Yahoo! announced it would shut down all its Yahoo Groups, including the once-influential Route 66 Group, on Dec. 15.
In an email Monday, Yahoo! stated “with heavy hearts” it would shut down those groups on that date:
Yahoo Groups has seen a steady decline in usage over the last several years. Over that same period we’ve witnessed unprecedented levels of engagement across our properties as customers seek out premium, trustworthy content. To that end, we must sometimes make difficult decisions regarding products that no longer fit our long-term strategy as we hone our focus on other areas of the business. […]
Thank you for helping us build one of the earliest digital communities — we’re proud and honored to have forged countless connections over the last 20 years and played a small part in helping build your communities.
The announcement wasn’t a surprise. Yahoo! said about a year ago it would remove all uploaded content from all its groups, which signaled it soon would shut them down entirely.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the Route 66 Group moderators in January announced a migration to the MeWe platform. In fact, the Route 66 group on Yahoo changed its banner to list the address of the MeWe site.
As of this week, the MeWe Route 66 group had about 350 members — pretty good, but a far cry from the nearly 2,000 members the Route 66 group had on Yahoo.
Mike Ward, one of the moderators, said in an email he was surprised Yahoo Groups stayed around as long as they did.
Ward said he received a download of the Route 66 Yahoo Group database, but converting it into something search- and user-friendly appears problematic:
The downloads basically came to me in three categories – files, messages, and photos and attachments. The files and photos and attachments were mostly JPEGs and PDFs and are easily to open and view. The old message posts, all 20K of them, came across in 30 separate files with undetermined file types. They look like this – 91726.mbox.00001 and a type of 00001 File. I haven’t really had much luck converting these files to something that’s readable. Each file runs a little more than 10K in size but for simple text files that’s a lot of data. There are some items I found in Google about programs to run an .mbox file but I haven’t taken the time to go into them. I suppose there are a few old postings that might be of interest but it may not be worth the time to find something that will open the .mbox files and then search through everything.
The original Route 66 e-group, which later migrated to Yahoo, claimed to be “the place on the Internet to ‘talk 66.’” More than 8,000 posts were recorded in 2003, including 1,191 in July alone.
The group also played a crucial role in lobbying for the formation of the impactful but now-defunct 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.
In addition, the group was where the Route 66 e-group breakfast and similar gatherings were organized.
The big culprit in the original e-group’s downfall was the rise of Facebook and other social media during the late 2000s. The number of posts on the Route 66 group had been roughly halved by 2009. By 2014, it was a shadow of its former self. The last time the group saw more than 100 posts in a month was mid-2017.
(Screen capture of the Route 66 Yahoo Group home page in October 2019)