All these Yahoo Directory listings will be lost, like tears in the rain
December 29, 2014 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Search Engine Land (December 27, 2014): "The Yahoo Directory, the core part of how Yahoo itself began in 1994, officially closed today, five days ahead of when Yahoo had said the end would come." The Internet Archive save of Yahoo for October 1996.

Yahoo blog (September 2014): "Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. 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. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly."

Web Pro News: "The Yahoo Directory used to offer free, standard listings and a paid submission process before moving to a model of $299 for a non-refundable “review fee”. It would cost sites the same amount each year if they were to be listed."

Search Engine roundtable: "The interesting part is that the directory redirects 301 style to the small business directory. So Yahoo moved it, it is not 404ing and killing it off completely."

WQAD8: "Before it was a search engine, Yahoo started out as 'Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web' in 1994. It was essentially a list of websites organized by category that Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and David Filo put together in graduate school."
posted by Wordshore (75 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great--now Marissa can devote more attention to Yahoo's core business as a holding company for Alibaba.

Sic transit gloria web 1.0.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:38 PM on December 29, 2014 [41 favorites]


/wondering if the sites I submitted back in the 90s ever made it through the backlog.
posted by Artw at 12:40 PM on December 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


Well now how in the hell am I supposed to find the best Mr. T Ate My Balls websites??
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:40 PM on December 29, 2014 [37 favorites]


Is that site certified Fresh?
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on December 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


"In rain", not "In the rain"

/nitpick
posted by kcds at 12:44 PM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


/under_deconstruction_anim.gif
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on December 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Cortex: can you change the title of this post to end "...like tears falling on my plate of beans"? Thanks.
posted by Wordshore at 12:46 PM on December 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


Nostalgia!
posted by cavalier at 12:47 PM on December 29, 2014


Yahoo was the first Internet corp that made a prime time commercial that I ever saw. It was weird, sitting with a bunch of stoners watching TV and seeing both yahoo and another corp that presented a URL during commercial time.

I was the only one there who even knew what either were about, though I declined to explain. I might have made noises about " that's weird" or something.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:47 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I had totally forgotten about this. This is how I learned that there was porn on the internet. Sad to see it go.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:49 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I bet the newsgroups are on fire about this.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on December 29, 2014 [33 favorites]




Great, so all we need is yahoo to buy it again and break it - or do they only do that to thriving sites/social networks/applications?
posted by greenhornet at 12:54 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does this mean they'll have to rename Yahoo Search Engine Arena?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:58 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's OK, DMOZ is still online and as irrelevant as ever. For instance, marvel at this fossil list of handheld computers: Newton, Palm OS, Windows CE, or Windows Embedded. What more would you need to know about?

(Seriously, the sad part of this shutdown is no one even cares to preserve the Yahoo Directory in archive form as some sort of historical artifact. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.)
posted by Nelson at 12:58 PM on December 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


The hamsters are still dancing, right?
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on December 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oh I'm sure someone will save a mirror of it.

I don't know why he mirrored Yahoo's directory. Maybe in those last moments he loved directories more than he ever had before. Not just his directory... anybody's directory... Yahoo's directory.
posted by Naberius at 1:02 PM on December 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm gonna share this sad news with all my friends on Ello
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:04 PM on December 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


How on earth is DMOZ still around? Who would pay for it?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:07 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: how I learned that there was porn on the internet
posted by localroger at 1:10 PM on December 29, 2014


AltaVista 4 Life.

I can't remember the last time I used Yahoo, but I remember their UK TV ad from about 1998. AFAIR the tagline was something like "Do you Yahoo?"
posted by marienbad at 1:22 PM on December 29, 2014


I'm gonna share this sad news with all my friends on Ello

That is the first time I have heard or thought about Ello since the week it launched. Heh.

I dunno.. I remember the heady days of the Yahoo directory and stuff but I find it hard to summon much nostalgia. Was much sadder about the demise of Geocities.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:23 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: how I learned that there was porn on the internet

To warn me about the more naughty parts of the internet, my mom would tell me of the harrowing tale of a kid who wanted to look up a recipe for biscuts so he typed "buns" into a search engine, only to have the search results come back with actual pictures of butts.

Of course by that point I had already seen my fair share of porn, being a curious teen and all that.
posted by littlesq at 1:26 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I typed 'corn' into a search engine at work once.

The pictures that I got were... they were not corn.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:29 PM on December 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Why do people kill our nostolgia? Big meanies.

If the WayBack machine ever goes down, I have no idea what I'm going to show my grandchildren.

In all seriousness, I do worry about the curation of human history as reflected on the internet. So much of our written and oral history is recorded there now that it feels... precarious. As much as we stay that stuff stays on the internet forever, the wheels of time turn enough that it'll eventually see everything subject to the whims of those who either chose to archive it or not (not to mention the concern about the long term viability of those institutions).
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:30 PM on December 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: This is how I learned that there was porn on the internet. Sad to see it go.
Don't worry - thanks to the Wayback Machine, there will always be porn on the internet!
posted by IAmBroom at 1:31 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


To warn me about the more naughty parts of the internet, my mom would tell me of the harrowing tale of a kid who wanted to look up a recipe for biscuts so he typed "buns" into a search engine, only to have the search results come back with actual pictures of butts.

Cigarette butts? I, too, would be scared that my kids could pick up smoking just because they were looking for bread or a new hair style. Search functionality has come a long way.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:33 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


If the WayBack machine ever goes down, I have no idea what I'm going to show my grandchildren.

In all seriousness, I do worry about the curation of human history as reflected on the internet. So much of our written and oral history is recorded there now that it feels... precarious. As much as we stay that stuff stays on the internet forever, the wheels of time turn enough that it'll eventually see everything subject to the whims of those who either chose to archive it or not (not to mention the concern about the long term viability of those institutions).


Now's the time of year to get proactive about this! Donate to the Internet Archive!
posted by mr_roboto at 1:35 PM on December 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Was much sadder about the demise of Geocities.

Still mad 5 years later. RIP Tokyo/Shrine/9114. (um, is Yahoo....Rickrolling us?)

EDIT: Holy shit Japan still has GeoCites
posted by littlesq at 1:37 PM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ah, the good old days. I remember one glorious evening when my crappy Geocities Zardoz (a triple redundancy!) website somehow made its way onto Yahoo!'s front page.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:42 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yahoo was the first site that I went to when I first connected to the web with Lynx via Kermit using Windows 3.1.
posted by octothorpe at 1:42 PM on December 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


A few old Yahoo ads:

- Lincoln
- Quilt
- Satellite
- Soup
posted by Wordshore at 1:46 PM on December 29, 2014


Now's the time of year to get proactive about this! Donate to the Internet Archive!

Yep, and this is awesome. What gives me a tinge of concern about long-term solutions, though (I'm going to sound a bit end-of-the-world paranoid here, but it's really been on my mind as a question of future anthropology), is that it's an internlized solution. The internet curates the internet, and primarily in one location as a long term solution. Hopefully nothing happens to the internet, or to the Archive. Or our ability to access that very localized information.

In years prior to the internet, multiple libraries and people and schools would curate books and information at redundant locations. Things could be lost and then dug up again tangibly in future generations. If anything permanently happened to the contents of the internet to cause us to lose large scale stuff (I'm not even sure to what extend this is possible), what would it be like to be "dug up" by future generations? Is this qualitatively a different thing?

What would comfort me is a "real world" redundancy to online information (which maybe the IA already does), but the trend seems to be moving away towards that sort of possibility for creating content. Maybe we'll swing back around again as people learn to love tangible books-in-hand.

My thoughts sure do get darker and slightly more pessimistic towards the end of the year... I think I'll go read The Road again.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:47 PM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


OK everybody, start printing out the Internet on acid-free paper for future generations to enjoy
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:50 PM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Another problem is the increasingly dynamic nature of web sites makes it harder for the Wayback Machine and friends to do their job. It's not just that they have to mirror all the JavaScript libraries (jQuery, ad servers, etc.) that get pulled in when you load a page -- I'm sure they're doing a decent job figuring those problems out. The thing that really threatens long-term availability of the history is the fact that browsers are changing, and old standards / pseudo-standards / not-at-all standards are deprecated / removed. Browsers themselves can be emulated, and I'd imagine that will have to become a piece of the puzzle as time goes on -- maybe they're already trying to work around those things and I just don't know about it.

The other problem is that so much of the web content has moved into walled gardens, and there's really nothing to be done about that.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:52 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also Wayback doesn't seem to archive images, which will make LOLCat research very difficult in 2114.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 PM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


The internet: making it much easier for entropy to do its thing since 1990.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:58 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I typed 'corn' into a search engine at work once.
The pictures that I got were... they were not corn.


Were they pictures of feet with helomata on them?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:59 PM on December 29, 2014


I got a string whiff of nostalgia from the 1996 Yahoo homepage, like a regurgitated bite of HomeSite and CGI.
posted by grubby at 2:01 PM on December 29, 2014


How on earth is DMOZ still around? Who would pay for it?

It costs basically nothing to keep a site like that running for years after development stops on it, really, if you have the infrastructure. A few dozen vms, and some spare cycles from the ops guys every once in a great while to push out linux patches and restart a server if it crashes.
posted by empath at 2:09 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK everybody, start printing out the Internet on acid-free paper for future generations to enjoy

This will be how forwarded emails attain immortality.
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on December 29, 2014


...harrowing tale of a kid who wanted to look up a recipe for biscuts so he typed "buns" into a search engine, only to have the search results come back with actual pictures of butts.

I had a relatively sheltered friend who was a fan of Joey Fatone. While she was perusing the internet for pictures of her beloved, she decided to point her browser at fatone.com to see what luck would bring her. To her horror, that address was not being used to promote N'Sync.
posted by vorpal bunny at 2:18 PM on December 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


OK everybody, start printing out the Internet on acid-free paper for future generations to enjoy

This will be how forwarded emails attain immortality.


Poor Steven Levy
posted by littlesq at 2:24 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't wait til future historians try to puzzle out the impact on the 21st century economy of Bill Gates giving $5,000 each to all those people who shared that one photo
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:26 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Flickr will be gone or sold off within two years, calling it now.

I fucking hate Yahoo. Flickr is how I met my wife. Yahoo ruined it. It's like coming back to the neighbourhood bar where you met and discovering it's a badly-run Wetherspoons.

They're a rolling clusterfuck of internet also-rans, hoovering up decent profit-making businesses and shitting them out in an utterly pointless quest to participate in the frothy ad-supported insanity that is the wider internet. I'd have paid for a Flickr Pro account probably until I died, but no, my money wasn't good enough.

Yahoo can die in a fucking fire.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:28 PM on December 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


Yahoo... Flickr... and the death of GNE (game never ending)... I had so many purple papers...
posted by one4themoment at 2:31 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yahoo had this really irritating ad in the UK for a while... can't seem to find it on the web but it was basically just a guy shouting / calling 'Yahoooooo!!!!' in some sort of southern US accent. The ad company really saw them coming there.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:35 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's what I don't understand, with killing this, with killing Google Reader, etc. With all the money these companies blow on useless stupid shit, why kill inexpensive stuff that's either 1) historically important or 2) highly valued by a community?

It's like McDonalds closing its first ever restaurant.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:35 PM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I had already seen my fair share of porn

I commend you on your early awareness of the issue of inequitable porn distribution.
posted by srboisvert at 2:37 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


littlesq: "To warn me about the more naughty parts of the internet, my mom would tell me of the harrowing tale of a kid who wanted to look up a recipe for biscuts so he typed "buns" into a search engine"

Yeah, well... I have a similar story, only mine revolves around goats.
posted by symbioid at 2:37 PM on December 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yahoo had this really irritating ad in the UK for a while... can't seem to find it on the web but it was basically just a guy shouting / calling 'Yahoooooo!!!!' in some sort of southern US accent. The ad company really saw them coming there.

Ah, the Yahoo Yodel.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:39 PM on December 29, 2014


I think Starbucks is moving it's first ever Starbucks again this year.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on December 29, 2014


Not long ago I had a pang of nostalgia about the time that, for a few days, I actually ran out of things to look at on the internet.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2014


Then that month's edition of .net magazine arrived with fresh URLs!
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on December 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


I remember when my friend's page made it into .net and I was so stoked. I think it was his Hexen/Heretic page. It was sweeeeeeeeet! He is, of course, now a professional designer...

Also - sad to see all the hate for the directories. I mean, yeah, Yahoo, LOL... And sure, maybe they're not the greatest, but there's something to the charm of having pages/sites picked by hand and given a topic. In a way that wasn't subverted by spammers and SEO and all that shit. Sure, dmoz still has lots of shitty pages, but it's a great time capsule, and every now and then I do see some newer sites listed there.

I honestly thought the Yahoo directory was long dead at this point. I mean, I was so disappointed when they moved it to merely a link on a sidebar, then I think even that faded away and I just assumed it was dead so I never went there after that. Or maybe it was all the ads. I dunno.

So count me in the pro-dmoz/curated websites.

Speaking of old printed books/zines with URLs, I had an old "Yellow Pages of the Internet" back in the day - I think I lost it, sadly, though maybe it's still floating around in a closet. I still fondly recalling first learning of the term "Simulated Annealing" from that book, printed right there in the "S" section...
posted by symbioid at 3:21 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK everybody, start printing out the Internet on acid-free paper for future generations to enjoy

One of my friends worked at Yahoo back in The Day (he was behind the Useless URLs feature, among other things) and when he left the company before the first dot com boom-crash, they presented him with a special gift: The entirety of the Yahoo directory at that point, printed out in small type and bound in binders. There were many volumes and took up most of a bookshelf. Once when I visited he asked if I wanted to go look for my old website's entry; I did and I found it. Performed a fully non-electronic hard copy Yahoo search, right there. It was possible then and with any luck it's still possible now.

That said, screw 'em sideways for buying and messing up Flickr.
posted by Spatch at 3:57 PM on December 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


I still fondly recalling first learning of the term "Simulated Annealing" from that book
For anyone else wondering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_annealing
posted by slater at 4:04 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


The hamsters are still dancing, right?


It's OK, Artw- the hamsters are still dancing. The hamsters will always still dance. Can you see them? Can you see them dancing? Can you hear the music? The hamsters are dancing, Artw! The hamsters are dancing!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


.
posted by /\/\/\/ at 4:46 PM on December 29, 2014


I just want to reminisce briefly about trying to get a non-spam startup listed on Yahoo and dmoz circa 2001.

Yahoo if I remember right took the money and did nothing, while dmoz just did nothing. So overall dmoz was a much better deal. There was no editor at the time for the subcategory that fit best, and the parent category editor was OK neither with doing something or allowing me to volunteer to curate it (in spite of bona fides).

Next year, I volunteered for Wikipedia, and got to happily exercise my OCDish need to organize stuff for others. Never went back to dmoz. Wikipedia was welcoming to volunteers, while dmoz was like the DMV.
posted by zippy at 5:03 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I never liked Yahoo at all, even back in the 90s. I was a big fan of Excite back then.
posted by DarkForest at 6:38 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Yahoo listing of devices attached to the internet was one of my very favorite things when I first started using Mosaic. FishCam, the Christmas tree you could vote on which lights were activated, the guy who digitally analyzed his webcam to see if his cat was at the bowl, the coffee pot, a Coke machine, etc.

I was talking to Andy Baio at one of the XOXO parties a few months ago and he mentioned at one point you could look at Yahoo to see the new sites that were added to the internet that day, it was a thing that humans could do at one point. Nowadays that list would be so much cruft...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:44 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


New Site lists were a thing before Yahoo; there were a few well respected ones, and new sites would send them notifications which would be curated by the (generally single human) site maintainer, who would visit and inspect the proposed sites and recommend them with an end result much like a modern blog except in hand coded HTML. It's long gone but there was one I followed for about a year back when I was primarily using Arachne to browse.
posted by localroger at 7:28 PM on December 29, 2014


I cut my teeth on Justin's links from the underground, and I remember the Fall of 1994 when a friend turned me on to Yahoo, then hosted at akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo. It was such a revolution at the time to have a massive, hierarchical, and frequently-updated directory of virtually everything you'd want to find on the web. It's certainly an idea that's been superseded by other approaches, but at the time, I think I spent like four hours straight in the computer lab just digging through the hierarchy in categories I didn't even care about, just because it existed.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:35 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder what Jeeves thinks about this, I wish there was a way to Ask him.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:06 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder what Jeeves thinks about this, I wish there was a way to Ask him.

Your Internet is out of date!       Optional bullshit that looks official:
You should download and install     [✓] Ask Toolbars Smeared Everywhere
for incomprehensible reasons        [✓] Intentionally unclear -- if you uncheck these, will the update work?

[✓] I agree the optional bullshit above does NOT make Multi-Billion-Dollar Software, Inc. look sleazy and pathetic --
     especially in the context of a dialog where trust should be important. You must assuage our ego to download.

[  D O W N L O A D  ]
posted by maxwelton at 11:54 PM on December 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


(um, is Yahoo....Rickrolling us?)

Don't let anyone tell you Yahoo is pathetically behind the times...
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


All this hate for Yahoo! Yeah, it's turned into a pathetic lumbering dinosaur searching desperately for nutriment as the environment changes inexorably around it and its tiny brain fizzes in vague alarm, but I got my first personal e-mail account there circa 1997 (I still have it), and I met my wife through a chain of events beginning with Yahoo. So despise it if you must, but there was a time when I got letters with foreign accents by going to the Yahoo front page, clicking on Yahoo!France (say), and copy-and-pasting é or è or whatever it was I needed.

*pours out a drop of Unicode in memoriam*
posted by languagehat at 9:29 AM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ambivalent about Yahoo! I was rather fond of the directories, and they were a useful metric in the mid 1990s to measure against more quality-controlled subject gateways (website indexes) built by academics and librarians in the UK. I even like much, but not all, of what they have done with Flickr, my biggest bugbear being the lack of promotion of the service leading it to being more of a haven for us old timers. But also some sympathy for them as every single change they have made to the service has been met by a wave of "YOU HAVE RUINED FLICKR" protests. They can't win.

And Flickr is still going; I've been on it, heck, nine years now and it's been my default photo storage for most of that time. Unlike Instagram and other services, it's easy to search metadata, and there's still a positive community, and it's dead easy to embed pictures into websites and posts and the like.

But it's that last point that bothers me most of all if, or when, Yahoo! either decides to shutter Flickr, or itself is shuttered or taken over. If Flickr disappears, then there's going to be a hell of a lot - many thousands - of blogs, websites, academic, personal and professional websites, that will be displaying "Cannot retrieve the picture you were expecting to see here" messages. Yeah, not good.

Also, Flickr gives us this.
posted by Wordshore at 10:00 AM on December 30, 2014


I wonder how Crockford is doing since they put a bullet in YUI.
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2014


but I got my first personal e-mail account there circa 1997 (I still have it)

Yahoo! email (I believe in 1996) was the first time I heard that it was possible to get email for free via a public internet space. I had it through the university I went to, but I was not aware that it was available via the web through a browser. It was then that I knew the internet was going in pretty accessibly cool directions.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:26 PM on December 30, 2014


DarkForest: I was a big fan of Excite back then.
Go Altavista or go home. God, how I loved them, pre-Google.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:29 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jesus. Back in '96 my personal web page was a number 1 search result in its category in Yahoo. At one point it was also a #1 hit in Google for the right keyword. Now, it's lost in the murky depths of the 'net. Oh it still exists, I just don't have the time or energy to keep it updated... My web editing is done on my professional profile site, not my stupid joke turned side-project site.

Anyone have a list of the sites that were first included in the original, original photo-Yahoo guide? It would be neat to see how many of those first indexed sites were still alive. I've looked but can't find anyone who has an actual list; the articles about it mention one or two topics but nobody has an actual index that I can find.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2014


caution live frogs: Back in '96 my personal web page was a number 1 search result in its category in Yahoo.
"Friendly Frog Buttholes", is that you?

Sorry about hotlinking to your site in '97. But in my defense, how was I to know that all of my housemates would go there on the same day and crash Earthlinks?
posted by IAmBroom at 4:07 PM on December 31, 2014


Spaceman Stix, I registered my personal hotmail email account on January 1, 1995 (I still have it active, too). I thought I needed a non-work-email address for job-hunting and weird stuff, and well, that was prescient.

Fave search engine in the mid-to-late 90s was Inktomi; man, fucking Yahoo. So much innovation wiped from the salad days of early Internet, but if Livejournal goes the way of Geocities I will truly be saddened.

Tumblr's days are probably numbered as a useful, semi-anonymous online community.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:58 PM on December 31, 2014


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