Yahoo 360 revisited
December 10, 2005
Early in the year, I wrote up my initial impressions of the newly-released Yahoo 360, which I was excited by at the time. I’ve been thinking that it’s time for an update after 8 months or so.
Within a couple weeks of 360 starting, the main thing that my friends were using it for was blasts. Now, almost the only thing my friends seem to be using it for is to point to their real blogs — which I read anyway — or lame feeds, which I don’t want to read. I couldn’t care less about yet another source for people’s Technorati searches, Flickr photostreams, Delicious folders, or (god help us) ESPN articles about the NFL — and the way 360 displays feeds is truly horrible anyway (the first 50 words or so without any formatting). So Yahoo 360 has essentially become an attractively-designed but totally unfunctional RSS feed aggregator for me. (I realize that your mileage may vary, because I’m guessing I have an unusually high proportion of friends with non-360 blogs who were interested in using the feed import feature.)
The 360 team also recently did something that especially irked me: without my consent, they made it possible for all my Yahoo Messenger contacts to see my 360 content via their underexplained “Favorites” program. Dudes… I have business contacts in my YM list! I can’t figure out how to stop seeing their feeds, or how to make it so they can’t see my content, or even how to preview my page as a Favorite so I can see what they’re seeing. I understand that Yahoo wants to grow the 360 userbase, and YM integration might seem like a good idea… but I ended up feeling like Yahoo is putting their business interests over my privacy interests, not to put too fine a point on it. It’s ironic that they’d do this after spending so much time building such a complicated and fine-grained system for controlling access to the network.
The one thing 360 seems unusually good at — visual design and CSS — is something that Yahoo traditionally doesn’t value as much as they should. The 360 layout has always won praise for its clean but updated look; and the homepage skin system is actually pretty sweet. If it were me, I’d try to play to my strength in these areas: for instance, letting users show and hide various parts of the page via CSS; or letting the team actually work on a real web-based RSS reader that doesn’t suck; or having a decent YM interface from 360 (e.g. not a popup alert saying “ymsgr is not a registered protocol”).
Maybe I’m just grumpy because I’m not seeing new features, and some longstanding “bugs” seem to not be getting fixed (e.g. replying to blasts via pseudo-email) and my personal 360 experience has devolved due to my lame friends and their dumb RSS feeds. I’m ready and eager for the 360 team to prove me wrong… but in the meantime, can you just roll back the YM Favorites thing please?