The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

Why Yahoo Is Losing

Posted in Rant, Technology, Uncategorized by Noah Harlan on May 26, 2010

Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, had a fiesty sit-down with Michael Arrington of TechCrunch yesterday at the Disrupt conference. Aside from telling him to “fuck off” she said the following:

What is Yahoo? Yahoo is a company that is very strong in content. It’s moving towards the web of one. We have 32,000 variations on our front page module. We serve a million of those a day. It’s all customized. Our click-through rate went up twice since we started customizing this. People come to check the things they like. “You can just get it together.” Yahoo is one site people always stop at.

Unfortunately, they’re lazy. I used to read Yahoo news as my default home page. I don’t anymore. Why? I hate their layout. They pay no attention, whatsoever, to user experience and, instead, are focussed on forcing “click-through” rates instead of providing a better product.  Here’s an example.

I was trying to read an AFP article on BP’s attempt to perform a “top kill” to shut off the oil leak (deluge?) in the gulf. This is what the page looked like:

The information that I really wanted to know is “what is a top kill”. Lucky for me there is a handy infographic on the left side. So let’s click on that to see it larger, shall we?  Here’s what we get:

Putting aside the garish red ad and the sponsored links and the morass of related links, trending topics, and other things Carol wants me to click on, there is one thing I wanted from this page: a legible version of the diagram from the page before. Can I have that?


Here is the largest version of that infographic that Yahoo makes available:

A Useless Image From Yahoo

Can you read a word of it? I can’t.

Yahoo succeeded in a click-through and offered nothing of value. If you are advertising on that platform you gained nothing from that additional page view and I have gained nothing of value from Yahoo.

Fuck off, Carol.

And just for contrast, here’s the completely legible infographic the New York Times offered to illustrated the same thing:

A Useful Graphic


4 Responses

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  1. Seth said, on May 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Great point, Noah. Not surprising that Yahoo’s average user engagement time is plummeting, too.–average-minutes-per-visitor-2010-5?utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SAI_COTD_052610

  2. Noah said, on May 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Yep. Feed people crap and they’ll eventually stop eating.

  3. Laura said, on May 26, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Imagine if you’d try to read the article about “top kill” that was written by one of the “journalists” that Yahoo hired to create original content for Yahoo News. You wouldn’t have seen that graphic, but you would have been subjected to some of the worst writing on the Web. You can see how the article looked before (an editor tried to correct some of the errors) here:
    Yahoo eventually took the article down. But if Yahoo wants to be “strong on content” it had better start producing better content. Every day its writers and editors make some of the most egregious mistakes known to personkind. — Laura (at — a blog devoted to the crimes against language and accuracy made by Yahoo employees)

  4. Noah said, on May 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Most unimpressive copy writing skills…

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