Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.
Yahoo! has a notice at the top of their Groups page that states that “Starting December 14, 2019 Yahoo Groups will no longer host user created content on its sites. New content can no longer be uploaded after October 28, 2019.”
In the FAQ about the move, it states, “All public groups will be made private or restricted. Any new group members will need to request an invite or be invited by an admin.”
The message assures that communicating within the groups is staying. However, files, links, photos, the calendar, conversations, and message history will be removed. This is a blow to many people, like myself, who use / used YahooGroups for archival purposes. In fact, I heard about this announcement thanks to a tweet by Jason Scott, who works for the Internet Archive. In a follow up, he states the Archive is going to go after it, but due to the short turnaround, it’s going to lose the functionality of search and reference.
Back in the late 1990s, early 2000s, when the internet was still new enough to where hosting your own site or sharing things with others was still a bit of a struggle, many people (myself included) used YahooGroups for fan fiction and for fan discussions. In many ways, it was one of the predecessors to Archive of Our Own.
Additionally, many communities still use YahooGroups as mini-mass mailing options: from churches to Freecycle groups to fan clubs. And while yes, you can still use it to communicate, in today’s day of digital footprints, not having access to message history or files that explain some of the more frequently asked questions of that community makes this virtually useless.
There are definitely other options for this kind of service. Here are two main ones.
Groups.io has been around for a while, and they have updated their instructions on how to transfer from YahooGroups to reflect this news. Their free basic group doesn’t let you directly add members, so you will need to pay for a Premium ($110 / year) or Enterprise plan if you don’t want to rely on your group members to sign up on their own.
There is also Google Groups, and while they haven’t updated anything as far as I can see to acknowledge the change, I would recommend perusing their Help Page for Groups before signing up to confirm it’s what you want.
Having two Google Groups myself, I know that for those members who don’t have a GMail account, it’s exceedingly difficult for them to access the web-based parts of the Group, such as the message archive and files. Meanwhile, you have to register for a groups.io login if you want access to the files and archives.
Fanlore’s Tumblr posted a note about this news, and stated that the Organization for Transformative Works (home of the AO3) is working on preserving archives as well. Here’s their post on it, with instructions for how to move your content to Fanlore.
The worst part of this is that there was no notice given to group owners, and the information about the change has been going around like gossip. Which is a bit ironic, considering that most of us use YahooGroups to communicate with large groups of people.
So, if you still belong to a YahooGroup, you might want to reach out to the moderators to confirm they know this is happening, and see if there’s a way to help archive past messages.
You can see more of Angie’s work and her social media connections over at her website.