Yahoo Mimics Facebook With Groups Update; Users Retaliate

A few weeks ago, Yahoo updated Groups, the company’s online discussion board and forum offering, with a UI makeover, chat funcionality, easier photo sharing and more. The result ended with a more sleek, Facebook-like interface for each Group that resembles a Facebook news feed. Apparently, Yahoo’s millions of Groups users (which is surprising, by the way), aren’t happy with the changes.

New features include a stream-like view of messages and updates in a group, and a “Post Something” box, which resembles the Facebook status update box. According to the 400-plus comments on this Yahoo forum, users hate the new interface for a number of reasons, but the most apparent complaint was that the interface resembled a social network. Here a few choice comments from the forum:

Hate this already, I checked out the new format and its horrible. I don’t want facebook, I don’t want all this stuff, it isn’t why I love Yahoo! Groups or what I want from the groups. If there isn’t a classic group option I will without a doubt leave. I need a group description section for one thing. The new format is horrible, please let us keep the original format if we choose too. I don’t want to go through this change at all, it isn’t that I am not for updating, but you’re giving up everything that makes Yahoo! Groups a great place to meet online and making it into every other piece of crap already available to me elsewhere on the internet.

Unfortunately, Yahoo in their drive to become a “social network” and integrate with Facebook, have failed to understand why people use Yahoo groups and the function Yahoo groups play. If they insist on going ahead with this integration, they will destroy one of Yahoo’s best assets. If they are smart they will sit up and listen, and leverage this difference with Facebook. Yahoo needs to ask itself – Why did Yahoo group moderators/members not set-up/migrate to Facebook but instead stayed on Yahoo?

I run a swap group for miniaturists. That is what we use the group for; not for general social networking. And in particular, we use the database tables for organising our swaps. It seems that these are likely to go. Without these, I cannot run our group. We don’t need a social networking site; we want one with the tools that we need to organise our group’s specific interests. And we have that in the group as it is. Please don’t make these huge changes.

Yahoo has been making a considerable effort to make its products more social, outsourcing this to Facebook at times. But clearly not all users are ready for this transition to social-at what point does Yahoo have to forgo its strategy for certain products to please users?