Well, it seems that I get to quote Greg Linden a second time today. He points to the Yahoo's Personality Crisis article (subscription only, heh) that's been stirring up a bit of discussion about whether Yahoo! will be opened or closed. Is Yahoo! going to build a walled garden or give users what they really want, regardless of where the content lives: on Yahoo! or elsewhere?

In his posting, he says:

I'm more optimistic than the Economist that Yahoo will be open. Yahoo's recent features seem to trend toward embracing content from non-Yahoo sites. I suspect Yahoo will seek to have the best content on Yahoo, but will pull in good content from wherever on the Web it resides.

Well said, Greg.

If the trend hasn't been obvious in the past couple of years, more non-Yahoo hosted content has been appearing on Yahoo since... well, probably since the early days when Yahoo did little more that point you to other stuff on the Web. Look at what we did with My Yahoo!. Check Yahoo! News. Not to mention the bazillions of RSS feeds we've been pumping out: News, Search, Flickr, Finance, Groups, 360, My Web, and more. Yahoo! is probably one of the biggest f'ing aggregators of third party content in the world.

The day that the walls start to go up around the garden is the day I find myself another job. The Internet is a better place when we knock down those walls--not build them. I want no part of building them.

Posted by jzawodn at August 15, 2005 09:50 PM

Reader Comments
# Mike said:

Except of course for Yahoo's directory, which remains - and always has been - totally closed, and charges the most astronomical recurring inclusion fee on the web.

on August 15, 2005 11:36 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I rest my case. That move was probably the final nail in the coffin, wasn't it?

Not that dmoz is much better off either. It seems that directories just aren't what they used to be, for better or worse.

Are there any good ones out there?

on August 15, 2005 11:47 PM
# Mike said:

I remember hearing about an "open source/wiki" directory proposal/project. Similar to DMOZ, but like Wikipedia - anybody could add links then the community "agrees" on them. Can't remember if it was HEDIR (http://www.hedir.com), or maybe this: http://wiki.apache.org/directory/ProjectProposal

I can't think of any big diretories that are really good - Yahoo's next to impossible to get into unless you pay, DMOZ is slightly less difficult to get into, Zeal doesn't seem to be worthwhile.

"Strongest" Links:

on August 16, 2005 12:06 AM
# James MacAonghus said:

I think the concept of walled garden can be broader than the negative connotations that AOL and the mobile operators have given it. AOL's walled garden is/was one with high walls and the idea was for the plants to be AOLTW-created. Yahoo may be aggregating content from across the web, and it may not lock you in the walled garden, but it is creating a garden so attractive that you would not want to leave anyway.

It is like the difference between a zoo with cages and a zoo with open enclosures ;) .

Look at it the other way - Google is a truer non-walled-garden (although it is changing, of course) because there is very little incentive to stay within the Google environment. Google pushes you out as soon as possible (a couple of months ago there was a blog post, maybe yours or from Russell Beattie but I cannot find it, explaining the different attitudes to RSS from Google and Yahoo which made some relevant points about this desire to keep users or push them away).

Ultimately one of the main reasons for wanting to retain users on one's website is advertising reach. Google has compensated by extending its advertising reach (last time I checked this included aol.com, weather.com, about.com, netscape.com, tripod.com, ask.com, comcast.net, earthlink.net, nytimes.com, bizrate.com, blogspot.com, usatoday.com, shopping.com, macromedia.com, infospace.com, lycos.com, nih.gov, reference.com, webmd.com, att.net, com.com and of course the excellent Zawodny blog...). Whereas Yahoo has not until recently had this ability to extend its advertising tentacles to the same extent and so has opted for bringing users within its network.

It is a long stated goal of Yahoo to keep users within its network, to use search as glue, to cross-promote channels etc, so although this is not strictly a walled garden, the effect is similar for users. Yahoo's move towards Hollywood will further add to this effect. The walls will not go up around Yahoo, but the amount of candy being offered means Yahoo can keep you there without them.

I have nothing against such a strategy – I think the term walled garden is a little misleading because I can leave Yahoo whenever I want, but the idea of retention within the network remains active nonetheless.

[I am trying to control myself from saying that Yahoo’s strategy has elements of “if you love something let it go, if it’s yours it will come back to you” …oh, I’ve gone and done it now …].

on August 16, 2005 02:58 AM
# Karl said:

This is a stretch, but I think blogrolls on influential blogs, and niche blogs, have partially replaced the service directories used to provide.

on August 16, 2005 03:36 AM
# Guillaume said:

I trackbacked you on and then blogged about another story that I think can be related to this trend of opening the webservices to external contents.
This was the story:
I'd love to read your opinion on that.

on August 16, 2005 09:11 AM
# Glenn said:

I am very surprised that you do not see Yahoo's organic search as a walled garden in any way??? In your famous note to fellow Yahoo staffers on blogging, you commented on all the "crazies" trying to reach Yahoo about organic search penalties etc. through your blog. Jeremy, as one who has had a legitimate website penalized by Yahoo, I can tell you that the walls to the organic search folks reach to the heavens. The set of nebulous 'guidelines' that Yahoo posts will never replace a simple email response to a request for a review with a specific, "you are doing THIS and we will re-index your website once it is changed/corrected." That would be too simple. That would take away any excuse for bias or other 'reasons' Yahoo may have to eliminate one website, but keep another.

on August 16, 2005 10:03 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


You have your facts wrong.

I've never written about "crazies" and organic search penalties.

Besides, you claim to have had a legitimate site penalized but don't say what the site is. Why not?

If we gave spammers an exact list of guidelines for how to get banned (or not banned), what do you think they'd do? Seriously.

on August 16, 2005 10:19 AM
# Glenn said:

Well Jeremy, glad you asked...

First, I admit you never mentioned the words 'organic search', but in your post - http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/004725.html - you did say this to your fellow Yahoo! employees.

"and crazy people looking for anyway they can to get in touch with Yahoo."

Who were you referring to when you said crazy people?

I suggest to you that people can very easily become 'crazy' when they try and deal with Yahoo! organic search. Our company has tried for 14 months to simply talk with a reasonable human being to find out what in the world we have been doing wrong, so that we can FIX it immediately. We are not spammers or anything of the sort. But the fact that Yahoo decides to penalize our company tells the rest of the world, "well, they must be bad."

Whereas I admire your loyalty, really Jeremy, Yahoo needs to work on its customer service.

So, here it is.

Our website is http://www.mostreferred.com - we once over 30,000 pages indexed in Yahoo and today 1. We have been in business since 1997 and are a recognized industry leader. One of industry competitors (a Yahoo real estate channel partner by the way) has over 1 MILLION pages indexed in Yahoo and they are guilty of several 'guideline' infractions - http://www.homes.com - do a site:homes.com in Yahoo Search and see for yourself. They have 3rd, 4th, 5th level virtual domains all pointing to the same pages (duplicate content) and yet, NO PENALTY.

Oh yes, there are walls Jeremy. One just wonders why they exist?

on August 16, 2005 07:59 PM
# Glenn said:

Sorry Jeremey, but one more thought.

Your comment at the very end of your reply says, "If we gave spammers an exact list of guidelines for how to get banned (or not banned), what do you think they'd do? Seriously."

With all due respect, this makes my point. Somehow, you accept that anyone who is penalized is a "spammer". Spammers deserve your wrath - legitimate businesses, especially those who are on the side of pure, organic search, should receive a different response.

It is very simple Jeremy. Look at the registrar records of the domain, check the website, see if there are real people to contact and a history of doing business on the web and, if there is something you do not like, let them know - BE SPECIFIC. If you choose not to - well, yes, everyone is a spammer.

on August 16, 2005 08:10 PM
# Mike said:

Man, homes.com must be worth a boatload of cash. Even just the domain name itself.

on August 16, 2005 09:29 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I guess you haven't noticed, but I've been removing your URL from the posts here. You can't follow simple directions. See, above the box where you type it it is a label that reads: "Weblog URL (no weblog? leave it blank)".

But you've been spamming it with your web site, which is most certainly not a weblog.

Was it unclear? Were you confused about what a weblog is? Please tell me how I can clarify this.

Right now your behavior does not inspire confidence in your ability to stay within the bounds of "reasonable" promotion of your site.

Having said that, I'll pass along your complanit to the search folks. I assume you've already contacted ystfeedback@yahoo.com, right?

on August 17, 2005 02:22 PM
# Karl said:

Boy this discussion has got off track :)

One thing I would love to see by a service - feed it my opml file - and create a custom search bounded by RSS posts from sites in it. Add an API so that I can integrate it elsewhere and I'll be really, really happy.

on August 17, 2005 04:41 PM
# Glenn said:


First, I do apologize for the web address being inserted into your comments form area. My Safari browser auto-populates forms and I truly missed it.

Secondly, you love to jump to conclusions and really like the word spammer don't you? Rather than face the issue that I have clearly presented you with, you prefer to counter charge with name calling. First, you insinuated that I purposely hid the URL of our legitimate website that has been penalized and now that I am spamming your blog.

Oh yes, numerous emails have been sent to all of the Yahoo addresses to ask for a review and clear explanation so that we can fix the error. For 14 months we get the same response, "see our guidelines". We have had 3 SEO firms (at a large expense to us) all review our site and they all offered the same advice.... we are abiding by the guidelines while Yahoo! real estate channel partners are not.

Common Jeremy, look into it for yourself. Something doesn't add up here.

on August 17, 2005 05:01 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Now that I know you've done the basics, I will look into it.

on August 17, 2005 05:10 PM
# Glenn said:


I would be truly grateful. Our frustration is born out of the fact that our site has been the target of page hijackers in the past (when you are popular and successful you are a target), as well as being penalized by Yahoo and not truly understanding why.

Our company and its very reputation has been built upon integrity and taking customer service to the extreme. We want to contribute, as I do believe you do as well, to making the web better for everyone, everyday.

All the best - you have my personal email.

Glenn Davies

on August 17, 2005 05:45 PM
# Joe said:

You mention Yahoo News as proof that Yahoo is open. For several months, Yahoo News has been closed to all but the very largest news sites that agree to host their content on Yahoo. Yahoo News has not adding any new small to medium sized publishers who host their content on their own sites for many, many months. Yahoo still has a source suggestion form so publishers believe they have a chance at getting added, but the truth is Yahoo News has been closed for repairs for quite some time. Check with your internal people and you will see I am right. During this time, Google has been actively adding additional news sources including a nice cross-section of small, medium, and large content publishers. This is why Google is winning the search engine battle. At Yahoo, the walls are going up around the garden.

on August 20, 2005 10:32 PM
# Matt said:

I've heard such bad things about the Yahoo directory anyway. Like it only gives about 50 clicks a month, and doesn't give a true link to your site. I'm not paying $300 for that.

on September 23, 2006 10:02 PM
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