A Modest Proposal to Yahoo, from a Customer


Dear Yahoo:

When my first book was published, I took book marketing classes and discovered how important it was that I have an author website, along with a contact list of readers who have shown interest in my work. You were one of the new games in town, so I signed up and created a website and email address book through your server.

Eight years later, I feel like your bitch.

It’s not the fact that your IT people are bored out of their minds, and so randomly make unnecessary changes to email that are a hindrance rather than an improvement. It’s not the fact that your prices to host a website are higher than most. It’s not the fact that if I have a technical problem, I need to schedule three hours out of my day to wait for my chance to talk to someone who’s reading from a script. It’s not the fact that, with the schedule I have, it isn’t worth the sweat equity I’d have to put in and the learning curve I’d have to slog through to switch to something else. It’s not the fact that the cost of hiring someone to do it all for me would be marketing money better spent elsewhere. Nor is it even the hacks you’ve experienced several times now, which had me changing my password to one I can never remember and calling up my credit card companies.

No, it’s that when I open your home page, I feel as though I’m at a business event I don’t want to attend, but must for the sake of my career; an event where at any given moment, I can expect a loud and obnoxious drunk to vomit on my shoes.

I think I can speak for many of us who’ve been roped into signing onto your home page that we don’t want to be hit, day in and day out, with your revolting “news” stories about a handful of sociopaths your writers have to crawl through sewage to unearth. We don’t care to read about the monster who chopped his teenage daughter into little pieces and stored her in cat litter, or the wacko who framed her ex-boyfriend for a rape and murder.

These people are not at all average, but you report on them relentlessly, as though we should expect to find them on every street corner in the USA.
Please don’t bother to spew out the shop-worn argument that you’re “writing the stories people want to hear,” because that’s even more crap. The stories that get circulated most on social media platforms, stories that are not major news stories that is, feature babies mimicking adults talking on cellphones, kittens getting into mischief, grandparents dancing at weddings, and inspirational quotes. I’ve been on Facebook for years, have thousands of contacts, and not once has anyone shared one of your vile reports. Knowing about these maniacs is not going to make us any smarter, safer, or more vigilant. Nor are they inspiring. Your clientele is not the writing pool for “Criminal Minds” or “The X-Files.” Your clientele is the average person, probably over age forty, who’s already been mind-raped by the endless reports of shootings and terrorism, the cesspool that is politics, and the slow but sure destruction of our planet that will eventually kill us all. Apart from voting or signing some petitions, there’s not much we can do about any of these things, so we try to get on with our lives as best we can, be the best version of ourselves we can be, grab what joy we can, and do our best at our jobs every day. How nice it would be to be encouraged to do all that, by inspiring stories we come across when we sign onto our email server to check our mail, rather than being punched in the face by the sensationalist stories you choose to publish.

I doubt you’ll take any notice of this letter, other than to perhaps screw with my account with 404 errors or “server down” notices. Maybe that would be the impetus I need to get away from you. But if you’re wondering why your stock is falling, it’s not because your inbox interface doesn’t look like Google’s. So you don’t need to redesign it, and then change it back when your twelve customers complain that they don’t know what in hell to do now, because they can’t find anything. It’s not even your pricing. The reason you’re not getting new customers, and young people are not on Yahoo, is not because you’re not the newest toy in the toy box, but because your homepage is repugnant, boring, and stupid.

It would be much appreciated if you could think about all this.

Sincerely yours,
Patricia V. Davis.

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