Yes, I am listening, Nathan. But I saw your posting just before heading to SDForum this morning.

I also hate autoresponders. Want proof? See the post I wrote about Feedback Forms in the Age of Weblogs over a year ago.

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.

The good news is that for every service we launch on, including Y!Q, we've offered a public message board. Now I won't try to claim that it's great greatest message board UI the world has ever seen, but it sure beats the insulting black hole auto-responders.

Oh, and we do read blogs too. Care to guess how many Yahoos sent me a link to your post while I was out today?

Anyway, it looks like there's something funky with your Y!Q implementation. I'll get the details to you via e-mail tomorrow after I confirm a few things with one of the backend engineers. They game me a quick diagnosis this afternoon but I want to make sure I've got the details right.

Posted by jzawodn at May 24, 2005 09:18 PM

Reader Comments
# Nathan Weinberg said:

Jeremy, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. The moment I saw that autoresponder I said to myself, "This support system is broken, I'm more likely to get a response if I blog it". I have more faith in the support system that exists between bloggers and the companies that actually pay attention (and Yahoo is certainly one of them) than in standard support forms.

I look forward to hearing how to fix my Y!Q, since I've been excited for a while, trying to figure out how to implement it.

One suggestion: Since they are likely to keep the autoresponder, how about changing the line that basically says "We may not respond to your request". That basically makes anyone with a serious problem give up hope. How about, "Due to a high volume, we cannot respond to everyone. However, if you are having a technical issue that requires assistance, we can assure you someone will look into the problem and get back to you". That would go a long way.

on May 24, 2005 09:49 PM
# Gabe said:

This reminds me of the My Yahoo! feedback I left on January 13. (ID: MM27264406V70345L0KM)

Basically, the "Add to my Yahoo!" links that come up in Yahoo search results can utilize old, dead RSS feeds. Feeds that have long been 404. Even when a site announces the new feed URL via .

Just checked again, and the problem still exists.

Sure wish there was a My Yahoo! blogger. ( there?)

on May 24, 2005 10:41 PM
# Gabe said:

My "Even when a site..." sentence above got chopped since I included sample markup. Doh!

Second take:

Even when a site specifies the new feed URL via 'link rel="alternate" ... title="RSS" ...', Yahoo Search does not update its 'Add to My Yahoo!' link. (At least in my sorry case.)

on May 24, 2005 10:48 PM
# Kevin Scaldeferri said:

Ugh... IMO, this sort of thing sets a really bad precedent. What are we saying? You must have a blog to get Yahoo! to listen to your opinion / feedback? (Moreover, you must have a sufficiently high-profile blog that Y! insiders read you.)

Do we really want "ranting on your blog" to be our primary form of user feedback?

on May 25, 2005 12:17 AM
# Tom Norian said:

Sure would be nice to have a revenue sharing contextual search engine setting.

Some search engines going to do it on a small user scale then each of us can create custom human enhanced search criteria building upon the big guys bots and get a share of the revenue for our human editing/critquing of various seach results.

People would only use our sites if our content and edits to the basic search created value from them.

I might go to your search box to type in web queries, salon's search box for arts and politics, some local innkeepers site for vacation or history info in the locality of his inn...etc

Search engines say it costs too much to have humans review pages so why not revenue share with publishers on enhancements they can dream up to improve results?

on May 25, 2005 12:48 AM
# Guillaume said:

This is the one and only thig MSN does better than Yahoo...Ok I agree the MSN chat support via webIM are not alsways managed by knowledgful hotliners but at least you get to "talk to someone" and you're heard.
I've been suggesting similar chat session at yahoo for about 4 years...still nothing but an automatic message.

The most stupid thing is that Yahoo Help has ALWAYS been the dark point mentionned by every specialist and has always prevented Yahoo from keeping the leading place in their technology...

They should really wake up on that point

on May 25, 2005 01:03 AM
# Mike said:

Wow, farechase is pretty cool!

on May 25, 2005 01:25 AM
# Prasun said:

I wish had a RSS feed!

on May 25, 2005 03:40 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Kevin: No, not at all. But to treat everyone with those forms is insulting. I don't like that at all. We need to use whatever medium is right for the person we're talking to.

on May 25, 2005 06:30 AM
# Vijaychandran said:

Hi jeremy .

The is reallu good . I was reallly wondering where can i find one site which can describe the new things going in yahoo but luckily i am pretyy much excited about the site.


on May 25, 2005 06:34 AM
# KANA said:

Random Fact: Every email answered by a human costs around a dollar.

on May 25, 2005 02:37 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Well, Mike (err, I mean KANA), I wonder how much more valuable I'd be if I didn't answer so damned much email!

Maybe I could save the company money by ignoring people? :-)

Makes you wonder what a blog post--or even a comment costs.

on May 25, 2005 02:51 PM
# KANA (aka Mike) said:

Just posting a random fact. I'm not a big fan of auto-responses, but does anyone actually read every Message Boards post? Is there an easy way to farm all that data?

on May 25, 2005 03:17 PM
# Kris Snod said:

Sasso out? Hmm. Jeremy, how do I contact you? I got on Flickr thanks to you. Awesome.

on May 25, 2005 04:37 PM
# jr said:

I've always loved the idea of treating customers as being smart. A number of companies I know of (e.g. Dreamhost) let their customers add comments to various help pages they created. They simply go through and moderate on occassion, adding clarification where need be or removing abusive posts. In effect, they let their own users be their principle tech support. Oddly, it works fairly well.

In Y!'s case, it might help because often answers or "help" doesn't always answer someone's specific question, so folks click on the "No" button and get the customer feedback form, where they fire off the same question that's been asked before, (costing the mythical $1).

I happily concede that Y! Customer Support are the hardest working couple of people you'll ever meet, but there are ways to make things easier on them.

on May 25, 2005 08:09 PM
# Robert Oschler said:

I think Y!Q is neat technology but there is one thing that is definitely going to slow it's adoption. Right now it's a giant exit ramp off your site with no return path. This is quadruple the liability if the web site is a revenue generating site.

If Yahoo really wants webmasters to adopt Y!Q quickly, there should be a big fat link on the top of the Yahoo contextual results page that leads back to the originating site; preferably with a small logo specifiable in the Y!Q parameters. The link should stay there for the duration of the user's session.

Also, if you have any hope of attracting the giant pool of AdSense webmasters, the contextual ads shown on the results should share revenue with the originating site.

Just my IMHO. If you really want the conversational fur to fly and get some more opinions Jeremy, just make a post on the Webmaster world forum asking questions that reflect these points. They pull no punches over there:

Some relevant threads:

Robert Oschler
Robosapien Dance Machine
SourceForge Project Of The Month, May 2005

on June 4, 2005 09:09 AM
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