Yahoo Groups, like much of Yahoo, are a relic of a previous internet age. Although they aren’t widely used now, groups once served as a watering hole for discussion on wonderfully niche interests, such as TV show fan communities and extremely geeky computing topics — almost like Reddit does now. Looking through the directory today, you can still find groups with thousands of members, and some groups have been active as recently as this year.
Sadly, it seems that almost all of that internet history is going to be erased. In a support document, Yahoo says that, effective December 14th, it will be deleting all content that has been posted to Yahoo Groups. And it’s going to largely shut down the service even sooner, as you won’t be able to upload new content to your groups starting this Monday, October 21st.
Once the old content is deleted, all you’ll be able to do on Yahoo Groups is browse the groups directory, request to be invited to one, and, if you’re in a group, email that group.
Here’s Yahoo’s list of what it will remove:
Groups will also become much harder to join. As part of the changes, Yahoo says that any currently public group will become restricted or private. You can still find them, but you may only be able to join by invitation.
It seems like the beginning of the end for Yahoo Groups
If you want to save content from a group before it is removed, Yahoo says you can download your files directly from your group’s page, or by going to Verizon Media’s Privacy Dashboard page, signing into your Yahoo account, and requesting your group’s data. (Yahoo says it will email you once your data is ready for download.) And some of the content may get preserved by the Internet Archive, according to archivist Jason Scott:
Of COURSE Archive Team is going to go after it. We will take a huge-ass snapshot, and people will lose ALL the functionality of access, search, reference. That’s the price that’s paid – we turn things into snapshots instead of reference books and living things.— Jason Scott (@textfiles) October 16, 2019
To my surprise, I realized while researching this story that this news might personally affect me. For years, I’ve gotten score updates for a competitive summer marching band circuit (shoutout to my band nerds) — and I remembered that the updates come from a Yahoo group I joined ages ago. Since group emails will still work, I’ll be able to keep getting those scores every summer, for now.
But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yahoo shut down groups completely sometime in the future — either way, it feels like an important part of internet history is about to disappear.