Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yahoo my arse

Has your Yahoo! account been deleted? Mine too, mate.

Boredom does very strange things to people. It makes you sign up to all sorts of weird forums and websites, and read all sorts of bizarre blogs (as you know by being here right now) and in my case, questions. I signed up to Yahoo! Answers a month ago, a site where, providing you have an email account with Yahoo!, you can register and ask or answer lots of stuff. Anyone can join, providing you are over 13 that is.

Once registered, the site is your oyster, with hundreds of thousands of questions for you to answer, organised into hundreds of subcategories (How to get your hamster to stop biting you? Check! How to burp a baby? Check! Where to buy X-brand of trainers? Of course!) or, if you fancy, you can ask your own question and wait eagerly (or maybe that's just sad old me) for the answers to flood in. Y!A also has incentives which appeal to the competitive kid in all of us by way of a points system. If your answer a question you get two points and if it's good enough and chosen as 'best' you get 10, and so on. The amount of points you accumulate dictates how much you can contribute to the site, and the more you have, the more you can do. It all makes for a rather addictive and occasionally hilarious way to waste time.

So, there I was, happily answering people's dilemmas, being careful to keep to the rather patronising site guidelines (no insulting people, quote your sources, don't chew with your mouth open) when I found myself automatically logged out, the happy 'ready to participate?' logo staring at me. I instinctively checked my email only to find a robo-mail from someone called Jack (Shit?) at Y!A Customer Care saying that my account had been suspended pending deletion and if I wanted, I could write to them defending myself.

Apart from the odd 'I don't think a pink dress would flatter your skintone, try a red' or 'Yes, I agree, Madonna really should give the weights a rest' comment, which were the most opinionated of all my answers (I don't think my answer to 'why do you love Shih-tzus?' would have offended anyone) nothing I posted was in breach of Y!A terms of use or guidelines.

So, write to them I did, on their rather self important 'appeal' page, stating the above and asking for a full account reinstatement, together with all 300 of my slaved-over points, not to mention my emails. I received an automated email back shortly afterwards, from a Veronica this time, saying, stubbornly, that they would not reinstate it and I was advised to familiarise myself with their rules before signing up again. I had my email account invalidated too, so I couldn't sign up with that address again, thus having to make a new one. It was hard for me not to imagine smug little Jack and Veronica sitting there with their tongues sticking out.

Beaten but not ready to give up just yet, I signed up again. A week into frantic question answering, and feeling good about my stash of points, the same thing happened. I got a duplicate email from another droid, (I didn't appeal this time, as I figured that there are many more fish in the sea) then the same account deletion notice. Thanks for using Yahoo, indeed. Given all this, and the time I wasted, I started a mission to find out why my account was scrapped and find people who have gone through the same thing. More is to come over the next week.

Have you had your precious collection of points incinerated and you don't know why? Did you wake up to find Veronica or Jack had paid you a visit? Let us know and we'll investigate.

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