OngoingWorlds blog

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


Yahoo! Groups Sims… Take Note

This article was written for us by Sam Jones from the roleplaying game “Chronicles of Gaea”.

Yahoo groups in a CoffinAs you may or may not have heard, Yahoo! is going through some financial difficulties. This isn’t a huge surprise to those of us who have been using their products for years, but it still is something of concern, especially for the simming community.

Yahoo! Groups has been invaluable (and, even further back, Egroups and ONElist) for play-by-email simming.  I, personally, have been using them for fifteen years.  They archived everything, so as long as your old sim group wasn’t deleted, all the posts still exist.  Permissions issues notwithstanding.

So, what does Yahoo!’s current financial situation have to do with simming?  Bottom line, Groups may be threatened.  If Yahoo! gets purchased by an outside company or files for bankruptcy, they might cull the old groups and/or change the system to a more modern one.  All those posts from years ago could be in jeopardy.  Not only that, but any ongoing games still using Yahoo! Groups might need to adapt to a new system to continue their story seamlessly, and at a temporally convenient time.

What can we do about it?  Many sims have already moved away from Yahoo! Groups, to Google Groups, Nova, forums, or other similar systems, OngoingWorlds included.  What I’m personally concerned with are the archives.  There’s literally two decades worth of posts for some sims out there that could be lost forever.  I have been working (admittedly slowly) on curating a history of Tango Fleet and Sixth Fleet sims, and these archives have helped immensely.  Already some sims are lost to time, which is unfortunate.  I’d like to prevent more loss, If I can.

PG Offline

If you still have access to your old sims, PG Offline is a program that will log in to your group and download every post, every file, and every image to your computer.  It will create the database in sqlite so it can be viewed with outside programs. (With a little work, this database can be transferred to a forum or other software.)  I have used this to archive all the old sims I have access to, and I know of others who are working on permanent sim archives with the same.  The only limitation is the free version is a trial and only lasts for 30 days.  Beyond that, you have to purchase a license for $24.95.

Much like Google Groups, this is a replacement for Yahoo! Groups, especially for ongoing games.  The differences here are the features.  Not only does offer to import your Yahoo! group for free, but they also have features Yahoo! doesn’t.  Such as subgroups (for specific teams or stories affecting a portion of your sim), hashtag integration for post sorting, a basic wiki for storing game information (each group and sub-group has their own), among others.  To me, this seems a great replacement.  Yahoo! Groups is a limited product as well, so moving to a newer system might be a better option anyway.  I’m just not convinced of the reliability of the .io top-level domain, not having heard anything regarding it.

The bottom line is, Yahoo!’s days are numbered.  Even if they emerge out of their current financial difficulties otherwise unscathed, Groups is still threatened.  Email lists have been going out of fashion for years as sims have moved to forums or Nova.  It’s only a matter of time before Groups, and the years of posts, gets the ax.  Don’t let that history fade into… history.

This article was written for us by Sam Jones from the roleplaying game “Chronicles of Gaea”.