OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


My first PbEM game on Yahoo Groups

Yahoo Groups logo

Yahoo Groups logo

The first text-based RPG I joined was a Star Trek game, ran in a Yahoo Group. A Yahoo group was an idea medium for the game, as it allowed you to email one address, and the email would be filtered out to every member in the game. It was a true PbEM game, as it all happened by email.

I setup my own PbEM using a Yahoo Group because I was happy with this format. Then over the years, Yahoo changed slightly and allowed you to view the messages on the Yahoo Group pages. It still kept the functionality of being able to submit posts by email, but you could also do it on the web too, which I actually prefer to this day, as submitting it by email just isn’t as reliable and seems to take longer.

The Yahoo Group has a few extras that you can make use of, like a photo gallery, an area to upload files, and a rudimentary “database” to add data. At first I thought this database would be useful for keeping a record of all characters, but it was too limited for what we needed. We wanted a place to keep character information without having to post it, and keep finding it in the messages list when we needed to. So I created a separate website and wrote a system that allowed members of my PbEM game to login and edit their own character biographies, upload a character picture etc.

This still works fine today, but I’m finding it increasingly frustrating that we have two separate places to look. It would just be so much more handy if the picture of the character on the website appeared next to the post on the Yahoo Group. Or if you could quickly see the member’s list of characters by clicking on their profile name in Yahoo Groups, rather than typing in a separate website address. This separation also means that the characters don’t get edited or updated for long periods of time, making them less useful and less likely other members are going to check back and read their character biographies.

Advantages of using Yahoo Groups

The major advantage is that it’s all setup for you, making it incredibly quick and easy to get started. There’s no software to setup or web hosting to sort out like there would be if you were creating your own hosted forum or blog. Yahoo will sort out any technical issues, and times when there have been problems, their guys seem to fix the problems quite quickly.

Another advantage is that it’s not limited to just email, or just web-based, it’s both. You can view the messages on the web, or get them sent to you via email, and you can post either on the web or via email.

  • Web-based message archive
  • Can email your post if you want to
  • Don’t have to setup your own software.

Disadvantages of using Yahoo groups

Posting your message to the group via email is hazardous, and I’ve seen so many go missing or arrive late, which ends up with your story posts appearing out of continuity and fights occur between members of whose post arrived first. This has happened so many times that I’ve recommended to my members that posting should be always done via the web.

Yahoo groups hasn’t changed much in many years, and it’s gradually being left behind. One major drawback for me is that Yahoo could drop the service at any time, just like they recently did with Geocities.

Yahoo Groups tries to be all things to all people. It’s not specifically for PbEM games, and there are a lot of things that I think would benefit me as a player and a GM. There’s nowhere for character profiles to be kept, or anywhere to list equipment or locations on your game.

  • Posting via email not reliable
  • Not updated often
  • No specific PbEM tools