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Yahoo Tries to Improve Your Inbox 84

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can't-get-much-worse dept.
Jamie found a story about Yahoo's plans to improve your inbox by incorporating more information into the sorting. Simple thread order or chronological order ignores tons of information that might be available on social networking websites. That way your friends will be more prominently displayed. Automating this could beat the hell out of a hundred lines of procmail recipes.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Yahoo Tries to Improve Your Inbox

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  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by angus_rg (1063280) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:23AM (#21984180)
    So they've put in a working spam filter?
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ngarrang (1023425) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:31AM (#21984318) Journal

      So they've put in a working spam filter?
      Whoa! Slow down there, partner! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. First we need to be able to see all of our inbox spam in an orderly fashion before we can begin ignoring it.
      • by angus_rg (1063280)
        How could I have missed something so obvious? Microsoft should hire you for their sales team. If they did, everyone running XP would be upgrading to Vista.
        • by Ngarrang (1023425)

          How could I have missed something so obvious? Microsoft should hire you for their sales team. If they did, everyone running XP would be upgrading to Vista.
          Just call me a disgruntled former user of Yahoo! Mail.
        • "... upgrading to Vista." Grammatical error: Should be "downgrading".
      • I'm guessing this is not connected with helping the user. Maybe they want to organize your email messages so that they can calculate the conversations more efficiently and serve ads that are more effective.

        Yahoo played so many tricks that I learned to stay away from it; I haven't seen Yahoo in years.

        Now I just visited the Yahoo web site [yahoo.com]. As I write this it says, "Pulse - What Yahoos Are Into". That's typical of Yahoo's respect for it's customers. A "yahoo" is "an uncultivated or boorish person" [reference.com].
      • by cawpin (875453)
        Funny, the spam filter on my Yahoo works great and has for a long while. I get maybe one out of a hundred that slips through.
        • by Ngarrang (1023425)

          Funny, the spam filter on my Yahoo works great and has for a long while. I get maybe one out of a hundred that slips through.

          Then you are blessed. But, my yahoo account was established over 10 years ago, so plenty of time has passed for spammers to find my account. The reason I stopped using my y! account was specifically to do with the spam not being caught, as in, a hundred a day...or more. And I dutifully submitted them to the spam filters. I am much happier with my gmail account.

          • Same for me. Yahoo is now my throwaway account for useless website registrations, and even then I'm so disgusted by the amount of spam when I log in that, out of pity, I try to mark a little of it before logging out. I don't know if they're cross-referencing spam reports from different users, though.

          • by cawpin (875453)
            My account was also created nearly 10 years ago. There was a period a few years ago when the filter didn't work worth a crap but it was quickly fixed and, as I said before, it works damned well now.
          • by I_M_Noman (653982)

            my yahoo account was established over 10 years ago, so plenty of time has passed for spammers to find my account.

            I've had a Yahoo! account since it was Rocketmail, and maybe I'm also "blessed" but the spam filter works really well for me. Maybe it's because I know enough to not give that address out to all and sundry.

            My only issue is that sometimes things are flagged as spam that really aren't. I've had to keep the Bulk folder active so that I can periodically scan through it to see if any real mail is

          • I have had my yahoo for over 10 years (nearly 15) and the spam filter is more overinclusive than anything else- I get about 1 spam a week that slips through- though i get about 5 or 6 non-spams that get get accidentally marked as spam and I do get on the average about 150-200 spam e-mails a day, so the ratio is pretty good
    • I logged into my yahoo inbox this morning, didn't notice anything new other than a message from yahoo that included a link to Gmail signup and instructions on setting up an account.

      Thanks for improving my inbox, yahoo!
    • by prennix (1069734)
      Yahoo does an amazing job of filtering. Some of the real v-iagra type spam ends up the spam folder, much of it is missed... Yet they just DROP legitimate mail that they've decided is spam. Yahoo is now on a par with Hotmail for reliability. Why do our customers never have a problem with Gmail? For some reason it continues to work just fine. Maybe they can take some lessons from Yahoo and start filtering out the legit stuff, too....
  • vs. procmail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Automating this could beat the hell out of a hundred lines of procmail recipes.
    Maybe. But I think procmail gives you MUCH more flexibility. Yahoo may work well with MySpace or Facebook, but what about iMeem, CarDomain or GuildCafe? You can get ANYTHING with procmail and a few scripts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wwmedia (950346)
      sure , go tell 200 million non-nurds to use procmail...
    • Re:vs. procmail? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by krog (25663) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:32AM (#21984350) Homepage
      Yes, and procmail still sucks.

      In the 21st Century, procmail syntax just doesn't cut it anymore. It's just like Sendmail... works great, but a complete bear to configure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlackCreek (1004083)

      I used to know procmail like the back of my hand.

      My procmailrc (which I stopped using FWIW) is almost 400 lines at its last incantation. Sure, after all those hours learning the syntax, and after adapting Timo's http://lipas.uwasa.fi/~ts/info/proctips.html [uwasa.fi] (great page BTW) procmail testing scripts to work on my computer I could indeed do pretty much anything with my email. Procmail is also pretty much bug free (I heard that *every* single C library call has its return values checked for all possible error

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu @ g m a i l .com> on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:26AM (#21984232) Journal

    Is this a solution looking for a problem? The first thing that comes to mind for me around these new features is, how do I explain this to my parents when now, after years of getting the hang of Outlook (and others), they're seeing e-mail messages arranged in some heuristic-based order they don't understand. (And, yeah, I know for now this is Yahoo only, but it always seems that all jump on the bandwagon and add their version of the latest gee-whiz new e-mail behavior.)

    Heck, I could see it as throwing me... all of a sudden something that should have been a very important note falls to the bottom of the queue because it wasn't a correspondent in my "linkedin" network.

    And, it's a whole new path for spammers to investigate and abuse.

    I've learned to manage my e-mails without these kinds of filters, even when dealing with more than 100 e-mails a day. And, when you're getting that many e-mails a day, organizing "friends" to the top isn't likely to be much help. You still have a ton of e-mail to sort out with your own personal heuristics.

    With inverted indices, IMO, there's enough power at your fingertips to manage your information your own way. Letting Yahoo sift through the chaff to extract phone numbers, restaurant recommendations, etc., starts to make me nervous... again, with spammers figuring ways to get into your lists.... no thanks.

    I know I don't have to use these kinds of new services. But I also know I'm going to get called upon, as always, to explain to family and friends, what's going on with their new mail interactions. At some point these automagic features transcend their explainability. Reminds me a little of Lotus NOTES... a cool and interesting solution religiously doted upon by its followers, but not really a solution to an existing problem but more a solution looking for a problem.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't understand. This has nothing to do with e-mail and everything to do with ego.

      People want this system because they want to believe that they're so important that they just can't handle the information over-load in their lives. All human societies everywhere have always included a significant component of conspicuous consumption, and right now "information" is the commodity that the little monkeys are most conspicuous in consuming.

      People aren't complaining about the amount of e-mail they get. The
    • I agree that it has some issues, but what if if it doesn't auto-sort? What if it just highlights, bolds, or otherwise brings attention to different emails in a way that makes it easier to visualize? I'm all for that.
    • I have Yahoo e-mail through one of my former ISPs, and I am still using the old HTML-based e-mail web interface that I started with a few years ago, despite their pleas for me to move to the "new & improved" java/ad interface.

      - RG>
    • by JavaRob (28971)

      I've learned to manage my e-mails without these kinds of filters,
      even when dealing with more than 100 e-mails a day. And, when you're
      getting that many e-mails a day, organizing "friends" to the top isn't
      likely to be much help.

      Absolutely agreed. I already know more or less what's going on with my friends (and they can call me if somehow I missed an important email).

      On the contrary, when a more-or-less stranger emails me because they might want to hire me for a project, or I get that rare email from a credit card company saying that my account has been locked for possible fraud, these may be all first-time, no-social-network emails, but they're far more important.

      It's better to just support good email triage skills. I remember

  • gmail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wwmedia (950346) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:30AM (#21984292)
    google will never add Sorting into gmail,

    it goes against Googles "search not sort" line of taught,

    even tho it would be a useful addition to gmail to be able to sort emails

    fairplay yahoo, their webmail is already alot more user friendly than gmail
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by everphilski (877346)
      even tho it would be a useful addition to gmail to be able to sort emails

      Well, you can fake it easily enough by having mail skip the inbox and using tags like folders. I do that with high-traffic mailing lists that I don't want cluttering my inbox.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spokehedz (599285)
      Yea, but I find I don't have to search/sort because all the emails are threaded for me automatically. So, I don't have to sort by subject--all the emails that have that subject are threaded.
    • Re:gmail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @12:21PM (#21985076)

      fairplay yahoo, their webmail is already alot more user friendly than gmail
      Are there two Yahoos and two Gmails? Or are you writing to us from a parallel universe where Yahoo isn't an evil company whose bloated, slow, flashing ad, spam filled, privacy disrespecting email system actually works well?
      • fairplay yahoo, their webmail is already alot more user friendly than gmail

        Are there two Yahoos and two Gmails? Or are you writing to us from a parallel universe where Yahoo isn't an evil company whose bloated, slow, flashing ad, spam filled, privacy disrespecting email system actually works well?

        I was thinking the same thing. All their neat little features mean little less than nothing if I have to wade through 15-20 spam mails about V!A@rA and other such nonsense. Oh wait, maybe they just want to sort

      • What made you say "privacy disrespecting"? The China incidents?
    • That's silly.

      Search and sort are mathematically dual operations. Given a sort order, you can take the first item as the result of a search. This maps all orderings into searches. Given a search, if you repeatedly remove the top item and redo the search on the remaining items, you'll get a sort order. This maps all searches into sort orderings.

    • > google will never add Sorting into gmail

      When will Gmail add ONE simple thing/sort to its service: expiry.

      "incoming mail can be set to expire instead of just plain deletion," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnus [wikipedia.org] .

      Great for my Inbox. To wit, if it's overflowing with months-old messages, then delete/expire messages at my command.
  • They could start by letting your sort by which emails have attachments and which ones don't without doing a search first.
    • Re:Suggestion (Score:4, Informative)

      by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:53AM (#21984652)
      On my version (the "new" look), you just click on the ubiquitous paperclip icon, whereupon those emails with attachments float to the top. No searching necessary.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yes, but what if you don't like the "new" version because it is hideously, horribly, sadly, terrbily sloooowwww? Not to mention, ugly, clunky an the ads are more intrusive, even using Firefox and Adblock. I really, really hate that Outlook clone and I don't find it fun to use at all.

        If I wanted Outlook, I would use Outlook. I don't. I want simple mail and if they can put the little paper clip thing in the "new" version, it makes no sense that they can't do it with "old" version. That and too much spam are m
  • by Malc (1751) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:36AM (#21984412)
    Threading sounds all right. The rest is tosh. How about they localise properly so I don't have to look at confusing dates in the American format? How hard is that compared with the amount money and time they're throwing at the other crap?
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:38AM (#21984454)
    Gotta love how Yahoo keeps on adding layers to *prevent* you from getting to your email.

    As it is now:
    -You login
    -you get a customizable billboard that lets you preview (but not touch) your email.
    -You must click "Email" to get to your email.
    -It then opens a new window or tab with your email to keep the Ads intact and *hopefully* in your view.

    I can't wait to see how this *new Feature* will enhance the billboard and make my email that much slower and harder to use.
    • by maxume (22995)
      So switch to the old interface. For high volumes of mail it kind of sucks, but it works fine otherwise.
    • by steevc (54110)
      This is why I abandoned Yahoo as my primary web email long ago. I think I ended up there after using Rocket Mail that may have been taken over by them. I still have a Yahoo home page, but only really for a couple of cartoons to start my day. If I try to go to my mail from there I can't seem to get straight to my inbox, so end up needing several click to read any new mail.

      I only really keep my Yahoo account for their Groups, but hardly use that apart from the odd post on Freecycle.

      I'm much happier with Gmail
    • by InfoGeek (596815)

      I have to agree that this "new feature" will probably add yet another layer of complexity and potential instability to an already cluttered interface. YM pulls in so much crap from other Yahoo! services (calendar, ads, weather, tickers, etc. etc...) that its load time lags GMail's -- sometimes dramatically. I've even had the "new" YM freeze completely in the middle of so many calls.

      They should scale back the add-ins and gee-whiz features and concentrate on real improvements like they did with the faceted

    • I agree, its like jumping through hoops to find out where i can buy cheap/all-you-can-eat viagra or which address i need to send my bank info to claim the lottery prize. ohh... and then the fancy gui crashes and asks me to go back to 'classic'! i hate that stupid nerd with glasses! yahoo clippy!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gathas (588371)
      Under options section "When I first visit mail" select "Show me my Inbox" instead of "Show Me the Home Tab". They picked the wrong default when they added this feature (I'm sure on purpose), but you can change it.
    • by xtracto (837672)
      Aahh yahoo sucks anyways. I find it stupid that, even after I have *already* opened an account, entered a darn captcha to verify that the guy who opens the account is indeed a person and then, logged in into such verified account, the darn games pages asks me to solve ANOTHER annoying captcha just for the sake of it... if they at least used recaptcha... but seriously have you seen Yahoo's captchas? sometimes it's impossible to understand them... and why ask for them to already authenticated users???

  • Gmail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AndGodSed (968378)
    I have moved over to Gmail from Yahoo, for me that is the best online mail client out there, and with built in pop3/imap support, whatever Yahoo does had better be one heck of a lot better than what Gmail offers in order to even begin competing...

  • I don't understand what's up with Yahoo!

    They tried a replacement of their My Yahoo! page, which seemingly turned out to be an abysmal attempt at copying Sharepoint or some other CMS. It sucks and as long as the "old" My Yahoo! exists, I'm going to stick with it.

    If their efforts to "improve" my Inbox turn out to be just as bad, I'm moving on. I already have Google and Hotmail accounts, and am more willing to wade through the spam more than I am to endure a horribly designed and "broken" UI.
    • It may not be broken, per se, but just a few posts above someone was talking about how they moved from Yahoo! Mail to Gmail. Losing people like that is close enough to "broken" to demand change. Whether they are going in the right direction is another matter.
  • Reality check (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:45AM (#21984546) Homepage Journal
    I see a number of potential issues with this. There's a very good reason inboxes are normally chronologically sorted - because you are most interested in what is new. I get a daily weather email. I never send email to that address, and it is not part of any social websites. Going by the description of how this new Yahoo system would work, this email would be low priority. With the exception of spam, I really cannot think of any email that I would not want sorted at the top when it first arrives.

    The amount of false positives would be extremely high. Potentially important one-of emails would be ranked of less importance than the typically pointless continuous back and forth banter with people at social networking sites. Unrelated emails would be sorted into threads they don't belong unless the system can contextually link emails with unprecedented accuracy.

    The article goes into a rather contrived example of how Yahoo figures out that a bunch of emails are all related to choosing a restaurant. It automatically groups all the emails together into a thread by context (By what criteria? Because they were all received in the last week and contain the names of restaurants?), then displays the restaurant on a map (why do I need to see a map to choose what type of food I want to eat?), and finally tries to make the decision for you by looking at your previous reviews of various restaurants. This whole scenario is ludicrous. Just because I liked a restaurant, does that mean it is an appropriate place for some sort of business meeting? What if it is too casual? How can they infer that because a restaurant is my highest ranked, that is the only place I would want to eat in the future?

    In the end, I bet this system will amount to nothing more than harvesting your contacts from multiple social sites.

    Dan East
  • by caution live frogs (1196367) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:47AM (#21984586)
    I know more about my relationship with my contacts than any automated program does. I'm a human. Relationships between others are what I am genetically programmed to remember and sort. Computers do this through plain text; humans do it through social context, which extends beyond a single email and into real-world interactions. The sheer number of times I might send email to a specific person has no bearing on how important replies from that contact may be to me. I'm sure most people email coworkers much more often than they email the boss or anyone higher up, but that does not mean I want email from the person who signs my paycheck to be dropped lower in my inbox.

    This is why I use IMAP and a small number of simple sorting rules. Messages from X go into box Y. Obvious spam is quarantined. Both are double-checked by me. If Yahoo wants to improve the email experience, they should start by working with others to fix the broken mail protocols that allowed the proliferation of spam in the first place, not find a way to make social networking spam more obvious in my inbox.
    • by AndGodSed (968378)
      Ah, but if THEY get to figure out your relationships, they can use that info for better marketing. This is a way for them to gather even more info on their users. That's about it.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:54AM (#21984670) Homepage Journal

    Simple thread order or chronological order ignores tons of information that might be available on social networking websites.
    They say that like it's a bad thing!
  • Yahoo gives your account info to the Communist government. You can do a search (persumably not a Yahoo search) on the fucking web about a case that Yahoo giving the account access and mail contents of a human-right activist to the Party-runned security departments, who later imprisoned him. I'm not feeling like doing the search myself because I don't quite like triggering the Great Firewall this week. I am an Anonymous Coward. (Big-Brother: No you're not.)

    As for Google, if only they could implement mail se

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @11:59AM (#21984742)
    One is threaded conversations like GMail offers. I found that very useful.

    The second is IMAP, so I can sync my email and calendar to my phone on the fly.

    That's all that's left. I already prefer it to Gmail by far, if they add that in, I won't even think Gmail can catch up.
  • If there's one suggestion I have for yahoo to improve their email, it's to leave their users the hell alone! I tried to switch to their new beta mail format (the outlookish one), and was immediately greeted by some lame popup which stole focus. It had a little cartoon guy asking me to take a minute so he can show me some cool new features of the new yahoo mail. It said something ridiculous like, "This will be quick, promise!" There was no way to kill the first intro box without another little popup com
  • First, he tells us that there's not much of a chance that somebody would use his insecure domestic wi-fi. Then he tells us:

    "And yes, if someone did commit a crime using my network the police might visit, but what better defense is there than the fact that I have an open wireless network?"

    While I am just rolling my eyes at his attempt to amateurly guess at legal consequences, I am in shock as to how he doesn't see the obvious contradiction in his logic. This guy's whole theory of it being unlikely that

  • You have to set up filters, but that's how I like it. I have about 20 labels and filters. Expected emails (e.g. from bank) get labeled and moved away from the inbox. That way the emails in Inbox are the most important ones. I really like this feature in Gmail. Much better than some other automatic way of sorting (which besides chronological I don't see any other obvious yet useful way).
  • Right now I use Outlook at work, and Thunderbird or Evolution at home (depending on whether I'm on my XP or Linux install) - with these I have my mail sorted by date, so that any mail that comes in is right at the top, I then read that mail. If I ever need to go back to that mail, if I remember when it came in I scroll down to the date and there it is, if I don't I type something in the search box at the top and it nine out of ten times finds it almost instantly. On the rare occasion that it doesn't find
  • If Yahoo really wants to improve my email experience, then they can get rid of the annoying, slow-loading, browser-error-causing ad graphics all over the place. Hello! I'm a paying user! Remember that money I send you every month for my AT&T Yahoo DSL service??
    • by Locklin (1074657)
      I just can't believe people are fine with them modifying outgoing emails to add ads. Way to allow them to make you're outgoing emails both un-professional and annoying.

      Try out the greatest service ever [wikipedia.org]!
  • all i ever wanted was a decent spam filter.
  • by Vexorian (959249)

    Simple thread order or chronological order ignores tons of information that might be available on social networking websites
    Like what kind of information?

    Does this mean yahoo will now sort stuff myspace way (whatever that is) instead of "the way it works"?

  • I had a Yahoo premium account for 2 years and dropped it this year when I discovered Gmail lets you POP for free. Plus they give you little over 6 GB free. I mean please Yahoo I'm not going to pay $20 just so I have the luxury of backing up my email. Plus Gmail's ads are really minimal. Yahoo's ads are all up in your face. Gmail FTW!
  • How is Yahoo improving my inbox when I don't have a yahoo account?
  • ...By saving my mail.

    I tried to reactivate an old forum account last night. I knew that I had a long history of e-mail correspondence with the administrator, and all I had to do was search for the guy's name in my Yahoo mail history and it would pop up. The trouble was, the earliest e-mail Yahoo search was able to produce was from November of 2004. That's a little over 3 years ago. Most of the important correspondence was before November of 2004, and I was unable to use my own e-mail records (which had
    • by Yosho (135835)
      Does anyone know how long Gmail keeps e-mail records? I've been having more and more reason to switch from Yahoo to Gmail, and this may be the last straw for me.

      As far as I'm aware, Google doesn't have any age limit on what they retain. You can keep as much e-mail as your storage limit will allow.

  • What they could do to improve the overall thing instead is to make it compatible with opera(most of the service works since opera 9.5alpha, but not all features). And they could also stop sending me invitations to their beta program that they actually don't offer in my area, as they explicitely tell me once i've made the move to update. I get this invitation everytime i sign in. Of course, there's also gmail, hehe so long yahoo!
  • Please tell me how I delete 1000 messages in a folder without going through several pages of messages?

    And why if I am telling you something is not working (like in Yahoo hiding messages which are reachable by clicking Next once reading one) I am told everything is OK like if I was a rabid lunatic?

    I asked to talk to somebody that understood how email works just to be told more nonsense from a poorly paid tech support reading a script.

    I needed to talk to the circus's animal trainer but they kept sending me wi

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky