Verizon/Yahoo Blocking All Attempts to Archive.org Groups. Deletion: Dec.14

Well, as of sometime on December 5th a huge number of the archivists that were scrambling to rescue archives from Yahoo Groups, had their {e-mail addresses} apparently banned  so they can no longer rescue the archives anymore of the groups they had set up operations to do so.

So that means that for me anyway, Verizon has lost all benefit of the doubt, and is likely at least aware of what Yahoo is doing to groups, or is at worst, complicit.

We are receiving comments and messages from the frustrated and angry groups archivists, and some of those are posted below. You can send in your own if you e-mail it to owlsy@yahoo.com . I won’t put up threatening, nasty or vitriolic messages however, so you can be angry, but be angry in a controlled way that makes us better than them.

From some of our archivists, dated Wednesday, December 4th:

Just a quick (and sad) update…

The Archive Team (who is working with to save content to upload to the Internet Archive) was again blocked by Yahoo The block is wiping out the past month of work done by hundreds of volunteers.

This info was reported on their IRC channel .

Yahoo banned all the email addresses that the Archive Team volunteers had been using to join Yahoo Groups in order to download data. Verizon has also made it impossible for the Archive Team to continue using semi-automated scripts to join Yahoo Groups – which means each group must be re-joined one by one, an impossible task (redo the work of the past 4 weeks over the next 10 days)

On top of that, something Yahoo did has killed the last third party tool that users and owners have been using to access their messages, photos and files. (PGOlffine).. Note: not everyone who paid for the PGOffline license is being impacted by the problem. but the developer does not have a workaround. Here is their post about it .

Yahoo’s own data tools do not provide Group Photos and, as in my case, for two IDs I keep getting the data from another Yahoo account.

The Internet Archive/Archive Team Faces 80% Loss of Data Due To Verizon Blocking

@betamax meedee+: we’ve lost the access to the vast majority of the groups we joined [because Verizon blocked access to our accounts]

 …. the effect is that some percentage…..of the signed up groups can no longer be fetched from ….”

They are working to get a final number but the Archive Team estimates that is a 80% loss of the Groups they and their volunteers spent the last month joining in preparation for archiving.

For our community, this is a 100% loss of the Groups we submitted to the Archive Team for? archiving?(30,000).

Morgan Dawn

Hello Brenda,

Thanks for reaching out. It would be really great if you could both forward it to Verizon and publish it on the blog. We had a lot of ‘external’ (non Archive Team) volunteers helping out, with the expectation that the groups they were joining would be saved, and it is important to communicate to them that Yahoo have basically destroyed most of our progress and work will now need to begin from scratch. I want to avoid a situation where someone comes along in six months time, asking for a group they expected to be saved because they joined it, and having to tell them we didn’t manage to save it.

It would also be good to communicate to Yahoo our disappointment that they decided to block our archival efforts without opening a dialogue with us. We’ve always said we’d be happy to work with Yahoo to archive Groups in a way that minimizes disruption to their services. Realistically the only way we’re going to get anywhere near the number of groups we had joined prior to their mass-banning of our accounts is with an extension to the deletion date, which I know you’ve been pushing strongly for. (The ‘best’ solution would be for Verizon to un-ban our accounts, but I doubt that is going to happen).

Many thanks for your fantastic work so far in keeping the spotlight and pressure on Yahoo / Verizon.

Kind regards,

FROM NIGHTOWL:

Today I received another response from Verizon:

Hi Brenda:

I hope to address your concerns and add some clarity on the issues you’re referencing.

Regarding the 128 people that joined Yahoo Groups with the goal to archive them – are those people from Archiveteam.org? If so, their actions violated our Terms of Service . Because of this violation, we are unable reauthorize them. Also, moderators of Groups can ban users if they violate their Groups’ terms, so previously banned members will be unable to download content from that Group. If you can send the user information, we can investigate the cause of lack of access.

The Groups Download Manager will download any content an individual posted to Yahoo Groups. However, it will not download attachments and photos uploaded to the Group by other members. For those that are having difficulty with the files delivered, this help article explains the types of files within the .zip file sent and how to find third party applications that open them. This is the only way that we can deliver data to our users.

While users will no longer be able to post or upload content to the site, the email functionality exists. If you are having issues with this feature, please reach out to YahooGroupsEscalations@verizonmedia.com and we will work to fix the problem with any delay.

I understand your usage of groups is different from the majority of our users, and we understand your frustration. However, the resources needed to maintain historical content from Yahoo Groups pages is cost-prohibitive, as they’re largely unused.

Regarding your concern around timeline, on 10/16, we posted this help page and began sending emails to Groups users explaining the changes to come, including the 12/14 deadline for download request.

On 11/12 and 11/19, we confirmed in email to you that so long as a request to download was put in by December 14th, we will ensure your download is complete before any deletion. This is the case for all Groups users and step-by-step instructions are being sent now to users to support them through the process.

We recognize this transition may be difficult, and we’d like to provide as much assistance and clarity as we can.

Best,

(name omitted).

From there, I sent two replies — one when I was angrier, and one when I calmed down

To: (name omitted)

VERIZON/YAHOO does NOT understand our frustration.

THE GROUPS ARE BROKEN.

THE ACCESS IS OFF AND ON.

THE MAIL IS A MESS.

YAHOO has mistreated us and abused us all for 6 years, and it’s all coming out this weekend. VERIZON owns Yahoo now, and is the one who should clean up their mess.

If we are allowed to have our archives from Verizon/Yahoo, then we should be able to get them ourselves any way we wish. All Verizon plans to do is throw it away. The stuff you send us is messed up, broken, incomplete, and virus ridden. It is UNACCEPTABLE as a solution.

The 128 people you banned were REQUESTED by the group owners to get their stuff.

Verizon refuses to give us more time to get it. We can’t do it in 7 days.

So, we will continue to press public opinion about this issue, in every arena that we can with all that we have to make this deletion stop and give us more time, and work something out with Verizon to get our stuff, which is costly to store, and go away.

Bottom line. Give us our archives and we’ll leave and never come back.

Thank you sincerely,

Brenda

……And this is the second e-mail I sent when I calmed down:

Good evening (name omitted)

Please relay this to Verizon/Yahoo.

This is the unfairness that Verizon has shown to Yahoo Groups Users.

First of all, the initial letter said that Verizon had researched the use of Yahoo Groups. This is a complete falsehood. You know how I know it is? Because if you had truly researched the use of Yahoo Groups, you’d have found the 30,000 active groups that are used often, many on a daily basis, despite them being broken in many areas. But Verizon did not do that. If they had, they would have found:

A police cooperative in Washington DC that was using them as a network to communicate with their respective neighborhoods with over 17,000 members.

A phone company in the UK that assigns phone numbers using the groups and now will lose all those phone designations when it’s deleted.

A Birding group in new Delhi with 2,000 members that has collected data and research on birds for TWO DECADES.

An Adoption group in France, that has been using it for years and years to communicate and share history and photos and more.

They also would have found:

Numerous support groups for people who are suicidal or depressed.

Numerous medical groups for people to communicate more effectively with their doctors.

Numerous Vet groups with 24 hr care advice for sick pets.

Numerous support and help groups for the Elderly.

Numerous Historical groups for WW2 Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, and etc.

Numerous science groups that have used them for years and have all their research there.

Numerous fan fiction groups or arts groups that have shared their work for years.

No Verizon, these groups are NOT largely unused. You just didn’t do your homework. You didn’t find us, who could have told you they were used all the time. You didn’t make an effort to understand what groups were, and how they were used. You just decided they weren’t being used, and weren’t important and decided, “Hey, let’s just delete them!”

So not researching thoroughly, and probably listening to Yahoo’s telling you they weren’t being used was your first mistake.

The second mistake, when the intial plan to delete our archives was hatched, some people learned it on October 17th. Not everyone did. That’s because it was very quiet and low key, and not everyone goes to the website all the time. Many use it when they need to search for something, or check out a photo. The point is it’s a mail list with an archive.

Some e-mails were sent to members, and perhaps maybe all were sent, but believe me, all did not arrive on that date. People began finding out by receiving letters days, weeks, and even a full month later. This is because Groups e-mail is unreliable. Period. It has been unreliable since Mayer broke it in 2013.

Even those learning it on October 17th, had a very small window of time to save their group. It was a period of 58 days, less than 2 months. That was never going to be enough time for over 30,000 groups to save their archives.

As you said, photos were not downloaded from the groups as a group. So anyone who wanted them had to manually save them by hand. And there are groups with thousands or hundreds of thousands of photos, especially art groups and photography groups. It couldn’t be done in the time we were given.

This delay in us finding out, left barely weeks for some people to act. Thus the panic all over the Internet, which Verizon would see if they would just look, was immediate and furious. They came to me, because I stopped the destruction of Yahoo Groups in 2010, and have been crusading against Yahoo for their unethical treatment of us, and fighting to protect our archives for 6 years.

So, as I had kept the Crusade blog up and the Crusade groups open, they all fled back to me. And this time, it wasn’t that we couldn’t get them [our archives] and leave, and it wasn’t that they had broken access. This time Verizon planned total destruction. This time it was for keeps. So of course, I had to start the Crusade again and take it to high gear.

So the best thing Verizon could do, since they are just going to throw us all into the trash anyway, as we aren’t important to them, is let us get our archives any way we can.

The terms of service really should not apply to people who have been told, we’re gonna delete you from existence. If it’s lawful for us to get them from you, in broken buggy and virus ridden state, it’s just as lawful for us to get them ourselves.

Yahoo made a huge mess of us. I tried to warn Verizon even before they purchased it. They did not listen. Now they have the mess on their hands, and we will not be silent. Even if Verizon really does delete us out of existence, we will never stop telling the world what they and Yahoo did. Because it’s high time Yahoo Groups Users start being treated as human beings again.

Bottom line. Verizon is being unfair to a group of people using a property they purchased, they are being unethical in the manner in which they announced it, and unreasonable in the time that they gave us to accomplish it.

So we demand fair and equal treatment, and will stand up for it until we get it.

Sincerely,

Brenda Fowler

Ooohkay-then.  Thats how they want to be. As you know, the Owl’s gloves are off and this really nails it home how complicit Verizon is going to be.  At the same time, press has become aware of Verizon/Yahoo’s choice to become another statistic for bad PR over the matter.  We too have this power, and some articles about our cause are already pending over this weekend. 

It is time that we take this up a notch.  Archiving is still going on through the various teams, but we can begin the fight on another side of this scenario. Won’t you join us?

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