End of an era: Yahoo! will scale back Route 66 group

Yahoo! recently announced it will stop allowing uploads of content on all its Yahoo Groups — including the once-seminal and 20-year-old Route 66 group — on Oct. 28 and remove all uploaded content in mid-December.

One of the group’s longtime members and moderators, Mike Ward, passed along the news Monday and posted a Yahoo link that details the cutbacks:

Yahoo has made the decision to no longer allow users to upload content to the Yahoo Groups site. Beginning October 28 you won’t be able to upload any more content to the site, and as of December 14 all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed. You’ll have until that date to save anything you’ve uploaded.

Here is what will be deleted:

  • Files
  • Polls
  • Links
  • Photos
  • Folders
  • Calendar
  • Database
  • Attachments
  • Conversations
  • Email updates
  • Message digests
  • Message history

The Route 66 group will continue to exist, but no one will be able to upload content to it. Members can continue to share information via email.

But with this big cutback and the option Yahoo! publicly has given to members to download content, one has to invariably conclude the entire group soon will be deleted, as well. Other members of the group have concurred.

There’s no word whether the group will migrate to another online platform. Facebook contains dozens of Route 66 pages, but none with the cohesion the e-group held during its early years.

Ward noted activity on the group is “WAY down” from earlier years. Only about 150 posts have been recorded this year.

Indeed, more than 8,000 posts were recorded in 2003, including 1,191 in July alone. It claimed to be “the place on the Internet to ‘talk 66,'” and rightly so.

The Route 66 group — originally called the Route 66 e-group during its January 1999 launch before Yahoo! acquired it and other groups a few years later — became a focal point in the establishment of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. National Historic Route 66 Federation founder David Knudson shepherded a letter-writing campaign to lobby Congress to pass legislation for the program. The group also was where the Route 66 e-group breakfast and similar gatherings were organized.

Now, with the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program about to legislatively sunset in a few weeks, it appears the Route 66 Yahoo Group might be sunsetting, as well.

The creation of Route 66 News in October 2005 siphoned away some readers. This website was created not to steal Route 66 Yahoo Group readers, but to serve as a timely and open source of Route 66 information. But the group was accessible only to members and therefore limited in its ability to spread information.

Dozens of former e-groupers told me they’d drifted away because of Route 66 News’ daily stories and its ability to show multimedia content such as videos, photographs, links and audio.

At last count, the total number of people on the Route 66 Yahoo Group was 1,934, though some of those members have died or are inactive.

The big culprit in the erosion of the group was the rise of Facebook and other social media during the late 2000s. The number of posts on the Route 66 Yahoo Group had roughly halved by 2009 and fell off a cliff by 2014. The last time the group saw more than 100 posts in a month was mid-2017.

A few diehards, professing a dislike for Facebook, clung to the group. But it was clear they had become a tiny minority.

Ward said he’s asked for a full download of the Route 66 Yahoo Group archive. Let’s hope he gets it because the discussions on the group hold historical value on Route 66’s renaissance.

(Screen capture of the Route 66 Yahoo Group home page)

11 thoughts on “End of an era: Yahoo! will scale back Route 66 group

  1. Yahoo groups being replaced/deleted, etc because of FB, kind of like Route 66 being replaced when the interstate system came along replacing it gradually till it’s final end in 1985. Maybe a Historic Route 66 Yahoo Group will be born.

    1. Maybe it will. But I suspect it’s too late. The group already has dwindled down to almost nothing. It should have made the transition to another platform years ago before members found alternatives.

  2. A year or so ago, a society that I belong to had trouble with its Yahoo! online platform, if that is the correct terminology. It switched to Groups.io – and the group is working smoothly. Is that a possibility for Route 66 group? I believe all the content was successfully transferred from Yahoo! to Groups.io .

  3. Ron – is it possible to download and save all the content on the Yahoo! platform before Yahoo! deletes it? I find the very short period before the content’s deletion akin to closing a library and destroying all the books at a few weeks’ notice. In other words, electronic vandalism – not far removed from illegal hacking.

    1. I’ve found no way to download all the content. Mike Ward has asked to do so, but I’m not aware there’s been a response from Yahoo.

      And Yahoo probably owns all the content. It’s not hacking or vandalism if it owns it.

  4. Thanks, Ron. To me utter irresponsility, even criminal. What if it was a bank that had taken your money and it said we’re tearing up all the cash you had deposited with it?

  5. Yahoo sent me an email that says it could take up to 30 days for the download to be available. I am particularly concerned with the many thousands of “conversations” going back almost 20 years. That is what I hope Yahoo makes available for download.

  6. Thanks, Michael. As the saying goes: “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. When Freeserve was shut down, I knew I had all my ‘important’ emails (both in and out) stored on my desktop in my house. What if a provider of ‘cloud’ storage decided to close down? Yahoo! is showing a total lack of acknowledgement of its responsibllities towards its users and of the trust the users had (past tense) in Yahoo! Will anyone trust it in the future?

    1. This will be very cold comfort, but I remember 15 years ago during the big blogging era when Robert Scoble said he’d lost many months’ worth of blog content when a host simply died with no warning. Nowadays, most internet hosts have backup systems if the worst happens, but I always kept in mind if you’re not proactive, everything is potentially expendable.

  7. Ron: in cabinets behind me I have tens of thousands of 35mm colour transparncies, and 5 inch by 8 inch index cards with all their details – dating back to the 1970s. In a drawer I have negatives with indexes dating back to the 1950s. On my desktop computer hard drives I have files of the digital images I have taken since 2006. I know which are the more durable.

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