Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Yahoo is releasing inactive Yahoo IDs
June 19, 2013 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Yahoo, on June 12, announced that it is releasing inactive IDs. Yahoo says they are "committed and confident," while others think it is a "spectacularly bad idea" and a "dirty trick."
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks (83 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hey! Some of those are mine!
posted by mazola at 11:07 PM on June 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


We’re freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start.

Don't all of the free mail services do this already simply as a matter of housekeeping? It would seem Yahoo is trying to earn some attention from rebranding a routine maintenence operation.
posted by three blind mice at 11:10 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't all of the free mail services do this already simply as a matter of housekeeping? It would seem Yahoo is trying to earn some attention from rebranding a routine maintenence operation.

Hope you've logged into Flickr recently!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Y!IDs associated with Flickr accounts are exempt from the recycling program.
posted by mokin at 11:16 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yahoos' new CEO is trying to stir up as much publicity for the company as possible. The anti-work from home blitz, the tumblr acquisition (although at 1 billion that's not just publicity), this. Trying to get investors to jump on the stock.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 11:16 PM on June 19, 2013


Don't all of the free mail services do this already simply as a matter of housekeeping? It would seem Yahoo is trying to earn some attention from rebranding a routine maintenence operation.

No they don't. They might inactivate and delete the content from old accounts, but they certainly don't recycle the logins for new users. If somebody reclaims someone else's old email address, then they can use it to reset the passwords on every online service or domain registration that person used. This is going to be an awesome/horrifying clusterfuck.
posted by Thoth at 11:17 PM on June 19, 2013 [35 favorites]


In my experience with Yahoo and some others like mail.com, you lose your mailbox contents after some period of inactivity but your username is not released and you have the opportunity to log in anew with a clean slate and the same username. Don't know how widespread that is but their promises seem hard to keep and it seems like a dick move to release the usernames.
posted by lordaych at 11:18 PM on June 19, 2013


I've also experienced the mailbox purge and renewal with MSN. Flickr adds a whole other dimension.
posted by lordaych at 11:22 PM on June 19, 2013


Don't all of the free mail services do this already simply as a matter of housekeeping?

The usual practice is to keep Every Account Ever Made hanging around in order to boost the figure for total number of accounts and claim market dominance/relevance. Wikipedia has a page stating that there are 281 million Yahoo mail accounts as of December 2012; I wonder what the number will drop to after the great culling.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:23 PM on June 19, 2013


...and I just grabbed my Yahoo ID from whoever it was that had my nick locked up but had never logged in. Thanks for the heads up!

Oh wait, WTF am I ever going to use Yahoo for myself? (oops)
posted by trackofalljades at 11:26 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just off the top of my head, I can imagine loads are going to search the WHOIS database for registrant emails ending with @yahoo.com and try to grab those accounts. Erk.
posted by Thoth at 11:26 PM on June 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


I suppose if you're determined to implement bad policy for whatever reason, turning it into a marketing angle is certainly one approach.
posted by brennen at 11:27 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surely, at some point, IDs have to be freed. In 1000 years, are people going to have to sign up as anglebaby5.302e17@yahoo.com?
posted by Jimbob at 11:30 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Surely, at some point, IDs have to be freed. In 1000 years, are people going to have to sign up as anglebaby5.302e17@yahoo.com?

A world in which Yahoo survives for a millennium is not my idea of a world worth living a thousand years in.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:33 PM on June 19, 2013 [56 favorites]


This is just flat out bonkers.

Just off the top of my head, I can imagine loads are going to search the WHOIS database for registrant emails ending with @yahoo.com and try to grab those accounts.

That was my first thought too. My second thought was Paypal.
posted by jack_mo at 11:50 PM on June 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


Anyone care to recommend a mail backup method for those of us who still have semi-active personal non-pro (ie. no POP access? Only inbox POP access?) Yahoo accounts? Initial searching is turning up assorted POP clients and instructions of varying dubiousness.

I'm surprised noone on the net has jumped on this; maybe I'm the only one still sending birthday e-cards through yahoo.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:56 PM on June 19, 2013


Non-tech person here, if I was to pick up biffa@Yahoo.com wouldn't I keep getting all the spam that old Biffa's account got signed up to? Would that not potentially include some quite fucked up shut?
posted by biffa at 11:59 PM on June 19, 2013


How many people use yahoo accounts as their backup accounts for whichever email account they actually use?

So many inboxes and accounts are going to get owned if they go through with this.
posted by empath at 12:00 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


biffa: "Non-tech person here, if I was to pick up biffa@Yahoo.com wouldn't I keep getting all the spam that old Biffa's account got signed up to? Would that not potentially include some quite fucked up shut?"

Yes, and as biffa points out, Yahoo can't remove all the dangling references to that identity. You know how hackers sometimes publish databases of email address and password hashes to prove they got in? Well, now you the email address alone is an attack vector for every service that allows password resets over email.

gmail will let you set a different email account to recover a password with. 12 months from now, we should expect to see a few hilariously compromised gapps domain admin accounts.
posted by pwnguin at 12:09 AM on June 20, 2013


Hi, Welcome to Yahoo! We'd like to introduce you our elephant, we've been ignoring him for a while but now's the time to name him. We were thinking of "why on earth would you think your data was safe with us" but decided on the more punchy "we cannot be trusted"
posted by fullerine at 12:09 AM on June 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


I honestly thought I'd never log into Yahoo Mail again -- I just kept getting tired of battling the never-ending spam with their completely ineffectual filtering/flagging system, so I started using GMail more instead and started logging into Yahoo only intermittently.

Then I eventually got caught by the "we haven't seen you for a while so we deleted all your mail" thing.

On the plus side, that got rid of all the old spam and provided some food for thought about the merits of free third party systems. On the downside, it got rid of all the old email that I actually cared about, and left me only with incoming spam from there on out. So... I mentally waved goodbye.

But today they found a way to get me to log in again: the nagging fear that maybe my Yahoo email could be hijacked and used to impersonate me.

The idea of recycling ids may have some modest shortcomings* when it comes to security -- but it got 'em some traffic and attention, you've got to give them that.



* and by modest, I mean that it's kindof nice of Yahoo to tell everybody how much current and future former users can trust them to take care of important stuff
posted by weston at 12:11 AM on June 20, 2013


From the update at the bottom of the Wired article quoting the Yahoo! response:
Upon deactivation, we will send notification for these potentially recycled accounts to merchants, e-commerce sites, financial institutions, social networks, email providers and other online properties.
As someone who's worked in the internet industry for a while, what do you think your average administrator of one of the hundreds of thousands of merchant, e-commerce, financial, etc, sites is going to do with this Yahoo! notification? For that matter, where are they even going to get the contact information to send this notification to - are they going to know to email pb and mathowie? There's a naiveté in that response that would be almost charming if it weren't both so dangerous and a dick move to the rest of the internet.
posted by lantius at 12:43 AM on June 20, 2013 [27 favorites]


Zimbra did a good job of scraping my account to a local backup, if anyone is interested. Some vintage messages from 2003 in there.

Not that I don't have confidence that non dormant accounts would be affected or anything.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:28 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and I just grabbed my Yahoo ID from whoever it was that had my nick locked up but had never logged in. Thanks for the heads up!

I think you're trying to make some kind of joke about not wanting a Yahoo ID, but you can't actually claim any of these until mid july and won't get told if your claim was successful until August.
posted by jacalata at 1:28 AM on June 20, 2013


Oh dear, I've used Flickr recently but still remember Losing all my hotmail emails, bastards.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:35 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not gonna miss my shot at d4rQ_4nG3l_1991@yahoo.com this time. Hold on to your hats, recruiters and potential dates!
posted by No-sword at 2:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am a bit confused about why other companies (Google, Paypal, Amazon, etc.) aren't taking the opportunity to kick Yahoo to the curb by announcing that, since Yahoo is making a massive compromise to user security, they will no longer accept Yahoo addresses as primary or backup addresses for accounts.

Seems like that would be a win for them, making them look like privacy heroes while hurting a (in some cases indirect) competitor. Am I missing something?
posted by Wylla at 2:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh, I wish social media sites would adopt this policy. He says, looking at the Twitter account he wants, but was taken several years ago and has precisely zero tweets and zero followers.
posted by Wordshore at 2:24 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


As long as they manage to ensure the Flickr log in that they forced us over to, a few years back when they bought Flickr, are untouched.
posted by infini at 2:29 AM on June 20, 2013


Remember, these are the assholes who outed Chinese dissidents. In a just world they'd be out of business already.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:39 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking as someone who has been involved with the Internet since before there was an Internet, I'm very glad that Yahoo is doing this. To be more specific I'm glad it's being done, and also I'm glad that Yahoo is the sacrificial lamb rather than some company people actually care about.

The problem of email address reuse has been bubbling in the background for a while now. It's a natural part of the shuffling of domains: when foo.com changes hands, so does control of all the email addresses in that domain. All of the potential problems people have suggested above already exist, right down to people searching "Whois" to see what sort of mischief they can cause by purchasing an expired domain in order to hijack an active domain's admin email account.

These problems aren't going away but the efforts to address them have been piecemeal. There are plenty of services on the net that simply have no conception that an email address can change hands despite the fact that it happens constantly.

So it's good to see address recycling on this scale. It will force a lot of services to address a problem they haven't been thinking about.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:50 AM on June 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


Christ, for the past few months, I have had incessant spam from any friend or acquaintance who has a @yahoo.com address. I presume that spammers are hacking loads of Yahoo accounts and sending off spam to all their contacts (including any mailing lists etc). It's really annoying because it mostly doesn't hit the normally brilliant Gmail spam filters and comes straight through to my inbox. I am almost at the point of putting in a Gmail filter that routes all @yahoo.com mail straight to the bin as literally 95% of all of it is spam. I don't know what it is about Yahoo that means they are vulnerable to or a target for this, but it is ONLY Yahoo accounts that this spam comes from. I wish they'd fix that instead of fucking around with this crap.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:15 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the websites I manage, we already won't accept Yahoo emails for registration. They are just too predictably associated with spam. Hotmail too.
posted by spitbull at 3:24 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Christ, for the past few months, I have had incessant spam from any friend or acquaintance who has a @yahoo.com address. I presume that spammers are hacking loads of Yahoo accounts and sending off spam to all their contacts (including any mailing lists etc). It's really annoying because it mostly doesn't hit the normally brilliant Gmail spam filters and comes straight through to my inbox.

Hmmp, I've been getting these spams from hacked contacts as well, but hadn't noticed a commonality-- just checked and, yep, all Yahoo addresses.
posted by threeants at 4:24 AM on June 20, 2013


So...Will I have to specifically go to Yahoo and log into my email account? Or will logging-in to, say, Yahoo Messenger via Adium count?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:40 AM on June 20, 2013


I have had incessant spam from any friend or acquaintance who has a @yahoo.com address.

Yeah, I've seen the uptick in spam from Yahoo accounts, too. It really jumped in the past month.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:42 AM on June 20, 2013


"Non-tech person here, if I was to pick up biffa@Yahoo.com wouldn't I keep getting all the spam that old Biffa's account got signed up to? Would that not potentially include some quite fucked up shut?"

Let me tell you, as someone who has had a "desirable" yahoo email addy for 15 years (it's my mefi name also), that email address is completely unusable due to all the spam it gets. Nonetheless, when I heard about this a few days ago I decided to check into the account like I do every two or three years.

I cleared out all the billions of pounds of spam, just because. It's been 48 hours since I purged, let's go check . . . . 88 emails in my inbox and 551 in my Spam filter. Not actually as bad as I thought, and the nastiest of the email seems to have been sent to Spam. Here is an example of how Yahoo filters: posted by jeremias at 4:45 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


ceribus peribus: "Anyone care to recommend a mail backup method for those of us who still have semi-active personal non-pro (ie. no POP access? Only inbox POP access?) Yahoo accounts? Initial searching is turning up assorted POP clients and instructions of varying dubiousness."

I've used fetchyahoo for years - it breaks periodically (whenever yahoo updates something that causes the parser to fail), but the developer is usually lightning quick to fix it.
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:59 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't all of the free mail services do this already simply as a matter of housekeeping?

Gmail doesn't do this. Yet.
posted by corb at 5:03 AM on June 20, 2013


Google has Inactive Account Manager, which lets you choose what happens when your account is inactive for a year (where the assumption is that you are dead).
posted by jozxyqk at 5:18 AM on June 20, 2013


> As someone who's worked in the internet industry for a while, what do you think your average administrator of one of the hundreds of thousands of merchant, e-commerce, financial, etc, sites is going to do with this Yahoo! notification?

They don't care about the average administrator. Yahoo is not going to notify them anyway. Notifications are likely to only go to a limited list of companies and institutions that can be counted on to perform due diligence, like Paypal, Etrade, Amazon, universities (well, major universities), government offices (first-world governments, anyway), and so on.

The list will hit the underground immediately, of course, so any high-profile clusterfuckage is going to occur within minutes. I would expect likely attackers are already planning their courses of action.

Keep in mind that tens of thousands of independent ecommerce sites are hosted by Yahoo! Business Solutions -- we have to hope they eat their own dogfood on this one.
posted by ardgedee at 5:22 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alas, ktcat12!
posted by little cow make small moo at 5:57 AM on June 20, 2013


So it's good to see address recycling on this scale. It will force a lot of services to address a problem they haven't been thinking about.

It will also force a lot of consumers to address a problem they have been causing- wasting email addresses and not keeping track of their stuff. Even here, with the ask-mefi anon questions. People spin up a new account for that single question, and gmail has to maintain that. Apparently forever, according to some of the comments here.

Speaking of spam, can you imagine the volume of data that Yahoo goes through dealing with spam? Even with data deduplication and automatic purging of old messages, they must have petabytes of just shit that they are paying to maintain. On accounts that nobody intends to use ever again.
posted by gjc at 6:24 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


So what about all of Yahoo's affiliates? IIRC Verizon has or had some relation with Yahoo, and I think at some point my email was gungho@verizon.yahoo.something. Now it is just gungho@verizon,net (not really a real address).
posted by Gungho at 6:29 AM on June 20, 2013


Of course Yahoo can't be expected to maintain old user's data for free forever; they're perfectly entitled to wipe it out. The problem is that they are planning to allow new people to come in and usurp the old user's identity in the most direct and sacrosanct way used on the web: email address. This doesn't just allow the original user to be a victim; it allows everyone who has dealt with the original user to be defrauded into believing that the old user has appeared and wants to talk to them by email. To my untrained eye, Yahoo would seem to be opening itself up to major lawsuits with this policy.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I probably still have like a trillion Hotmail accounts somewhere from when I was in high school and my friends and I would email one with the content of our message contained within the email address.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:38 AM on June 20, 2013


I've been using a couple Yahoo accounts for 15 years now, and I never have spam problems anymore. It used to be a big problem 10 years ago. My gmail account is much worse for spam showing up in the inbox right now.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:39 AM on June 20, 2013


I'm still maintain a Yahoo email address eight or so years after switching to Gmail because there are a few people that still can't seem to update their contact list. I just forward everything to gmail and never actually log into Yahoo. I should just shut it down but I'm too lazy to figure out how to archive the years of pre-2005 mail that's still in there.
posted by octothorpe at 6:44 AM on June 20, 2013


There's a naiveté in that response that would be almost charming if it weren't both so dangerous and a dick move to the rest of the internet.

Naiveté ? Maybe. Or maybe they know they full well and deliberately put this forward as a fig leaf for the purpose of misleading non-technical people into thinking the problem has been addressed. I leave it as exercise for the reader to form an opinion.

Yeah, good for Yahoo, at everyone else's expense.
posted by tyllwin at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Want a new face? From July 15th, Yahoo will be freeing up the faces of users who haven't logged in recently! Simply head to your local plastic surgeon...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:54 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really wish I could set my old yahoo mail to automatically sort any emails with subject lines in arabic to spam. (I check it about every 60 days)

Thanks random persian guy who thought he had my email for MONTHS... thanks for subscribing to craptons of stuff too.
posted by DigDoug at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


wow this is ridiculous. good thing i absolutely never use yahoo.
posted by kbennett289 at 7:02 AM on June 20, 2013


I probably still have like a trillion Hotmail accounts somewhere from when I was in high school and my friends and I would email one with the content of our message contained within the email address.

Nope, Hotmail generally purges email accounts after a year of inactivity.

I have a few trash Hotmail accounts, and I don't check into them very often. I don't know how often I checked in, but a few times I re-instated my account and my inbox was pleasantly empty, only to get filled with the muck I signed up for in years past.

And when I was a high school punk (in the late 1990s), I nabbed a Hotmail account to steal an ICQ account with a low user ID. Why pay for a seven digit user ID, when you can claim an unused email account and steal it? Purging unused accounts is not a new practice.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:02 AM on June 20, 2013


The first thing I ever tried to sign up for online was a Yahoo account. I mis-typed my email address, never got the confirmation email, and never even logged in. But now, that username will (may?) become available again. I wonder if I'll remember to try and get it...
posted by frijole at 7:21 AM on June 20, 2013


This doesn't just allow the original user to be a victim; it allows everyone who has dealt with the original user to be defrauded into believing that the old user has appeared and wants to talk to them by email.

Today in 'reasons why it sucks that PGP encryption/signatures never took off'.
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I need to remember to check my yahoo account occasionally. I did it recently, and there was actually some interesting stuff in there. Also yay for Flickr, which I have been known to use, for keeping that account safe.
posted by immlass at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2013


What a rabbit hole of suck. Been years since I logged in there, but they have my birthday & won't let me scrub it off. Now they have my phone # too. Arrgh.

[changes to stronger password, continues to ignore]

[remembers he used to be signed up to a bunch of y! groups]

Nuked most of them, but they won't let me leave four of them.

[closes 10 browser tabs, goes back to ignoring yahoo]
posted by omnidrew at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Earlier this year, I was victim to my account being hijacked (even if I seriously don't think I clicked on any suspicious email links). Thing is, I use the GMail interface, but keep my Yahoo active as a forwarding address because so many people I know have that address and I don't feel that I could update everyone. So my account was hacked and sent out spam emails to a couple hundred people. When I logged in to my Yahoo account, I remembered that I had previously deleted all my Contacts from there in case something like this happened. Well, where did all the recipients of my hacked email come from? Apparently they were all on my Collected Address list. I really have no idea how this awful company stays in business. I'd give up my Yahoo address if it meant I could watch them go down as a company.

Here is my email exchange with these morons -

Customer 03/18/2013 07:00 AM:

Where do I delete my Collected Autofill addresses so that this hacker cannot send all my Collected addresses spam links? I cannot find a place to do this anywhere in my account and Googling this brings up many results that says it's not possible to delete them. Yahoo cannot be so incompetent as to not have an option to delete Collected addresses, can they? Especially since this exploit is well known and ongoing.

Response Via Email (Demi) 03/19/2013 10:47 PM

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Mail.

Thanks for your suggestion of a new feature for Yahoo! Mail. The current version of Yahoo! Mail doesn't have this feature, but we appreciate that you took the time to tell us about what you'd like to see in a future version. It is through comments and feedback such as yours that we are able to identify ways to develop and improve our products and services.

The Yahoo! Mail Product Team uses customer suggestions for consideration of features to include in future releases. Please understand that our development cycles can be quite lengthy, so your suggestion isn't likely to be added right away, if the development team does decide to include it.

I hope I have addressed and understood your question or concern. If not, please don't hesitate to reply to this email, and we will gladly assist you further.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Mail.

Regards,

Demi

Yahoo! Customer Care
posted by gman at 8:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I second that twitter should do this, but then we would find out they really only have a million active users and how do you sell that to shareholders?
posted by cjorgensen at 8:09 AM on June 20, 2013


We’re freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start.

Because IDs are like creatures who deserve the best in life! Who are you to hold all those poor email addresses back?

I nominate that a huge internet company straight-facedly trying to convince us that a stupid decision they've made is actually best for everyone be called Pulling a Reader.
posted by JHarris at 8:09 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


They deleted my adult profile. :(
posted by Melismata at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2013


Oh, good, none of these are me. But WTF?

hank@yahoo.com Email Address
Listed below are people associated with the hank@yahoo.com email address in the Advanced Background Checks directory of over 2 billion public records. These people may currently use the email address, or may have used it previously. For more information on the current address, phone number, relatives, and more, click on a result below to view detailed information.
12 results found for hank@yahoo.com
posted by hank at 8:29 AM on June 20, 2013


I logged back into my yahoo account after a few years to make sure I didn't lose it, but immediately wondered why I bothered. I decided that I just didn't like losing it. I'm an email address hoarder, apparently.

It took me a few tries, and I realized that I was using my old generic password which I haven't used for a long time. I really only used that id to organize the sports sections, which are excellent, and never used mail, but it does serve as a reminder of the impermanence of Internet objects. I lost my Hotmail account years ago.

My first thought on reading this was "Deleting unused accounts to free up bandwidth, eh? What a cunning plan..."
posted by sauril at 8:45 AM on June 20, 2013


I agree with Tell Me No Lies. This just points out how ridiculous it is that the security of so many sites is predicated on using email addresses as the authentication mechanism of last resort, as though they are fixed entities that belong to the same person for life. It's not Yahoo that is having a spectacularly bad idea here, it's all the companies that rely on email addresses for authentication.
posted by whir at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, too much identity on the Internet is attached to an email address. I'm sympathetic with Yahoo here; they have accounts that are dormant for years, they want to clean up and have a fresh start. What can they do?

I increasingly think there's a role for government in providing the core identity on the Internet. Let me use my passport number as my primary identity, and have some trusted way for me to retrieve messages / authenticate to my passport. I mean, I hate to say "trust the government!" as a solution to a social problem, but I'm dissatisfied by the way companies are managing identity now.
posted by Nelson at 9:22 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


they want to clean up and have a fresh start. What can they do?

Get a new domain for email?
posted by jaduncan at 9:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just logged in to my Yahoo account for the first time in a long time. No new mail but lots of emails from someone named Adriana detailing some long really boring story about her moving "rite near" me, and suggesting I click a link for a VIP BYPASS. I assume this is some sort of surgery, so I declined.

Yahoo is a for-profit company. It doesn't owe you very much to begin with, but it certainly doesn't owe you a blocked-off email address for life. When you abandon property for years on end, you don't get to turn around and act all outraged when it's condemned and redistributed, surely? If people were foolish or irresponsible enough to register web sites that they actually need with email addresses that they never check, then they're kind of abusing the registration system or at least failing to do their own housekeeping, and blaming Yahoo puts the finger on the wrong party.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:36 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have no idea why I would want someone else's spam and unwanted newsletters in addition to my own, to say nothing of the freaky security issues this will cause.
posted by Gordafarin at 10:04 AM on June 20, 2013


they want $20 to allow you to grab mail from a non-web client. phooey!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:52 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


namewithoutwords: "ceribus peribus: "Anyone care to recommend a mail backup method for those of us who still have semi-active personal non-pro (ie. no POP access? Only inbox POP access?) Yahoo accounts? Initial searching is turning up assorted POP clients and instructions of varying dubiousness."

I've used fetchyahoo for years - it breaks periodically (whenever yahoo updates something that causes the parser to fail), but the developer is usually lightning quick to fix it.
"

MailStore Home works a bloody treat too. (Not associated with the company) I use it to periodically back up my Gmail account so I can encrypt/compress it and park it on one of my clouds.

(Unfortunately, it is Windows-only, which is the only downside I can see.)
posted by Samizdata at 11:30 AM on June 20, 2013


When you abandon property for years on end, you don't get to turn around and act all outraged when it's condemned and redistributed, surely?

The analogy you're making doesn't involve identity theft, which is a far more serious issue.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:43 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me tell you, as someone who has had a 'desirable' yahoo email addy for 15 years (it's my mefi name also), that email address is completely unusable due to all the spam it gets.

Yeah, I've had kmellis, which is what I've used all over the internet since the early nineties, on Yahoo! since 1996. It's been unusable because of spam for a long, long time. It did improve somewhat a couple of years ago. I check it every now and then. This stale account deletion isn't an issue for me, though, because I still use My Yahoo! and log in to Yahoo! almost every day.

Weirdly, though, I have an entirely different problem with kmellis on gmail. I don't really use it (I have my own domain and route my mail there to a different and obscurely named gmail account) except for a few Google products. I don't get spam.

What I do get, though, is email intended for other people. Other people who have the same initials and surname. Like, often. And different people. I get personal messages, I get messages about homeowner's association meetings. I get updates on how the kids are doing. I get reminders to change "my" oil. Sometimes with personal messages where I worry about the intended recipient not getting it, I'll respond to the sender and let them know that kmellis isn't going to who they think it's going to. I occasionally get nice responses back.

What I think is involved in this, maybe, though I'm not sure how, is the way that gmail allows periods in usernames ... but they're actually ignored. So kmellis is the same as k.mellis ("mellis" is actually a surname, weird!) and k.m.ellis. I still don't understand how people are giving out these addresses to other people if they haven't, you know, actually used them. Some of them are the senders' mistakes, obviously. But others aren't like that, they're the intended recipients having given this email address to people. And it's not necessarily a typo on their part, because I can see their names (which they've also given to other people) and it fits the initials and surname thing. It's all very strange and I've been dealing with this for like five years now. Or longer, I can't remember.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:19 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I think is involved in this, maybe, though I'm not sure how, is the way that gmail allows periods in usernames ... but they're actually ignored. So kmellis is the same as k.mellis ("mellis" is actually a surname, weird!) and k.m.ellis.

You can check that in gmail -- click the little down-arrow next to your name in the "To" line; it'll show exactly what address the email was sent to.

That said -- yeah, it's definitely people simply giving out the wrong email address, thinking they signed up for one thing when they didn't. Silly people.
posted by inigo2 at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2013


I am mkania on gmail & get the occasional misdirected emails for other M. Kanias (not that Kania is all that common of a surname). I think some of it is people who have, say, mkania7@gmail.com who tell that to people who then drop the 7 (there is in fact a realtor in Virginia at mkania7 who gets all sorts of misdirected stuff that I forward on to her).
posted by zempf at 12:36 PM on June 20, 2013


"Anyone care to recommend a mail backup method for those of us who still have semi-active personal non-pro (ie. no POP access? Only inbox POP access?) Yahoo accounts? Initial searching is turning up assorted POP clients and instructions of varying dubiousness."

I've been using Aid4Mail for years, now. I initially got it to import and convert Outlook's mostly undocumented .pst mail container (as in directly, not through the API). It doesn't use POP, which is really mostly deprecated these days, but does support IMAP, and I see that Yahoo mail allows IMAP access.

I like Aid4Mail because I can export mail from these different sources and formats into the standard UNIX mail format and individually into plain text. And strip all attachments and save them somewhere. Stuff like that. I see that the current version can put the imported mail into another IMAP, which could be handy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2013


"I think some of it is people who have, say, mkania7@gmail.com who tell that to people who then drop the 7 (there is in fact a realtor in Virginia at mkania7 who gets all sorts of misdirected stuff that I forward on to her)."

That makes a lot of sense. I'd not considered that before.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2013


What I do get, though, is email intended for other people.

Oh, my god. I've gotten so much of this, since I've had my (apparently quite common) firstnamelastname@gmail.com account since beta. I get personal letters from doctors and lawyers, real estate agents, and all manner of friends and relatives. Just this week I got an email from a lawyer alarming reminding me that I was due in court on Wednesday and trying to make sure that I'd paid my money before then. I get signed up for Tea Party mailing lists and Playboy mailing lists. One fellow used my email address when he signed up for his cell phone, and I watched his balance grow and grow over the next three months until they sent me a notice that he was being disconnected. One signed me up for a series of AppleCare appointments. Several people sign up for stuff with the firstname.lastname@gmail.com version of my address, which is an equivalent form (to gmail, though not according to the RFC).

The most frustrating thing about this type of unwanted email is that there's no possible way to turn it off. As a member of an earlier, more paranoid generation of internet users, I have been extremely careful with who I give my email address to so as to limit my exposure to spam. That's all out the window now, who knows how many random user databases and mailing lists I'm on. And because I don't have the actual email addresses of the people signing me up for this stuff, there's no way for me to contact them and ask them to stop.

In short, most people with my name seem to be idiots with only the most rudimentary grasp of how to use the internet.
posted by whir at 3:05 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Based solely on the number of times this comes up on metafilter:

most people with my name seem to be idiots with only the most rudimentary grasp of how to use the internet.
posted by inigo2 at 4:27 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hadn't logged into Yahoo for ages. Tried. Wrong password. Tried the maybe other password. No good.

Jump through the usual hoops. Clicked the reset password and entered the alternate email address. Clicked the link sent to the alternate address. Entered and re-entered new password.

Then get a message that I cannot reset the password online because the account has been locked for the suspicious activity of two failed logins. Yahoo will not specify the lock duration.

Hope it ends before July 15. But, knowing Yahoo, I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't
posted by Gotanda at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2013


I'm curious how often someone would want a password reset without first trying to login twice.

You could just remove the password reset service and have that error message. Nobody could tell the difference.
posted by squinty at 6:37 PM on June 20, 2013


The irony? Google's disabled my firstname.lastname email account for being under age 13 after rejecting my govt ID. Between these two exes (Marissa and Larry sitting on a tree) I'll have to go back to smoke signals and semaphore.
posted by infini at 10:30 PM on June 20, 2013


What I do get, though, is email intended for other people. Other people who have the same initials and surname. Like, often. And different people. I get personal messages, I get messages about homeowner's association meetings. I get updates on how the kids are doing. I get reminders to change "my" oil. Sometimes with personal messages where I worry about the intended recipient not getting it, I'll respond to the sender and let them know that kmellis isn't going to who they think it's going to. I occasionally get nice responses back.

Oh God, this. I managed to snag a sweet first initial dot last name @gmail.com address back during the beta in 2004, and I get an unbelievable amount of email intended for other people. Frat alumnus meetings, internal company stuff, people trying to contact their relatives (some get really quite belligerent when I tell them they have the wrong email, insisting that they in fact absolutely have it right... Not sure if they understand how it works) I even ended up on the email list of a USAID reconstruction group working out of the US embassy in Afghanistan. Amazing.

It's gotten to the point where it's too difficult to respond to each one to let them know they have the wrong address... I can only respond to the most egregious ones, the rest just get added to the filter.
posted by Thoth at 5:58 AM on June 21, 2013


A friend of mine has catchall@firstnamelastname.com. There's a relatively big cookware manufacturer with firstname-lastname.com. I would be sorely tempted to change my name by deed poll.
posted by jaduncan at 6:06 AM on June 21, 2013


« Older Gagged by Big Ag....   |   “I am sorry for the pain and h... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments