October 2nd, 2006

The other day I had the idea to write an opinion of the Yahoo Mail Beta webmail service, which I found particularly disappointing, in a consumer oriented review style, which I thought would have wider interest than the average blog entry I write. I posted the story on digg and reddit, and noone was interested in it. Then I posted it on slashdot (they have an open submission policy, every submission gets reviewed by their editors to be either published or discarded) and it was accepted, so yesterday it appeared on the frontpage of slashdot.

Slashdot is the biggest technology news site, and one of the oldest geek establishments, so my review was destined for a lot of traffic. So much so that I used three times more bandwidth in a day than I did the previous month. I got lots of comments on the blog, and many many more on slashdot. So that was pretty interesting to see how people responded to something I wrote, which wasn't the most controversial of viewpoints.

What strikes me is how many people are unable or unwilling to accept an article on the merits that it's written. My review was from the point of view of a user who has been using Yahoo Mail for a long time, tried the new service and was not impressed with it. And that's honestly my standpoint. I never pretended to take into account the concerns of other users, I just focused on my needs all the way. It wasn't a news article by the criteria of a news site, Yahoo Mail Beta has been around for months. It is still news to many users, however, who have been using Yahoo Mail for years. So as a user, this beta software is news to me. And as it was just my opinion, I didn't try to make it out to be some kind of complete review either, I didn't research the service thoroughly, I just used it for a bit, as most users would before forming an opinion.

I would actually love to respond to every comment I got and clear up many misunderstandings, but I realize that people who make a comment don't come back, so it would be pointless. There were two points that came up again and again and I should probably mention those. One is about opening messages in tabs. Well, I did know there were tabs, and that folders open in tabs, I didn't know that messages also open in tabs. I suppose I should have tried to double click on the message header, but then again I'm not used to double clicking on anything in a browser window, and Yahoo never gave me a hint to try that either. So silly me for missing that point. The other thing was that apparently I thought "Yahoo Mail Beta" was the name of the service. Well, strictly speaking, that is what they're calling it right now. Of course, I realize that beta means the software is still in development (or testing, more likely), but I find it somewhat confusing that you would slap the word beta on a product that already exists (the old Yahoo Mail). It would be like Microsoft calling their next operating system "Windows XP Beta" instead of "Windows Vista beta". Which is why I assumed Yahoo called it Yahoo Mail Beta, because Google called their service Gmail Beta (and again, Beta isn't part of the name, but Google seem to have started a fad as they slap the beta tag on just about every service their launch).

Then there are some people who point out one factual error (or sometimes just what they perceive to be a factual error), write "get your facts straight" and then leave.

But, on the whole I'd say the response was largely positive. As I read comments on slashdot, there is rarely a story that doesn't get heavily criticized, so it would be downright disturbing if that didn't happen here. But what is a bit out of the ordinary is quite a few people saying "I agree completely with the review, I'm also very disappointed with the new webmail service". Then there were those who say they really like the service, to whom I'd say "go tell Yahoo about it" (which I did about my opinion), because that's important feedback.

So that was an interesting experience..

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1 Responses to "slashdotted"

  1. erik says:

    Agree on the factual error bit, people loooove doing that.