I used eGroups back in the day. They got bought out by Yahoo in 2000 and became a part of Yahoo Groups, but I know at least one guy who still calls ’em eGroups.
Sometime thereafter Google got into the game. I believe Google Groups started as a Usenet archive, but they rather quickly deployed a service that was basically a Yahoo Groups clone.
I’ve continued to use Yahoo Groups for a decade now. They don’t have that sexy and shiny Web 2.0 veneer that we all know and love, but they get the job done. They are fairly easy to manage, even for people who aren’t terribly tech savvy, and they enable large (or small) groups of people to communicate with one another easily from all over the world. They have a kind of easy egalitarianism which I like.
I have set up such groups for two branches of my family, my book club, Friends of Lafitte Corridor, my neighborhood group, the local Green Party, and several others I’m not remembering right now.
Yet sometimes Yahoo Groups feels kind of clunky to me. Surely there must be something better, with all the innovation on the web.
Such is the luster of Google these days that, at some point, I assumed Google Groups must be that “something better.” After all, many of their other products are pretty amazing. (I hear their search engine is pretty good.) That led me to create a couple or three groups on Google.
After a couple years, I’m ready to say conclusively that Google Groups aren’t that great.
Yahoo Groups has a number of features which Google hasn’t bothered to implement, even after all these years. Want to poll group members about something? Want to start a simple database everyone can add to? Yahoo makes it easy. These features are not to be found in Google.
But the real pisser is the basic functionality of Google Groups just isn’t there. In essence the idea of a group is like a mailing list. A user subscribes and then gets updates sent to the group. Simple, right? Yet in Google’s version, the basic functions often don’t work. Problems with joining the group, problems with dropped messages. Sure, any system has glitches, but I see a lot more of these problems on Google than on Yahoo, despite the fact I’ve at times been responsible for a lot more users on Yahoo than Google — like an order of magnitude more.
In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, but Google Groups just plain kind of suck. Yahoo has the better product.
I’ve heard it said that “Google gets all the attention, but Yahoo makes all the money.” I don’t know if this is an example of that, but it certainly goes to show those whiz kids at Google aren’t infallible.