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February 16, 2007

Does Yahoo Really Care About Your Suggestions?

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While you were busy sucking on candy conversation hearts on Wednesday (or was that just Susan?), Yahoo! told us It Takes Two to Tango and released the Yahoo Suggestion Board to give users a forum to offer improvement ideas, comments and vote on all the feedback left by other users on the various Yahoo channels like Food, Travel, Answers, YDN, etc.

And though the Diggers got themselves all riled up once they heard the Yahoo Suggestion Board included a voting system (because, as we all know, Digg invented voting) this seemed like a genuinely great idea by Yahoo. Give users a place to vote up the product suggestions that are important to them, let the people in charge of implementing these decisions see them, and let’s make Yahoo great for everyone. Huzzah! It was a smart way for Yahoo to gauge the popularity of user suggestions and let users know they really do value consumer input. We liked this a lot.

Until we came across David Dalka’s post yesterday.

David writes:

"I made a post on Yahoo! Suggestions – "Yahoo! E-mail – please improve the spam filters – too much spam gets through" in the hopes that it would get voted on by other people caring about the issue and that Yahoo! would respond by putting resources on correcting the issue. At mid-afternoon, the entry had 9 votes. Then I got the message below stating it was deleted."

Why was the David’s very legitimate suggestion deleted, you ask? Yahoo said it was "not actionable". Hear that? Improving Yahoo’s spam filters is not something Yahoo is able to act on. Perhaps that’s the problem with Yahoo! Mail in the first place.

Reading David’s post was disheartening. Either you’re serious about customer feedback or you’re not. You can’t screen which suggestions you feel are merited and which aren’t. I can see if David’s suggestion was off-the-wall crazy ("Dear Yahoo, please deliver me lunch every day at 12:45p.m. I like pizza, thanks!"), but this seems very legitimate. Plus, it sounds like it was an actual person deleted his suggestion, it’s not as if this was some automated mistake. David posted his suggestion, people voted it up, and then Yahoo killed it.

Only you can’t do that. You can’t open up a forum or a blog and then attempt to control the flow of information. It would be like us enabling blog comments only to set a velvet rope around it and handpicking who gets to play. Bad, Yahoo.

And David’s suggestion had nine votes. That’s a pretty substantial number right now. Most of the suggestions up there are hovering between 5-7 votes depending on what category you’re in. It’s obvious that users are concerned about email spam – though we didn’t need a suggestion board to tell us that – and yet Yahoo still ignored the suggestion.
Why?

Are they unable to offer any insight into Yahoo Email? Were they afraid the suggestion would turn into a breeding ground for angry comments? Did they not want others commenting on it? Is it because they’re already aware of the problem and are working really hard to fix it? Was it just an error?

I don’t know the reason behind Yahoo’s decision, but I’d like to know (any takers out there?). I’d like to know what "not actionable" means and if the Yahoo Suggestion board will be a place for users to offer any suggestion for any product or if Yahoo will try and control the conversation. Stuff like this leaves a really bad taste in user’s mouth, so I think it’s important that Yahoo speak up. I wonder if Yahoo Answers has experienced any of the same problems?

[We really don’t know Yahoo’s side of this past the pro forma letter. Does not actionable mean too imprecise? Is “improve spam filters” like saying “cure cancer” an undertaking too large to tackle without some kind of focus? I, for one, want to hear from a Yahoo about this. –Susan] - I’m not quite sure I agree that "improve spam filters" is comparable to "cure cancer", but yes, a response from Yahoo regarding the meaning of not actionable would be very nice.

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One response to “Does Yahoo Really Care About Your Suggestions?”

  1. JGUNDEL writes:

    Yahoo! is only accepting suggestions for certain services so far. I don’t see one for Yahoo! email (I was about to send you post on to them for their response.) So, I think it may have been “non actionable” because he posted it to the wrong service since Y!email is not accepting suggestions yet.



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