Yahoo is erasing an important part of Internet history, again

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Yahoo in a support document notes that Groups will technically continue to exist, although all groups will be made private or restricted and you’ll need to request an invite to join them. Furthermore, virtually all of the site’s features – photos, files, attachments, message history and so on – will be going away. You’ll still be able to communicate with others via e-mail, we’re told.

Groups was launched in 2001 as a hybrid Internet forum / mailing list. Use of the service has undoubtedly dwindled in recent years given the emergence of social media platforms and similar forms of sharing. Still, there’s roughly 18 years’ worth of data in the archives and it’s all going to disappear soon. Quite literally, Yahoo is destroying a piece of Internet history – a time capsule, if you will.

And it’s not the first time it has happened.

In 2009, Yahoo shut down its GeoCities web hosting platform. The long-running service allowed anyone to create a website for free with no questions asked. In the days before social media, it was one of the best ways to make your voice heard online. With its closure, an estimated 38 million webpages vanished from the Internet.

Yahoo encourages users to download photos and files from Yahoo Groups or via the Privacy Dashboard. Again, you’ll want to do so ASAP as the servers will be wiped clean in the coming months.

Masthead credit: Yahoo by dennizn

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That's why nowadays whenever I find forum posts, threads or articles with useful, valuable or interesting information, I archive and backup them locally. I have a knowledge base folder with gigabytes of archived forum threads in pdf format. It's not only services shutting down, there are multiple reasons they can go away - for example, I had once bookmarked some forum thread with very useful tips and advice on advanced Windows Server administration topics. The conversation was fully civil, courteous and on topic. When I acessed the thread a couple of years later, most posts in the topic had been deleted by a moderator, for no damn reason at all (and no reason given)... luckily, there was an untouched copy of the thread in the Internet Archive.

It's terrible to see most forums and group lists such as Yahoo dying and being replaced by things such as Facebook, Discord or Twitter, were information is a lot more ephemeral and difficult to search and archive. These are some of the companies I'd love to see "shutting everything down"...