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OPLIN 4cast #405: Goodbye, Yahoo Directory

Posted in 4cast

Yahoo logoLast Friday, in a progress report on “Product Focus,” Yahoo included three sentences announcing that “our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory.” While this is not surprising news — some of you youngsters may not even know what the Yahoo Directory is — it caught our attention because the original OPLIN website from mid-1996 to early 1999 was basically a collection of “link directories” (or “web directories”) similar to the Yahoo Directory. Before the founding of Google in 1998, link directories were the way people found things on the Internet. Librarians spent a lot of time building link directories and posting them on the Internet because that’s what librarians do; they help people find information. So in a way, the end of the Yahoo link directory is the end of one chapter in the history of the Internet that included a significant role for librarians.

  • Yahoo! is scuttling the only thing we knew them from (UPROXX | Bea Kaye)  “If you’re like me, then you had no idea that Yahoo! was actually an acronym. In 1994, Stanford students Jerry Yang and David Filo created a comprehensive web directory. At first they named it ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’, but shortly changed it to ‘Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.’ (If you are under the age of 20: Search engines sucked in the ’90s. Web directories like Yahoo were where it was at.)”
  • The Yahoo Directory — once the Internet’s most important search engine — is to close (Search Engine Land | Danny Sullivan)  “A ‘directory’ relies on humans to review websites, summarize them with short descriptions and organize them into a categories. When Yahoo started, this system was effective, because there weren’t that many pages on the web (relatively speaking) and automated search technology to organize websites wasn’t very good.”
  • End of an era: Yahoo Directory to shut down Dec. 31 (Best Techie | Shawn Farner)  “For a long time, the Directory was a big part of Yahoo’s business. That all changed when automated crawlers began indexing websites, and Yahoo partnered with several companies (including Google) to provide search results that weren’t compiled by humans. The Directory still existed, but it just wasn’t as important as it was in Yahoo’s heyday — the early-to-late ’90s.”
  • Yahoo will ring in the new year by killing its website directory (PCWorld | Zach Miners)  “Yahoo is also not the company it used to be. Since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO in 2012, she’s engineered a number of acquisitions and launched new products and apps, like digital video and online magazines, aimed at making Yahoo more relevant. But still, some things must go.”

Before the Ohio Web Library:

Below is a link directory of “Electronic Resources” from the original OPLIN website.
link directory