Back a few months ago when I asked How to revamp Yahoo! Groups?, I got a ton of great comments.

Many folks suggested that we provide an API. And now that I'm part of the Yahoo! Developer Network, I'd like to dig into that request a bit deeper.

What would you like to see in a Yahoo! Groups API? How would you [like to] use it?

Also, if you're not currently a Yahoo! Groups user, please note that in your response.

Posted by jzawodn at June 27, 2006 01:19 PM

Reader Comments
# Jacob Kaplan-Moss said:

We currently use Google Groups to coordinate development of Django.

There usually turns out to be some redundancy between the django-developers mailing list and the comments posted to our ticket/bug tracker. I'd love to be able to use an API to automatically attach messages to the list to certain tickets (probably based on a subject match or some sort).

Yeah, I could probably do this with RSS feeds now, but an explicit API would move it from my "someday" list to me "ten minute hacks" list, and that's always a good thing.

on June 27, 2006 01:39 PM
# Rick Burnes said:

Whatever the API does, uses of it will be more robust if the commercial-use terms are not overly restrictive.
It would be great to see a Groups API with terms along these lines:

on June 27, 2006 01:53 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Dumb that down for me. You need an API from Y! Groups that lets you do what? Retrieve all messages since last time you checked?

The integration with a ticketing system is clever, but I'm trying to figure out where to draw the line between what we'd offer and what you'd do with it.

on June 27, 2006 01:53 PM
# saurab said:

1. would be great if Yahoo Groups could be used as a backend, for storing all messages and stuff, and then pulling out messages via an API to use on one's own sites..... Could also look into making the API commercial.

2. ability to ping yahoo's servers to see if there are any new messages from the last time the API was called. That'll reduce redundant API usage: or something that mimics HTTP conditional GET

3. RSS and transparent OPML support for consolidating feeds for all one's subscriptions.

4. search for groups related to a given group.

5. search for groups that have at least or at most X members with activity levels in between A posts/day and B posts/day.

6. ability to rate a group over all... and then use this data collectively.... for recommendations etc

7. creating new groups via the API

8. creating new posts via XMLRPC (blogger/metaweblog) or something like that ... maybe even REST

9. mapping a group to a blog via 8 above. group moderator = blog owner. thread starters = blog contributors. replies to threads = blog comments, etc etc.

10. unlimited usage and commercial license (for those who need it)

11. dont add any "cool" things like maps and all that : that's the job of the mashup guys.

on June 27, 2006 02:00 PM
# dv said:

1. add/delete/edit users.
2. add/delete/edit users.
3. add/delete/edit users.
4. retrieve messages

on June 27, 2006 02:37 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


What does it mean to "edit" a user?

on June 27, 2006 02:39 PM
# Gregor J. Rothfuss said:

This might be a good time for Yahoo to expose an Atom API. Doing one-off APIs for each service can only get you so far, so a more integrated / abstracted API might be worth exploring.

Some examples from elsewhere:

on June 27, 2006 02:39 PM
# Jacob Kaplan-Moss said:

Jeremy --

Yeah, I was vague because I don't know exactly what format such an API would take.

A simple way would be a "give me every post since [date]" call. That right there would be more useful than RSS since I don't have to worry about missing posts that "drop off the bottom" of the RSS feed.

Another nice feature would be to have threads to first-class objects so I could store some sort of thread ID of "interesting" threads and regularly ask if there are more posts in a given thread.

What would be super useful would be a way to construct pretty sophisticated queries against the mailing list so I could ask questions like "show me every post since [date] with [some string] in the subject line".

I also second Gregor's suggestion of using the Atom API for this -- Atom's super easy for us Python geeks to consume.

Oh, and an interface for *posting* to a list (again, Atom's a good idea here) would be extremely helpful as well -- in my ticket-mailinglist-integration example it would rock to be able to feed data both ways.

on June 27, 2006 03:27 PM
# Alex said:

This isn't really an API suggestion as such, but is important for openness. At least to list administrators, provide a full mbox archive export (this can be provided for convenience built on whatever message download the api offers). If I find Yahoo Groups isn't what I want, I want to be able to take my list archives with me. There is clearly demand for this as proved by the existence of tools such as Yahoo! Group Archiver, yahoo2mbox, and a couple of others easily found via a search. In much the same way that mailman hosted mailing lists allow mbox downloads for archives to list subscribers, yahoo groups should do the same (though for non-administrator users, email addresses should probably be censored).

on June 27, 2006 03:45 PM
# Raghu said:

Try and make available as an API things such as searching for groups by title. Or searching within a group for a pattern or checking # of messages in a group in a given time.

Also extra stuff like Yahoo group-wide user details like groups belonged to/all posts etc. Naturally everything would respect the groups and user setttings.

on June 27, 2006 04:05 PM
# Dan said:

RSS Feeds for private groups would be super duper.

on June 27, 2006 05:14 PM
# Dan said:

...and the ability to have messages from my private Groups listed on my My.Yahoo page (just like public Groups)

on June 27, 2006 05:17 PM
# pmp said:

* Statistics for the group.
- Number of messages for a given time period.
- Number of messages for a given member in that period.

* Private group RSS that doesn't use Yahoo cookie authentication.

on June 27, 2006 05:52 PM
# SLS said:

I've been using Yahoo Groups since before they bought the service, and am a member of quite a number of these groups. The number one thing people have wanted to do and been stymied by is the inability to get at our own data, both to put it in and to take it out.

Consider a group that has an email list and decides to go to a web forum. We may have a list of messages with date/time, sender, subject, etc. and we have no way to import these messages into the group. Similarly, if we want to take all the messages from a given interval of time, or on a certain subject, and export them to flat files so we can use them in a newsletter, handbook, etc., it's a very tedious and time-consuming process of manually scraping the pages.

Any kind of an import/export API would be tremendously valuable.

Thanks for asking.


on June 27, 2006 06:27 PM
# Mark Baker said:

I don't have any requirements, but I'd like to recommend that any API reuses the same URIs that Groups already publishes. They've done a great job at mapping out their URI space, no need to invent a whole new URI space for automata.

on June 27, 2006 07:16 PM
# Andrew said:

If you want to build yahoo groups traffic, you need to do a rev-share on the ads you show, with the group owner. That alone would make a massive difference to take up and promotion of the groups.

on June 28, 2006 01:27 AM
# Joseph Smarr said:

Access to the address book / recipient list would be great. Ideally it would support full sync (get inserted/updated/deleted entries since a given timestamp, send back IDs for any entries you tell it to add), but a simple read/write access API would be better than nothing. This would allow people that keep their address book somewhere other than Yahoo Groups (which is most people, I'd imagine) to use it within Groups (e.g. manage the list, see other contact info for the members). For instance, we could write a Plaxo sync conduit to Groups, which could in turn sync with Outlook, Mac, Tbird, or any of the other places we can sync to. Same would go for the calendar, which I bet is quite under-used in groups because everyone keeps their primary calendar somewhere else. Thanks, js

on June 28, 2006 08:55 AM
# cooper said:

Exposing one of the standard blog interfaces --actually, full Atom Protocol with the queries and all would be great -- for posting would be keen. RSS feeds as mentioned. CalDAV/something similar (maybe even GData?) would rock as well. LDAP for users would be nice.

If the whole "Database" thing is sticking around, some way to manipulate it from outside the web interface,

on June 28, 2006 10:17 AM
# J$ said:

Each group should have a URL dereferencable FOAF representation.

on June 28, 2006 10:39 AM
# Nick Arnett said:

I wish I could figure out the motivation for all of us in community to share statistical data, so that we can discover and use the social networks that cross vendor boundaries. Of course, it would be a trick to do it in a way that preserves privacy.

As for specifics... I'll echo those who ask for a way to grab and keep track of threads and individuals. I'd also like a search API... When I'm not busy in the plumbing of databases and such, I love working on linguistic analysis of communities -- how is the language of the community changing over time, that sort of thing. This is a topic that I'd be happy to have a serious brainstorming session about... perhaps with the Flock folks?

on June 28, 2006 11:25 AM
# Venkatesh said:

Hi Jeremy,
Here are few requests. Before I request em, here is the background. I am a member on quite a few motorcycle groups, we maitain a seperate website for hosting blog/stories/photos and use yahoo groups for communications.Would like Yahoo groups to be one stop shop for all of this.

1. WOuld like to have an API to publish ride calendar on our website.
2. Would like to have a feature, where by I could list certain conversations/threads on my blog/website. This should be based on context. Lets say we are discussing regarding rides to "north california", list some of the conversations on in a iframe/ or page which shows related threads.
3. Please improve photos and allow me to stream our group photos on blog/other websites like flickr. Again streaming should be contextual.
4. Subgroup all the group members into Yahoo messenger and provide an option of adding all/some/none of them to messenger buddy list.
5. Categories, please provide categories for discussions. Like "Rides and Events", "tech talk", etc. One should be able to subscribe to certain categories, not all.
6. For public groups, provide RSS for categories, instead of all the messages. Without categories , its simply overwhelming and thus un-useable.


on June 28, 2006 01:10 PM
# dv said:


What does it mean to "edit" a user?

basically, update their email address. i run a community site with around 350 members. i store their details on my site, but we used to use Yahoo Groups for the mailing list. it was unfortunate that members had to sign up in 2 places (community site and Yahoo). we would like for members to sign up on our site, and our site can then add them to our Yahoo Group through an API (and subsequently update or delete their email address as needed).

on June 29, 2006 10:41 AM
# Dean said:

> we would like for members to sign up on our site, and our
> site can then add them to our Yahoo Group through an API
> (and subsequently update or delete their email address as
> needed).

It seems to me that they would already have to be a Yahoo member before you could add them to your Yahoo Group, so they would still have to sign up twice.

What I'm wondering is if third-party community sites could just let Yahoo handle the login and authorization. The third-party site could check for a cookie or something, and redirect them to the login page for the Yahoo Group if the cookie's not there. Yahoo could handle the login and check that they are a member of the group, then redirect back to the third-party site with the cookie set.

I've seen some discussions on having an open single-signon approach like, but it sure would be easier if an existing company that already has a ton of users would implement something like it...

on June 29, 2006 11:37 AM
# Adnan Siddiqi said:

I dont know much but I would certainly like to have following features.

User point of view
1)Retrieve posts via Atom/RSS feeds of a group.
2)get Alert of *newly posted message*


Some sort of ways to delete/approve posts.

on July 7, 2006 12:18 AM
# Chad Richardson said:

Would like an way to add groups to home page!

on July 9, 2006 10:02 AM
# Ricardo Dias Marques said:

Hi all,

Thanks to Jeremy for this opportunity to express our opinions about a Yahoo Groups API. I'm an owner of one Yahoo Group, a moderator of several others and a user of many others.

I would like to second Dean's suggestion concerning third-party community sites "associated" with a Yahoo Group (I write a further comment below the following Dean's quote).

Dean wrote:
> What I'm wondering is if third-party community sites
> could just let Yahoo handle the login and authorization.
> The third-party site could check for a cookie or
> something, and redirect them to the login page for the
> Yahoo Group if the cookie's not there. Yahoo could
> handle the login and check that they are a member of the
> group, then redirect back to the third-party site with
> the cookie set.

I think this is a GREAT idea!

I believe the "first" part of Dean's suggestion - "delegating" the AUTHENTICATION part ("login process") to Yahoo - is already possible, by using the Flick Authentication API:

But, I think that the "second" part of Dean's suggestion - "delegating" the AUTHORIZATION part (so that Yahoo checks if a user is a member of the group) is NOT yet possible.
So, I agree with Dean here: it would be really COOL to see this being implemented by Yahoo! :)

Any further feedback on this by Jeremy (or others) would be greatly appreciated.

on July 9, 2006 03:04 PM
# Chris Conn said:

What I would like to see is a way to customize it. But by customizing it, I mean implement it as a feature of an existing web site. So that it doesn't have the huge Yahoo logo at the top (but perhaps put a smaller image at the bottom of the list of messages).

That way, it has the same appearance as the site for which the group exists.
Kind of like putting the messages and the menu choices into it's own DIV onto an existing website, even with the sponser information at the bottom as it is on the yahoo groups website.

If not that, a way to download the messages from Google to incorporate into an existing web site. The first one would be the desired method.

on July 17, 2006 08:52 AM
# Freakzoid said:

My suggestions:
Message rate and moderator selected messages on top.

on July 29, 2006 08:54 AM
# Alex Schultz said:

This may sound a touch silly but at eBay I work a lot with the eBay API and I love the Auth and Auth functionality we use. It would be brilliant if Yahoo had something similar for the groups API.

I built a website for the boatclub I was a member of in the UK (people reading please don't criticize too much it does all the 20% that accounts for the 80% of the club use and is 10x better than it's predecessor but I know there is more I can do... for a master class in sports club websites see built by martin peck and a bunch of very clever computer scientists from Cambridge) and I have built a module to add a user login/database/etc... etc... to but london rc run their training through a yahoo group and all the rowers are members of that yahoo group (hence have a log in etc...). It would be good as far as I am concerned if I could use the membership of that group to confirm they are members of the site and for all their logging into the site etc... I have some ideas about how I could throw some flickr API love into the mix as well and make the site half built off Yahoo APIs and deliver a large chunk of the rest of what the members want.

on August 8, 2006 08:27 PM
# Thomas Hruska said:

A YahooGroups API should, first and foremost, make administrating a YahooGroup easier. I keep clammering for a client that connects into a very large C++ group I moderate and makes new member moderation really easy. I, and a zillion other YahooGroups owners, need the following features in a client-side application:

- Ability to read messages being moderated.
- Ability to edit messages before sending them onto the group.
- Ability to reject messages with an explanation of why it is being rejected. (Used to handle students requesting answers to homework problems without putting forth any effort).
- Ability to quickly switch any user from moderated to unmoderated. I do this when enough messages have come in that convince me the person isn't a spammer.
- Ability to click a button that bans an obvious spammer and deletes any messages in the moderation queue by that person.
- Ability to see, at a glance, all the newest items: Links, photos, files, etc. That is, non-message items sorted by date of addition. Again, a banning option for, in particular, Link and File spammers.
- And all of this needs to be able to be executed very quickly. Administering a group from the website is painfully slow. "job spammers" (particularly Indian companies) have forced me and countless other list owners to switch our mailing lists from unmoderated to new member moderation. The website is incredibly slow for moderating messages and I tend to use the e-mail reply method and then save up a bunch of addresses to ban later (about 10-30 messages have to be moderated every day). I'm a programmer, so I can create an application that does everything I describe assuming there are APIs to support the tasks. You don't know how badly I want a set of powerful tools at my disposal to better manage my groups. I've actually thought about writing an application that parses the webpages, extracts information, and automates the website. But that's too much work and really won't perform much better than accessing the website normally and has a really good chance of breaking should you change how things are done. An API is an excellent idea and solution.

In case you are wondering, c-prog is the primary group in question. And I'm not alone. A number of people who own their own groups agree with me that better administration tools via a client-side application is at the top of their list of things they want.

Three other things I want to see but are significantly less urgent:

1) Complete messages in the RSS feeds. There is a really cool feature of RSS called 'envelope' data. The 'envelope' feature of RSS allows you to encapsulate large amounts of data without downloading everything to the RSS client on every request. The RSS feed reader downloads envelope data either 'on demand' because the user wants to view it right then or at some other predetermined time (or never - if the user isn't interested in the thread). I'd also like to see a "reply to this" embedded link so users can quickly reply to a message from within their RSS feed reader.

2) Better archive searching. Yahoo has this nifty technology called a search engine. I'm consistently baffled why YahooGroups doesn't use the Yahoo search engine technology. The current archive search mechanism is painfully slow, has pages upon pages of zero results, usually displays useless information (only sorted chronologically), and did I mention it is slow? I can only imagine the server load involved with 15 people searching the archives at the same time. This takes away precious CPU time that could be used for other things. Like group administration.

3) Lift or significantly raise the daily ban limit. For a large group like c-prog, reaching 8,000 C/C++ programmers is a tempting target to just about every head-hunter organization on the planet - c-prog is even high-profile enough to attract the likes of both Yahoo and Pixar's HR departments. At any given time there are a number of very persistent spammers creating new Yahoo IDs because they know about the ban limit list owners have to deal with. For smaller groups, 50 bans per day is fine. For my group, I need a limit of about 150-200 when I go on my monthly/bi-monthly banning spree. Of course, with an administration YahooGroups API, 50 might be an 'ok' limit. But when the spammers figure out that 50 is a hardcoded limit, they are going to mass create Yahoo IDs and myself and my fellow admins are going to be overwhelmed practically overnight. Having a ban limit has always been a bad idea. At least give owners the choice of having a ban limit or not and whether it applies to just moderators or also the owner. That way you account for the disgruntled (or drunk) moderator who starts banning people for no reason but the owner can have free reign on banning spammers.

But these three things are not nearly as important as a group administration API. Owners of large groups are desperate for a solution because we are the direct target of spammers (targetted spam and otherwise) and the website is too slow to perform administration tasks.

on August 21, 2006 02:56 AM
# said:

I have to figure out what API I can use for messengers such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo to tap into their address book.....for example, I am creating an application and I don't want my users to go back and forth from one instant messenger address book to I wanted to create a function that imports their address book into my applications address book. Is there anyway to implement this functionality ? please email me at or if you can even guide me in the right direction

on September 13, 2006 12:40 PM
# said:

My organization would pay *good money* for the ability to use Yahoo Groups as a back-end for a company-branded front-end mailing list interface.

In my organization, people constantly carp that we won't let them use Yahoo Groups or Google Groups for mailing lists (no matter how small) because we think it is very unprofessional to communicate with our customers through a free, ad-supported and Yahoo-branded mailing list interface. This prohibition is in spite of the fact that we do believe Yahoo Groups has the most robust mailing list back-end and interface around! It's all just a problem of brand image.

I've looked many times unsuccessfully to see if Yahoo Groups will let us *pay* in order to use an advertisement-free version that we can re-brand with our organization's image.

So, if the API would allow companies to build company-branded interfaces on top of the Yahoo Groups engine, that would be awesome.

on April 25, 2007 10:50 PM
# Sarwar Efan said:

I would like to suggest a message preprosessor.
All messages will be processed automatically. Using this, some words can be filtered, spelling can be checked, post can be translated into another message, signature can be added matching sender in group database etc etc etc

on May 16, 2007 04:16 PM
# Mayank said:

After all this discussion, do we have a yahoo! groups API or do we know/see it coming?

on May 18, 2007 12:15 PM
# David I said:

I would love to have API access to the files section and be able to synchronize files between my filesystem and the Yahoo Group files area.

on September 5, 2007 06:44 PM
# Mark Law said:

Hi, it would be great if once the Yahoo!Groups Api is released it would be possible to make a component for Joomla to interface with the Api.

Then a little know Group could go mainstream and at the same time still be used inside the Yahoo!Groups.

Lets us know if and when it is coming thanks


on September 16, 2007 09:39 PM
# Angsuman Chakraborty said:

I came across this page while I was looking for Yahoo Groups API to server a real need.

Here is what I want from Yahoo groups API:
1. Ability to send invitations to join a group. This should follow the same terms as the regular invitation capability.
2. Ability to moderate programmatically, a message filter before approval
3. Ability to add plugins to moderate flooding etc.


on September 21, 2007 12:58 AM
# said:

Methods to easily upload photos preferably with some kind of algorithm to test for duplicates (like a file comparer).

on October 9, 2007 06:15 PM
# Turbo13 said:

Besides all the email stuff already mentioned.

Need to be able to add/edit/delete/retrieve by date range Calendar entries.
That way we can use it as a company calendar, and upload/change events from out database...

In general the Calendar that is shared is extremely nice feature when paired with a real database of events/orders/shipment dates etc.

on October 10, 2007 08:21 AM
# John Francis Lee said:

Batch load Files, Links, Photos.

It is very tedious to do so as currently implemented. There ought to be one set of functions to accomplish all these similar tasks.

Templating groups would be super. And a group hierarchy with Copy-on-write file/link/photo semantics would be sweet.

I just made a group for each of the 50 states for Mike Gravel's campaign and that is my point of reference. I'm embarassed to have spent so much time sitting in front of my computer mindlessly clicking my mouse. And to have loaded identical copies of so many files, links and photos.

Computers and networks are supposed to increase creativity and productivity and to reduce redundancy, not the other way round.

Be that as it may THANK YOU for Yahoo! Groups.

I'm a volunteer with no money and I would be nowhere without Yahoo! Groups.

A people's candidate like Mike, aggressively ignored by the Top Down Media Channels, needs the Bottom Up Media Channels.

I think Yahoo! will be the life's blood of Mike's campaign organization and if we elect him you will have been the salvation of the USA if not the entire world as well.

on October 16, 2007 10:33 PM
# John Francis Lee said:

So this is just a dead end and there are no plans for an api or any improvements to the Yahoo! groups? Or not until Google has eaten your lunch... again?

I realize that Google has all the money and most of the brains but their business model is flawed : its built upon betraying their customers personal information.

Work on the other pole there and you'll have a means of surviving and flourishing.

Offer a free certificate service. Build a keyring to store all of our public keys. Let us encrypt what we will. Save our encrypted data. Deliver our encrypted email. Verify our digital signatures.

Do a little research in the tor area yourselves and offer anonymous surfing.

Remind people in your advertisements that "the other" major services provider is selling their information to the highest bidder. Point out that you couldn't if you wanted to.

on October 24, 2007 03:49 AM
# Jens said:


To use the member-database from my YahooGroups (for Joomla, Gallery, ...) I would like to see the following possibilities:

- check if user/password is a correct yahoo-user
- check if a user is member of a special group

Kind regards, Jens

on November 19, 2007 08:34 AM
# Henrique Faria said:

I'd love to have a Yahoo! Groups API to play with!
Things I would expect from an API:

- Get messages by topic
- Get messages by number
- Get messages by user
- Get messages by date
- Simple/Advanced content search
- Send messages to group
- Reply individual messages
- Upload files

I would like to read the list as an RSS feed as well (I'm not sure if it's possible already).
What's the status of this API project? Has it evolved to some programming effort? I see this topic has been discussed since 2006.



on July 30, 2008 06:21 AM
# Jeremy Sutka said:

Hi Jeremy,

My family is part of a non-profit homeschool community (approx. 120 families) that use Yahoo Groups for their communication, calendar, member database, etc... One of the main issues they have with the current Yahoo Groups, it currently one of the members must go in to the calendar and manually generate an email of all of the weeks upcoming events. They want to automate this. I would think the ability to query the calendar to get a date range of events would be a great feature in the API.

I am a web developer and they are considering creating a whole new application or subscribing to an existing service (which would be considerably more expensive). I am trying to convince them otherwise, as it seems quite silly to redevelop a system that has just a few minor tweaks needed to fit their needs. Has there been any progress on an API?

Jeremy Sutka

on October 12, 2008 11:52 AM
# David said:

Did anything ever happen with this?

Our group would like an API less for user or message editing, and more for database API access. We create fresh databases each week for people to sign up for our activities. Over the course of the week, people add and subtract their names from the activities database lists, and also add comments. At the end of the week, the moderators look through the databases and assign people to teams based on what they signed up for.

We have to start with a "blank database" every week, as there isn't even a saved database template function! Would like people to be able to send emails to a particular address and have that automatically sign them up (or remove them from) a database. As of now, everyone has to manually add, delete, or edit records from the database, and the group has varying degrees of computer ability.


on June 7, 2009 07:36 AM
# James said:

We would like to set up single sign-on into Yahoo groups for our logged-in members. I guess this means passing session ID info to YG to authenticate. Perhaps someone knows if that's possible already?



on August 14, 2009 03:25 AM
# Loukote said:

An ICS calendar feed... That's why I did not launch my group in YahooGroups.

on April 14, 2010 11:47 AM
# Alvin said:

It would be very useful to have the "links" and "files" section of yahoo groups allow sorting by date. This would allow groups members to see new links or files at a glance and is especially important for groups with large membership and numerous "links" or "files". Currently it takes much time to find new links or files, unlike new photos or messages which can be viewed by date.


on August 8, 2010 04:43 PM
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