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Yahoo! The Internet

Yahoo Shuttering Its Web Directory 116

An anonymous reader writes You may or may not remember this, but before the advent of reliable search engines, web listings used to be a popular way to organize the web. Yahoo had one of the more popular hierarchical website directories around. On Friday, as part of its on-going streamlining process, Yahoo announced that their 20-year-old web directory will be no more: "While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they're passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory."
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Yahoo Shuttering Its Web Directory

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  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Saturday September 27, 2014 @09:46PM (#48011693) Homepage Journal
    Last time I saw the Yahoo Web Directory was circa 1999 -- and it was an outmoded next to useless service back then compared to Yahoo search (which was top dog at the time) I had just assumed they'd shuttered it, what with Google kicking their ass so hard that they all but left the Search market to focus on acquiring trendy startups in other areas so they could run them into the same sort of irrelevancy they did with Search.
    • I don't think Yahoo was ever top dog search?

      I remember switching from Altavista to Google sometime around 98/99. WebCrawler before that? Yahoo is one of those companies I've never understood why people used their products. Or, for that matter, how they're still around today.

      • Alta Vista used to be top dog in search. Then in 94/95 they decided to rank paid advertisers at the top of searches. I and many others dropped AV and went looking for alternatives. Google came out the winner. I never did get into Yahoo's categorization, always preferred to just search on what I was looking for.
        • by mgf64 ( 1467083 )
          Which is, interestingly, precisely what Google is doing today.
        • Google was also a winner for me because of its clean single line text input for search. No images, no clutter, no links on the page - in the age of a 9600 baud modem the less clutter on the page the better. That was why *I* swapped from alta-vista to google. Alta-vista had started presenting a 'portal page' which was all the rage back then, and I preferred the quick, efficient search from google.

    • by kmoser ( 1469707 )
      Why would they get rid of it? Yahoo's web directory provides valuable spider bait for Google and other real search engines.
  • Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Tablet focused design has ruined the web

    • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Saturday September 27, 2014 @11:24PM (#48012027) Homepage Journal

      Tablet focused design has ruined the web

      Nah; the people who still use the web haven't seen much of anything "ruined". They see the web they've long seen, just with a larger set of web sites each month, and maybe a few new features in their browsers. It's just the suckers that succumb to the vendors' enticements into their Walled Gardens that think things have changed. If they'd install a decent browser (in addition to the crippled browser that came with their tablets), they'd see that the web is chugging along as it always has, some parts of it good and other parts not so good.

      The fact that the marketers have pushed their New! Improved! products for small, portable computers doesn't mean that the old products have suddenly lost their capabilities. It just means that some of the customers have been persuaded to switch to other things that may or may not be any better.

      The biggest problem with "the web" from a tablet user's viewpoint is all the old sites built by "designers" who haven't yet learned that their sites need to work on whatever screen the visitor has, including the small screens that so many people are carrying around now. The days are past when a site designer could design only for people with screens as big as the fancy one sitting on the designer's desktop. If your site doesn't work on the small screens, you won't attract many of the billion or so people who weren't using the web 5 years ago, but are now.

      This isn't the fault of "tablet focused design"; it's a problem caused by designers' contempt for people with such small, cheap and portable equipment. They've been essentially anti-tablet since before tablets even existed. But they're slowly coming around, as they slowly realize how crappy their sites really are, from the viewpoint of most newcomers to the Internet.

      (Actually, the web has always worked a lot better if you consciously avoid sites created by "designers". Those built by people with an engineer's concern for usability have always been a lot more useful, and they tend to work pretty well on tablets, phones, etc. The "designers" usually don't think they look pretty. But people continue to use google a lot, for example, despite its blatant lack of "design". Or maybe because of it. ;-)

      • Safari monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday September 28, 2014 @12:13AM (#48012155) Homepage Journal

        If they'd install a decent browser (in addition to the crippled browser that came with their tablets)

        That would require buying a second noon-iPad tablet on which to run a non-crippled browser. Because the iOS API lacks support for runtime generation of executable code, all browsers in Apple's App Store are either Safari wrappers or, in the case of Opera Mini, remote desktop viewers.

        • by jc42 ( 318812 )

          If they'd install a decent browser (in addition to the crippled browser that came with their tablets)

          That would require buying a second noon-iPad tablet on which to run a non-crippled browser. Because the iOS API lacks support for runtime generation of executable code, all browsers in Apple's App Store are either Safari wrappers or, in the case of Opera Mini, remote desktop viewers.

          So which case describes Chrome? I have it installed on an iPad, and it lacks most of the "walled garden" flakinesses of Safari, pretty much doing things the way browsers on non-Apple systems do them. Thus, Safari balks when you try to get it to display a PDF in a page, but Chrome does it like you'd expect, and sometimes even sizes it to its container correctly. Safari can display PDFs ok, if it's the only thing in a tab, but if you try to surround a PDF "object" with HTML, Safari flatly refuses, showin

      • The fact that the marketers have pushed their New! Improved! products for small, portable computers doesn't mean that the old products have suddenly lost their capabilities. It just means that some of the customers have been persuaded to switch to other things that may or may not be any better.

        Maybe up until a year or so ago. Now websites are converting to the Metro interface, which prefers splashy pictures over descriptive text. Those bookmarks get deleted (nbcnews.com anyone?)

        In addition more an
      • Bingo. One of the Web's biggest problems has always been "it's just like print" types who create static layouts that fit only within the biggest screen they can lay hold of, and the rest of the world be damned.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          That was a problem long before tablets. I still run across sites hard coded for a specific resolution. Previously 640x480, but higher later, but still hard coded for a single resolution. And assuming full-screen display.
          • I still remember people in 1996 asking me how to change the user's screen res using JavaScript so "they can view my site correctly" and getting all bent out of shape when I tried to explain to them why this was a horrible idea (and not allowed in any case).

            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              The "best" solution would have been to have a windowed viewing that would display the page in the requested window size (with permission of the viewer). Instead, I still find myself with large bars along the side of the browser from the explicitly unused area of the screen. Even in "late" 2014.
      • Actually, the web has always worked a lot better if you consciously avoid sites created by "designers"

        So, no Slashdot Beta then...

      • Wohoo! I got informative + insightful + flamebait mods for my message! That's one of the mods I've been trying for for years (plus the rare chance to use "for" twice in a row).

        Now to see if I can achieve the ultimate: getting "funny" along with flamebait and (informative or insightful). Preferably all four, though I'd wonder if that's actually achievable if you start with 2 points.

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      Tablet focused design is why Flash isn't as ubiquitous as it once was and why javascript has gotten (slightly) less annoying. It is certainly not the reason why Yahoo is shuttering is web directory.
  • I'd take a photo (I'm really sad I think in having a hard copy which I've had in a frame since 1997, on my wall) and upload it, but I'm sure there'll still be a copy online somewhere. It's easy to distinguish between it and the 2007 version, myspace isn't in there. Slashdot's still there in group 9, tho (so's Chips N Dips which is odd, since they're the same site).

  • if they allowed downloading their directoy, it'd help NLP and machine learning engineers.
  • by arielCo ( 995647 ) on Saturday September 27, 2014 @09:56PM (#48011729)

    Seriously, no hand-edited directory has been able to keep pace with WWW content for... ten years now? fifteen?

    For those who don't mind the lag: DMOZ - the Open Directory Project [dmoz.org].

  • by LetterJ ( 3524 ) * <j@wynia.org> on Saturday September 27, 2014 @10:04PM (#48011763) Homepage
    While I haven't used it in years, like most geeks, I do have a soft spot for Yahoo's directory. I remember sitting in a college computer lab after Yahoo launched, visiting every link they included, amazed at this HUGE pile of information available at my fingertips. Funny to think of it now.
    • I know that for almost everyone else (women, kids, old people, non-nerds) the web is a billion things. But for me (and I suspect for many of my fellow male, older nerds), the internet is defined as a source of knowledge, far beyond being a music/movies/sex/friends/whatever provider. And it's all because of a similar experience to you the first time I sat down at a computer in college and tried the World Wide Web for the first time.
    • Yeah, for a few years back there, i was constantly amazed at what was on the web. That would have been a bit over 10 years ago and there was hardly anything compared to what's there today. I've been using the web for 20 years now and i can barely imagine (let alone remember) what life was like before everything was online.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      My experience is that a directory makes it easier to find new things that are interesting, and a search engine makes it easier to find what you are looking for. They are different things for different purposes.
    • Are you also nostalgic for slavery?
      • Why be nostalogic? Slavery's still going strong, even here in the supposed land of the free. Not nearly so openly as it once was, but human trafficking is still a major issue that ruins a lot of people's lives.

        And that's even before you consider things like wage-slaving and non-human slavery (there's a reason they call it "breaking" a horse - that's generally exactly what you have to do to its spirit)

        • Lot of US fud there. As for the horses, you're apparently unaware of current horse training methods. Or... more fud.

          • Keep believing that, just be sure to avoid any of the various organizations documenting the ongoing existence of human trafficking in the US. It's illegal, and not as bad as in some places in the world, but there are in fact people buying and selling sex slaves, etc. in this country (prostitution, especially of children, being one of the areas where profits are sufficient to justify the legal risks).

            As for horses - training methods have improved, but the end result is still shaping the mind of a willfull a

    • Same. I remember when I got my resume listed there back in the mid nineties. You had to post it, and because it had to be accepted, there was just a tiny bit of "you're in the club". It was a bit of geek cred (that and posting it to Dice back when they still had you use telnet).

      Cool Yahoo, a phrase not much heard now, a term of days long gone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure anybody who just paid $299 for a Yahoo Directory Listing will be delighted with this news .......

  • Yahoo's directories were like gopherhole directories for html. Web searches didn't start to mean much until infoseek came around.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )
      Disney bought Infoseek in 2001 and switched it to use Overture (now Yahoo Search Marketing) as its back end. In 2013, it switched to its current format: a list of properties to avoid if you're still boycotting Disney over the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.
  • Maintaining a web directory is like keeping nicely pruned and organized browser bookmarks: nobody does it anymore. Keyword search is good enough in both cases.

    • Keyword search does not help users determine the reputability of a particular site. I can't think of anything better than human curation to assess that, and the result of human curation turns out to be a directory.
      • Google's page rank algorithm goes a long way to mitigate that by tracking how many links refer to a given site, but of course Google needs to be vigilant of abuse.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )
          Just because a document on the web is widely cited doesn't mean it's reliable. Hoaxes can and do spread.
        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

          Google's page rank algorithm goes a long way to mitigate that by tracking how many links refer to a given site

          No. Popularity is a horrible indicator of usefulness, and/or accuracy and/or value. A well curated directory, on the other hand, can be all wheat, no chaff. Unfortunately, no well-curated directory exists.

  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Saturday September 27, 2014 @11:18PM (#48011991) Homepage Journal
    Sad to see one of the last vestiges of the Old Web die.

    Oh, who am I kidding? The modern version kicks the old one's ass seven ways to Sunday. I've been an Internet user for over twenty years. Yahoo was amazing at the time, but Moore's Law reigns supreme, and thank FSM for that. akebono.stanford.edu, anyone?
  • by hwolfe ( 531 )

    I kind of miss it, and had forgot it was around.

    It was kind of a big influence on me, as I hacked a perl script together to take a netscape bookmark file and turn it into something resembling the Yahoo directory.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 28, 2014 @02:18AM (#48012511)

    I think web directories still exist, they are just slightly less centralized and usually have some gimmick or domain attached. There's still a single authority in charge, but the directories are simply in the hands of the users, which in turn is aggregated per-site.

    Examples: Pinterest, Delicious, Reddit (to a point), StumbleUpon, Pearltrees, Kifi, Scoop.it, etc.

    Most of these are simply bookmarks or a curated directory. IMO, just about the same thing, only differing on presentation. Amazing how people continually reinvent something and declare it genius. At best, we've seen refinement, more or less efficient UI, and attached search capabilities.

    As for those who think full-text search can replace curation, I think you're sadly mistaken. Spend a few weeks really researching search engines, ranking, SEO, language processing, parsers, etc. and you'll find that anything remotely resembling Google's approach is full of problems and challenges. I believe it is impossible to say that one is better than another. I see search as part of a larger whole that includes curation, text, semantic, pattern matching, structural, and other kinds of search techniques combined. It really just depends on the actor's use cases:

    Can you quickly find what you're looking for via text search?
    Do You know the exact terms and filters for your search?
    Do you need recommendations or suggestions?
    Do you need to work your way forwards or backwards?
    Do you need to pivot on the results?

    There are many more questions and answering these influences what is best for you. I think it's a mistake to say directory/bookmarks are useless for these reasons.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday September 28, 2014 @02:44AM (#48012555) Homepage

    What does Yahoo still do, anyway?

  • Yahoo directory was almost completely forgotten, but they just had to bring it up again...Now they have an excuse to clean house before lunch is delivered. That's the way the fortune cookie crumbles.
  • What the hell is wrong with the word "shutting"?

  • There's always AltaVista.

  • I used to rely on Yahoo as my gateway to the Internet and had an email account with them. No longer, they have just become irrelevant.

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