Tara sent me a note that caused me to read the ResearchBuzz article on Yahoo Labs before I had a chance to find it in my aggregator. While I'm impressed that the article doesn't point out the obvious (that it looks like a copycat maneuver in the Google war--nobody could think of a name other than "labs"?) right away, that's not what struck me about it. Neither is the fact that she paid me a nice complement at the end. :-)
What hit a nerve for me was this:
There needs to be more communication between Yahoo users and Yahoo. I had a question about AltaVista news last week, and the only communication tool I could find at AltaVista was an online form. (I used it but nobody at AltaVista ever responded.) And Yahoo needs to have some kind of intention about what they're going to do for search--not just following Google but striking off in their own direction.
I couldn't agree more. I think that Yahoo needs to get beyond using stupid comment forms that generate e-mail into a pseudo-CRM system as their primary vehicle for user feedback. There's been a lot of buzz at, around, and about Yahoo and RSS and weblogs. Yahoo needs to realize that this technology is used to open up communication and that this really ought include communication with and among Yahoo's users.
Several times, in discussions with PR/Marketing type folks, I've pushed for a more open feedback system. When Yahoo launches a new product or service, I think users deserve an open forum in which to communicate with Yahoo and each other about it. A form to e-mail system ensures that Yahoo will see their feedback (at least in aggregate), but nobody else will. Not even other interested users. I suspect that if Yahoo supplied a Yahoo Group for user feedback on a new product launch, the result would be open and honest feedback as well as new ideas. Users would interact with each other and share ideas for improving the new product or service. Yahoo would benefit and Yahoo's users would benefit.
Yes, there'd be spam, bitching and moaning, and so on. Does that mean it's not worth doing? I think not.
Really, it's not all that different than Asking Questions in Public. By not offering a Yahoo hosted place to discuss such things, Yahoo is turning a blind eye to the positive effects of the communities that form around new ideas, products, and services. Those who happen to have weblogs will probably end up posting their rants or praise in blogspace. Then the Yahoo PR, Marketing, and Product Managers will end up searching Feedster and following TrackBacks to find out what users are thinking and saying. (Don't get me started on the irony in that statement.)
I'm not saying people shouldn't blog their reactions and ideas. But if it's the only real mechanism to get it out in the open, that's bothersome to me. Isn't Yahoo, in large part, a communications platform?
I thought so.
On the plus side, I think that in the near future it'll become apparent that Yahoo is not simply following Google's lead. The intention is there. Trust me on that one.
Posted by jzawodn at January 20, 2004 12:02 AM