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Yahoo Groups Set a Standard for User Frustration
by Eric Armstrong
January 26, 2009
After being let go from Sun, I find that I can no longer get group messages, I can't connect to change my profile, and I can't contact them for help. In a word, I'm hosed. This post was the only remaining way to (hopefully) reach them.


I was just let go from Sun Microsystems, where I was getting Yahoo group emails, (

I tried to log in today to change it, but my password was not recognized. Do not know why.

I went through the password-reset process, which asked me for my alternate email address (cool!), but no password ever arrived at that address (not cool).

I suspect that a bug in the implementation has the password going to my former work address, which I can no longer access.

I made something like 14 attempts to send a request for help, before I gave up.

Half were rejected due to unreadable capcha codes. Example: one with a "4" where the point on the side overlaps something that could be an o, c, or G. No way to tell. Just had to guess. Then on the next page, the place where a new code is supposed to display is blank. So you have to back up--at which point the browser asks if it's ok to resend the data. So you have to say yes. It becomes frustrating, after a while.

The other half were rejected with "all fields must be filled in". But all fields WERE filled in. I mean, ALL of them. Even the optional ones.

My suspicion is that it's not working because although the field says "email address you can contact me at", the instructions at the top say "the information you entered during your initial registration". So I'm thinking that a failure to match email addresses is causing the request for assistance to be rejected, and that the failure is being reported with the wrong error message.

I really wish I could get through, so I could participate in the satisfaction survey I opted into. I would love to blister someone's ear. But at this point, it seems that I am killed forever, wrt Yahoo Groups:

The only possible remaining action is to write this blog entry. (The original title was a bit shorter, and rhymed with "Yahoo Plucks".)

At this point, it appears that are in a contest to see who can introduce the most bugs into a single transaction. Congratulations. You are winning.


  • I finally get an email that tells me to click a link to reset my password.
  • I click it, and go to a page that says "We verified your identity. Enter your new password."
  • I do, and go to a new page that says, "Oops. Our system is having problems." There is a big button there that says "Try again".
  • I click it. Guess what? I'm now back at the ORIGINAL page, where I have to resubmit the request to change the password.
  • I did that yesterday, and again today. Same result, each time. Not much point in doing it again.
  • And oh, by the way, I took a look at the screen for creating a new identity. (Looks like I'm going to have to do that, and sign up for my previous groups all over again.)
  • Guess what (again)? There are identity-confirmation questions there. (Mother's maiden name, and so forth.) Only that personal information, once gathered, never seems to be used anywhere in the process. So what's the point of collecting it?

What a bundle of bugs and bad behavior! (And, to date, no one has contacted me. I would love to rescind this post with "Hey, they got in touch and did a great job". So far, no such luck.)

Success -- Sort Of

Finally got an email telling me my password had been changed. Yay! It seems to take 4 or 5 hours. (Maybe I have too many email redirects and spam filters in the way?)

But when I went to edit my profile, I still went to that fool "verify your password screen". Didn't work. So I logged out and logged back in. That worked. Click "Edit profile". Once again: "Verify your password". What the heck? I just logged in. Typed in the password again. Nope. That "profile" option in the drop down under your username is a red herring--a spiderweb, set to trap the unwary.

Well, at least I could visit the groups I belong to. I went to one, and noticed the edit membership option. I visited it, and saw that I had a choice of where to send the emails--the totally defunct address they were now going to, or the valid email address that remained.

Wonderful. Well, at least I had a way to fix things. So I went through my groups, one by one, and changed the email setting. That still leaves the invalid choice lingering around. It seems I'll never be able to get to the profile to remove it.

Man, I sure hope someone from Yahoo reads this, one day. There's enough bugs in the process to keep a coder busy for a year...


Got a message from the director of groups at Yahoo. That was nice. We're trying to find a time to chat. Haven't connected yet. I'll post an update when we do.

Not sure I'll be able to help much. I was able to work around the problem by changing the send-address for each of the 20 groups I belong to, but I was never able to get to my profile to delete the (now invalid) address.

More as it happenss...

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About the Blogger

Eric Armstrong has been programming and writing professionally since before there were personal computers. His production experience includes artificial intelligence (AI) programs, system libraries, real-time programs, and business applications in a variety of languages. He works as a writer and software consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. He wrote The JBuilder2 Bible and authored the Java/XML programming tutorial available at Eric is also involved in efforts to design knowledge-based collaboration systems.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2009 Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.

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