed user traking system was a shambles. Any increase in profit had been lost by underestimating the backlash against the YID, Rings leaving and public distain for the high handed tactics.

As soon as it was obvious that the new Y/Ring system was not broke but that most of what was "wrong" was BY DESIGN, we decided to move the rings we managed (The Blacksmith's Ring and Steelworkers Web Ring). We now host them on our own server plus we are picking up a few more. We think this was the best decision for us and our ring members. space

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October 2000 Edition
Comments to: Jock Dempsey
Copyright © 2000 by Jock Dempsey
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