Yahoo!

From ArticleWorld


Yahoo! is the name of a website (www.yahoo.com) and of the company that operates it. Yahoo! provides several services, from e-mail to blogging, directory and a comprehensive set of portal functions.

History

Yahoo! was started by two Stanford graduates, David Filo and Jerry Yang. The project was started in 1994, initially under the name of "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web", later renamed as "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" as a backronym for Yahoo!. Historically, it was first hosted on Yang's workstation.

Yahoo! went public in 1996, on April 12, and its increasing popularity offered it great marketing success, that allowed them to acquire other companies as well.

Services

At the moment, Yahoo! provides several services, of which the most important ones are:

  • Yahoo! Mail, which is a web-based e-mail service
  • Yahoo! IM, a popular instant messaging platform that uses a sophisticated client, Yahoo! Messenger, as the official client.
  • Yahoo! Groups, which is a fancy name for an otherwise comprehensive mailing list set of services

In addition to these, Yahoo! also provides directory functions, auction services, web hosting (through GeoCities), online chat and games.

The recently more highlighted search engine war engaged with Google is still fervent at the time of writing. After acquiring Inktomi, AltaVista and AlltheWeb, Yahoo! stopped offering Google-powered search results and resorted to its own technologies. This was a controversial move, as the results were arguably less relevant.

Criticism

Yahoo! was subject to serious controversy in April 2005, when Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Chinese court. Shi Tao received this sentence after sending an e-mail through an anonymous Yahoo! Mail account. The e-mail contained facts about a censorship order against a number of democracy-militant websites. The Chinese authorities declared that they had received the incriminatory details from Yahoo! Holdings. This came to intensify ongoing criticism, after Li Zhi was sentenced to 8 years in prison, after Yahoo! allegedly aided the Chinese authorities.

Also freedom-of-speech-related was the criticism regarding the so-called Mail certification. Yahoo! and AOL announced an agreement that would allow users to certify their e-mail: paying 1 US cent for a message would allow that e-mail to freely pass over spam filters. Many viewed this as a tax on speech, that would end up having other providers raising spam filters strictness unnecessarily so that users would be forced to pay.