After 20 Years, Yahoo Directory Gets The Axe

Chris CrumSearch

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It is truly the end of an era. Yahoo officially announced that it's killing off the Yahoo Directory. Okay, maybe that era technically ended a long time ago, but it's really over now.

Do you miss the days of the Yahoo Directory? We probably won't be talking about it much ever again, so do you have anything interesting to say about it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Yahoo actually announced the closure of three products: Yahoo Directory, Qwiki and Yahoo Education.

Yahoo SVP, Cloud Platform Group, Jay Rositer said in a blog post, "At Yahoo, focus is an important part of accomplishing our mission: to make the world’s daily habits more entertaining and inspiring. To achieve this focus, we have sunset more than 60 products and services over the past two years, and redirected those resources toward products that our users care most about and are aligned with our vision. With even more smart, innovative Yahoos focused on our core products - search, communications, digital magazines, and video - we can deliver the best for our users."

Here's what he said about Yahoo Directory specifically: "Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly."

While it's supposed to be retired at the end of the year, a lot of people (myself included) are having trouble accessing it as of the time of this writing.

Here are some early reactions to the product's demise:

In case you thought the Yahoo Directory was completely ignored, here are some tweets from before the announcement:

Danny Sullivan made a good point about how Yahoo Directory was the "gateway" to the web back in the old days. Google is currently defending itself against critics who call it the same thing.

Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt recently said Google is not the “gateway to the Internet as the publishers suggest,” and that “to get news, you’ll probably go direct to your favorite news site. It’s why newspapers like Bild, Le Monde and the Financial Times get most of their online traffic directly (less than 15% comes from Google). Or you might follow what other people are reading on Twitter. To book a flight or buy a camera for your next holiday, you’re as likely go to a site like Expedia or Amazon as you are Google. If you’re after reviews for restaurants or local services, chances are you’ll check out Yelp or TripAdvisor. And if you are on a mobile phone — which most people increasingly are — you’ll go straight to a dedicated app to check the sports scores, share your photos or look for recommendations."

The fact that Yahoo Directory was once looked upon as the gateway is a good addition to that defense. These so-called "gateways" can become obsolete, and Yahoo's is actually about to be completely dead. I don't see Google dying anytime soon, but it shows that competition can displace a previously dominant player.

In its heyday, the Yahoo Directory offered free, standard listings and a paid submission process before moving to a model of $299 for a non-refundable "review fee". It would cost sites the same amount each year if they were to be listed. Google is actually a signifiant part of why paid directories have declined, so I guess that part of it doesn't make Google look any better in the competition debate. For that matter, Yahoo also recently killed its Contributor Network thanks to Google's Panda update.

Yahoo made the jump from human-edited directory listings to a crawler-based index in 2002, though it's kept the directory around until now. In 2010, the company said it had no plans to close the directory, but a lot has happened since then, and a former Googler is running the show these days.

Directories have long been a major part of the Internet, even if that's been less the case in more recent years. The closure of arguably the most notable directory in the history of the modern web is pretty significant.

What are your thoughts about the Yahoo Directory shutting down? Share in the comments.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.