Why Yahoo! mail sucks

One of my pet peeves is why companies who have been around a long time are still unable to get the basics right. A great example is Yahoo! mail that,  even after 11 years of being in existence, can’t distinguish between legitimate emails and spam. It’s annoying enough when tons of junk mail gets routed to your inbox but the last straw is when legitimate emails get sent to your spam folder.

This interview with Mark Risher, anti-abuse product manager for Yahoo Mail in Network World on introduction of DomainKeys Internet Mail, as the standard for authentication, back in February makes it sound like the greatest invention since sliced bread. I found that there’s more truth in the comments than in the interview itself. 

This technology is something we felt would be very helpful for receivers so we can confer special privileges to a message. For this other message that lacks a signature, we can penalize it. We can treat it with more suspicion and run it through additional filters.

Yes, authentication of emails sound great in theory, the assumption being that Yahoo! system can identify the authentified piece of mail. But when their own mail system can’t distinguish between authentified mail and spam, what’s the point?

The incident that inspired my post today was an email I received from another Yahoo! mail user, a friend of mine who was responding to my previous email, and guess what?! His email was DomainKeys authentified and yet, it ended up in the spam folder. If I hadn’t checked my spam folder I would have missed the email with his flight details and would have left him stranded at the airport.

That’s why theory doesn’t always add up to reality and that’s where Gmail atleast has its basics right. Gmail system is smart enough to identify and compile emails in the same thread so subsequent emails in the same thread don’t get blocked. I mean, the fact that I’ve responded to a given email address multiple times should render it kosher.

That being said, how much can one expect from a free mail service but wait a minute…Gmail’s free and it’s not even out of Beta yet (which is curious, why is it still in Beta?). From what I’ve heard, the paid business mail hosted by Yahoo! has even worse spam filters, resulting in more spam than the free account, so much for paying for better service.

And as if it couldn’t get any worse, for the last few months, it’s been nearly impossible to log in to the mail account. You keep trying and trying, and you can see your emails in the tiny box on My Yahoo page but you can’t get to them. Yahoo! mail is supposed to be the third-most popular site according to Hitwise, a number which is no doubt helped by frustrated users who have to keep visiting the site multiple times because it’s so friggin darn impossible to get in.


20 responses to “Why Yahoo! mail sucks

  1. I scarcely use my Yahoo account so I haven’t noticed many issues, but let me tell you that AOL is much much worse. I signed on 13 years ago because I got internet for $3 a month through my employer and now it’s the address I use the most.

    It is bad in many ways such as…
    – can’t search all mail folders at once
    – spam folder isn’t empty but it shows empty on the main folder directory
    – sometimes messages don’t open at all
    – autofill for email addresses often doesn’t work

    That’s just the beginning, but it’s hard transferring all my commercial and friend contacts to a new email address so I suffer.


  2. Hi Atul,
    Thanks for your feedback! I’ve never used AOL but have heard similar horror stories. The main reason why mediocre services/products survive and even thrive is the high switching cost. Like you said, it is a pain to transfer contacts over and that’s why as frustrated as I may be with Yahoo, I still haven’t closed out my mail account.

  3. Yes… I have my problems with Yahoo! as well. They have promulgated DomainKeys and given spammers a free reign. I don’t use Yahoo! mail, but I administer my own email servers and we have implemented both SPF and DomainKeys. The problem I have with DomainKeys is that it cannot be relied on reduce spam because MUCH of the spam I receive through our mail servers originates from Yahoo! servers… with authentic DomainKeys!

    If Yahoo! can’t police its own servers and prevent spammers from using them to send mass quantities of spam – it should not be promoting DomainKeys. They are in fact endorsing spammers by allowing them to send spam from their servers with valid DomainKeys.

  4. Hi rbt,
    Great point! I couldn’t agree more. It is ludicrous that this highly flawed standard is being promoted to and adopted by large companies.

  5. It’s not only the yahoo email, it every thing about it that sucks. Even if some one will report you to yahoo as abuse and your acct is suspended you can’t even get into your flickr acct that means the money you have paid for the flicker acct is none refundable. Sp Id say stay away from what ever corp that have merged with yahoo.

  6. Gmail’s still in beta, and always will be, because Google says that web services like that typically cannot be complete, as user feedback always counts. And Yahoo mail sucks. Period.

  7. Pingback: DomainKeys - spammer’s new BFF? « Marketing Mystic

  8. Isn’t it odd that yahoo email has so many complaints about locking up your computer, delivering late email, and generally just not working? When you go to yahoo answers they say it’s your internet provider or your browser, yet these same browsers and IP providers work fine w/ gmail. I gave up on my yahoo email and went to google gmail. Guess what? NO problems. Ever. So dump yahoo and go to practically any other email provider and say goodbye to all your email problems.

    • I totally agree with you. It’s sheer laziness+habit that’s keeping me holding on to my Yahoo mail account but I also support Yahoo because I can’t stand the thought of Gmail being the email monopoly.

  9. Uhh. Google reads your emails to power it’s ad targeting and other related services. Other providers do not. Do you want to guess why they’re so much better at spam? Something to think about before gushing about Gmail.

    • Good point. I agree it’s creepy that our emails are scanned but there’s a reason Gmail is free. Also, there aren’t a whole lot of choices out there, when it comes to web-based email.

  10. sorry, meant to say “spam control”

  11. Yahoo blocks emails from small publishers all the time claiming them to be spam. Their response?

    Try using DomainKeys (a Yahoo developed standard) or try using CertifiedEmail.

    How much does CertifiedEmail cost?
    CertifiedEmail costs $2.50 CPM on average (cost per thousand messages sent) in addition to the $399 accreditation fee.

    I wonder what Yahoo’s cut of that is…

    Yahoo has cost me countless hours wasted trying to resolve mail issues now they want me to PAY to deliver mail that the customers requested? How’s that for poor customer service? They also have blocked emails I have sent to fellow board members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Community Counseling Centers of Chicago. Talk about a PR gaffe.

    I have filled out their form 7 (yes, SEVEN) times and received the exact same form response every single time. Thanks Yahoo. Prepare for even further bad press as I block Yahoo email addresses wherever possible.

    I have never had such issues with other email providers.

    Ditch Yahoo mail!

  12. best way is when someone emails you, copy and paste their email address on your google account and respond from there. or you can attached your new email address directly above your signature, at least they know. that way, less people will use yahoo. they think millions are still using them so boycott yahoo. even their messenger stinks.

  13. Yes, yahoo mail sucks! We have many servers from which mails are getting delayed for hours for no reason. The mails which are are in que for delivery are all genuine mails, not spam, even after all these years, yahoo mail can’t distinguish good mail and bad mail. It seems g-mail is best, keep away from yahoo mail…… otherwise you will not receive mails from lot of domais for no reason….

  14. yahoo mail sucks. ughhh

  15. Yahoo mail is nightmare, sometimes it takes so much time to load that you can have a bath or dinner while it is loading.

  16. I’m registered at Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, and AOL. I must say that Yahoo! Mail and AOL Mail are the two worst email sites I’ve ever been on. I rarely use my AOL Mail and I never go on the site (I use IMAP access). Since Yahoo! Mail has no POP or IMAP, I’ve never used it once since signing up.

    I’m sticking with Hotmail. I prefer it easily over any other mail client, and even Hotmail is leaps and bounds ahead of Yahoo.

  17. I have hundreds of contacts in my Yahoo Mail contacts. These contacts are in groups i.e. family, military, government , business etc that I regularly send mail to (not spam) All of the sudden all the groups are gone. Now I am going to have to go through the almost 500 contacts and reclassify them according to groups…(NOT IN YAHOO THOUGH—THE BASTARDS) Yahoo’s answer…it is a know issue that we are working on…
    I have been with Yahoo for many years including my website…NO MORE…
    Can you tell that I am pissed at Yahoo…an understatement

  18. I’ve used Yahoo mail for over a decade and generally it works well, with a powerful seach facility.

    However when they’re down they just completely ignore you, leaving you scrambling around the net wondering what’s going on.

    What really cheeses me off about them though is the ‘news’ section, which is seriously broken.

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