Yahoo Groups, original social network for many, to begin winding up from Monday

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on October 20, 2019

‘Delhibird’, a Yahoo Groups fraternity of over 10,000 birding enthusiasts who post details of bird walks, sightings and trip reports, is desperately trying to migrate its content to Google Groups


A birding network in Delhi is all aflutter at the impending demise of the online discussion board

Facebook is often credited with being the big creator of communities, and the reuniter of classmates. But long before the social network was formed, it was Yahoo Groups that brought people with the same hobbies, interests and connections together, enabling them to swap stories and pictures.

On Monday, a piece of internet history will begin to be erased as users of Yahoo Groups will no longer be able to upload content to the site. On its support page Yahoo!, now owned by Verizon, has posted: “Beginning October 21, you won’t be able to upload any more content ot the site, and as of December 14, all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed. You will have until that date to save anything you have uploaded.”

All files, photos, emails, attachments, message updates on Yahoo Groups will vanish from the internet around mid-December.

The news has created consternation among those who still use the egroups – yes, believe it or not, there are quite a few who do so.

Take ‘Delhibird’, a Yahoo Groups fraternity of over 10,000 birding enthusiasts who post details of bird walks, sightings and trip reports on the platform. Moderator Nikhil Devasar is gobsmacked. All aflutter, he says he is frantically searching the net to see how he can migrate the content to Google Groups. He emphasises that the content on the platform — especially the bird sighting reports — is incredibly valuable for researchers, authors and ornithologists, who often cite it in their papers and books.

It was in 2000 that Devasar had started the Delhibird egroup. A few years down the line, he created Delhibirdpix on Google Groups — the idea was that photos would be posted on Google groups while Yahoo Groups would be kept for text.

Why didn’t they migrate to any other platform? “We never felt the need – it worked so wonderfully and has such good functionalities,” says Devasar. “I can just type Great Indian Bustard on Yahoo Groups and get all the messages ever posted related to the bird,” he says, illustrating his point. Also, given that it is an email network, there is none of the noise and clutter that is predominant in social media networks.

The HR connect

The news of the closure of Yahoo Groups has also set off nostalgic recollections among many. Independent HR consultant and tech enthusiast Gautam Ghosh recalls how in the late 1990s, when he was part of the knowledge management group at Satyam Computers (now Tech Mahindra), they were looking for a platform to share knowledge. They set up the knowledge management society of India on, an email listing service.

Eventually egroups got acquired in 2000 by Yahoo! – perhaps its best ever buy. Yahoo! had paid $432 million for egroups, which had 18 million users at that time.

Ghosh says the HR community was a heavy user of Yahoo Groups in the early 2000s. He himself was on 17 HR-related Yahoo Groups. The XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus says he was asked by his professor Madhukar Shukla to create Yahoo Groups for old students. “We created batch-wise Yahoo Groups for XLRI alumni and also created city chapters,” he says.

He recalls how XLRI also had a jobs egroup going. “It has 4,000 or 5,000 people — many of whom would post jobs and many who got hunted. How many head hunters bills we saved those days through Yahoo Groups,” he exclaims.

In addition, Ghosh started off a whole host of Yahoo Groups. “I had subscribed to an HR-related global egroup on training and development called TRDEV. I thought why not create something similar for India,” he recalls.

Thus began the Yahoogroup IHRC – Indian Human Resource Connection and a couple of others called the World of HR and HR Gyan.

Eventually, most of these groups migrated to before transitioning to LinkedIn and Facebook. Currently, Ghosh feels Facebook leverages the power of groups best.

Naveen Chandra, Former head of international business for Times Network, recalls how in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Yahoo! symbolised cool. “It had a cool name, heritage and story. In many ways Yahoo Groups was the earliest form of social media as it helped us link up with school friends,” he says. “It was not real time communication as most of us were on desktops then,” he says, “but for that time it was a great thing.”

Very few may miss it, but many will remember it fondly!

Published on October 20, 2019

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