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Yahoo Groups for My Intranet
Sep 07, 2001 :: Michael Sippey

I want Yahoo Groups for my intranet.

Yahoo Groups (YG) is a dumb-simple and fantastically-featured mailing list management system. It makes the easy things easy (creating a list, inviting people to join a list, allowing user-initiated subscribes / unsubscribes), and makes the difficult things easy, too (offering list digests, providing searchable web-accessible archives, handling bouncing messages and unsubscribing those addresses). Yahoo Groups allows a motivated listowner to focus on the content of the community rather than the mechanics.

But YG is not only a mailing list management system, it's a fully-featured platform for communities of interest (e.g. "a project team") to collaborate and share information. It offers real-time chat, file posting, photo posting, bookmark sharing, surveys, calendaring, and a simple database system. And, best of all, each of those features can be integrated into the email flow of the group -- add an item to the calendar, and you can opt to have a reminder automatically emailed to the entire group.

And on top of those group-level features, YG provides a directory of groups, enabling communities to register themselves in a hierarchy, and facilitating easy discovery of those groups by interested parties. Not only that, if groups choose to make their activities public, you don't even need to be a member of a group to have access to their information. Combine the web-based content with a simple spy system, and any user can avoid the unnecessary email traffic while being instantly alerted to relevant content.

Oh, and it's probably obvious, but not only would everything be spy-able, but everything would be searchable. Not only through YG's internal search functionality, but also through any other indexing / search engine.

I've worked with Exchange servers. I've worked with outsourced third party ASPs. I've worked with Groove. Nothing comes close to the simplicity, power and flexibility of YG.

What about Mailman you ask? Wouldn't cut it -- it's just for mailing lists, no file sharing, no calendaring, no bookmarks, no central directory of lists. Sourceforge? Closer, but the only implementation I've worked with is geared more towards the developer than the average user. I don't want integrated CVS; I want dumb simple.

(Oh, and in case you're wondering why I want it installed behind my firewall? Simple -- I don't my information on Yahoo's servers, and I'm not interested in relying on the whims of their business direction for a mission-critical app.)

I'd hazard to guess that Yahoo's not interested in getting into application software market, so I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to provide a licensable tarball. But it's such a shame that the simplicity of a freely accessible consumer-focused app blows the socks off of so many commercial apps.



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