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Bloody Yahoo

December 16, 2010

It’s a warning from history this news – or is it just speculation at the moment? – that Delicious is being shutdown or decommissioned or whatever the term is now amongst the great and the good on the interweb. It’s a warning about the fallout any global brand could find itself overwhelmed by if it makes a wrong move and pisses off it’s users.

I’m not a heavy user of the bookmarking service. But I do use it. I use it because I figure I know that at some point I wouldn’t mind going back over the things which have interested me and cobbling something together. It’s my aide memoire. It’s my notebook.

But of course, I never paid for it. None of us did. It was free to us. We all revelled in it. We used it fully. We loved it. But have we taken advantage of it? Or worse, have we taken it for granted?

It’s not the first service Yahoo has shut down. The last I immersed myself in – Yahoo 360 – (a sort of Facebook predecessor centred on a blog function) also seemed to provoke a strong reaction when the company announced it was going to kill it off. It was one of two reasons I moved on to WordPress.

But, just like Yahoo 360’s demise, Delicious’ possible closing is an illustration of something we’re all potentially going to have get to used to in the future.

Cars break down. Pets have to go see the vet. Sometimes the cars need repairing. Sometimes they worth nothing more than reducing to scrap metal. Pets? Well, you finish the analogy off yourself.

If we get something for free, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised if the service gets withdrawn when things get a bit tough for the company who acquired the service in the past. After all globals are just as susceptible to dodgy thinking as small-scale businesses. Someone who’s not really in touch probably looks on Delicious and thinks “what possible use is that? We could get away with killing that. Go on let’s kill it. It’s free. It’s not making us any money.”

And because we’ve got quite it and quite a lot of other things for free maybe we might as well use this as a trial run for the horrors ahead. Maybe that means I’m going to have to finally set up my own blogging system on my own server (something I was intending to do anyway next year) to insure against WordPress killing their free service. Maybe it means – horror of horrors – that I need to embrace the possibility that Flickr may at some point in the future shut down despite the fact I pay for that.

The point is, we may shout and scream about poor service or low levels of respect, but this was bound to happen somewhere at some point. Can you imagine what will happen when Facebook faces ruin? God help us.

No, we might as well get used to this. That’s the sensible thing to do.

Actually, no. I suggest we protest. In the strongest terms. Don’t axe Delicious. It’s an innocent thing. A good thing. A brilliant thing. Don’t be dweebs. Don’t be arses. Don’t be stupid management types totally divorced from your userbase. If you want us to browse to your homepage then reinvent yourself. Present us with a reason to come to your site. Do something different. Don’t axe something which works and gives pleasure because you can’t think of a better way to reposition yourself in the market.

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