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March 31, 2005

Yahoo! Launching New Search Index Tonight

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch had asked search engines to provide an algorithm "weather report" in his keynote address at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose last August. We think it's a good idea too. It is important to have a dialog with publishers who rely on our product to send them visitors and that these content providers provide us with valuable feedback on our search products.

So consider this our first weather report. We're releasing a new index tonight. You should see a lot of new content in the index as well as fluctuations in the rankings of results from previous searches. If you have any feedback for us about the new index please email: ystfeedback@yahoo.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Tim Mayer
Yahoo! Search

P.S. No, this is not an April Fool's joke. Really.

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New Y!Q Features for Publishers and Developers

Since we launched Y!Q several weeks ago, we've heard a lot of questions and interesting suggestions. Since then we've revamped the Y!Q site and beefed up the Y!Q FAQ quite a bit. Many of you asked us if we could add a new feature or two. So we sifted through the requests and have implemented several of them. You can now use all of them in Y!Q deployments on your own web site.

Briefly, they are:

  1. Default search. You can supply a "p" parameter that supplies a specific query for the initial Y!Q click in addition to the context.
  2. Site context. It's now possible to supply additional context (a few words, a description, a sentence) behind the scenes. This context isn't readily visible to the user but may help refine results even more.
  3. Module order customization. You have control over the order in which modules appear in the Y!Q overlay. If you'd rather have the search box at the bottom, simply provide a "source order" parameter.
  4. Static content insertion. Y!Q has a mechanism for providing content (text or HTML) that you'd like inserted into the overlay. This could be a message to your users, a branding logo, etc. In addition, you can use CSS to style it in any way you like.

Full details are availale in the Y!Q publisher documentation.

In addition to the overlay, there's a new Y!Q DemoBar. Many of you wanted to customize the appearance of the Demobar. The updated version now has a "mini-mode" that is very space efficient and is fully customizable, but still allows you to quickly capture text and Y!Q it.

Finally, if you're intrigued by the idea of adding contextual search to an application, check our the Contextual Search API available on YSDN.

Volunteers Needed

We have some interesting new features availabe for the next Y!Q release. If you're the adventurous type and would like to help test them on your web site, please leave a comment with your e-mail address or send me email.

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Search

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March 28, 2005

Yahoo! 360° - A New Model for Online Sharing

In the "About Me" part of my Yahoo! 360° page I describe myself as "a husband, a father, game player, and a pioneer of virtual worlds. For more than 30 years, I've been connecting people with each other using computers as the mediating technology..." Along the way, I've been sharing my experiences with family, friends, and colleagues. Now, I get to tell you about Yahoo! 360° -- a new model for online sharing that's easy and convenient for everybody.

During my years of online community building, I've seen many types of social software emerge: email, chat, instant messaging, forums, groups, multiplayer games, blogs, and twikis (to name a few).

Until now, most social software worked on a shared view, what I'd call a we-centric model, where every participant sees the same information as all the other participants. We all see the same posts on a message board, the same conversation in a chat room. In effect, communications are either public or private.

These days, as we publicly post more of our opinions, photos, and sensitive information on the net, there's growing concern about spam and other threats to our privacy. And there's a need for tools to help us manage real-world relationships that are becoming more and more digital. The time is right for me-centric community - a way for you to get the information and connections you want, without giving up control of your information. Yahoo! 360° lets you control not just what you see but what others can see about you.

For example, I have different types of relationships -- friends, family, coworkers, IM buddies, mailing-list co-members, blog subscribers, etc. I want to share some of my info with some of these people, and some of it with others. Some stuff may not be appropriate or of interest to everybody.

On Yahoo! 360°, you can keep it simple and use the same settings for all your contacts, or you can decide how others experience you by grouping the people you know into me-centric communities (called categories). You set how different groups of people can contact you (via IM, email, blog comment, etc.), and you decide who can see your reviews, photos, and other personal stuff.

I've created categories for work (360° Team, Management) and personal use (Family, Gamers, Alumni) -- it's easy for me to move people around, or add them to multiple categories. The categories are invisible to everyone but me. For example, my family can see my personal contact info and photos, and my manager can check in and comment on my blog. :-)

We're extending the me-centric approach by integrating your Yahoo! 360° identity controls with other Yahoo! services. For example, you can choose to display your Yahoo! 360° nickname and photo in your Groups. When you search on Yahoo! Local, the businesses with reviews written by your friends show up prominently.

The Yahoo! 360° team is excited about the official invitation-only beta starting today. Please sign up to be on our beta waiting list. We'll let you know when we open the beta to a larger audience.

Randy Farmer
Yahoo! Community Products Team

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March 23, 2005

Larry Lessig on Searching Creative Commons

From time to time we've invited guest bloggers to write on the Yahoo! Search blog. Today we have a post from Larry Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and well known expert on intellectual property law in the digital world.

Larry also chairs the Creative Commons project. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright protections for creative works. Today we've launched a Yahoo! Search for Creative Commons at search.yahoo.com/cc which complements their existing search. The goal is to make it easier to locate Creative Commons licensed content anywhere on the Web. So you can now look specifically for works that you can modify, adapt, build upon, or even reuse for commercial purposes--right on Yahoo! Search. (It's also available via our Web Search API, as noted on the YSDN blog.)

So we asked Larry if he could spare a few minutes of his busy schedule to talk about the launch and the growth of the Creative Commons.

I'm just about to get on a plane to return from South Korea, where CC-Korea just launched. This is about the tenth such launch I've seen, and each has been more amazing than the last. Korea is a frantically focused net culture, with the biggest penetration of broadband of any country in the world. It was also the first country where the Internet really mattered to the election of a president (in 2002, mobile phones and internet chat are widely considered to have been responsible for a last minute surge in youth vote, leading to the president's election).

At the end of our final celebratory dinner, one of the judges who had helped launch CC-Korea asked me, "so what will make CC in the world as successful as CC-Korea?" And I recognized, for the first time, that this project that we started two and a half years ago had finally left home. I was no longer asking others to help; others were demanding from me a success to match their own.

This launch by Yahoo! today is a down-payment on the Korean judge's demand. Yahoo! has defined itself as the thin layer of the net that will make the net's community come alive. It's first life made the net findable. Its second life made the net useable. Now Yahoo! will give the net tools to make its community come alive. The mix of extensions announced this past week to an already fantastic base will transform the Yahoo! community into the most exciting mix on the net. I am extremely happy that our work can help make this commons grow.

It is hard to beat the excitement of these local CC-launches. But the launch today does it. Creative Commons will be just a piece -- a component -- designed to remove the uncertainty around what creators mean. Yahoo! will gather this creativity into a community. Our component helps people be clear about the freedoms they intend to give, and the freedoms they can rely upon.

As weird as this may sound -- I am extremely excited to be a component, a plug-in, that will make it easy for the community of creativity that Yahoo! has committed itself to to take off. It will be the most important step in our project's success. It is proof of the kind of success Yahoo! will continue to be.

Larry Lessig

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March 22, 2005

New Yahoo! Desktop Search Beta Goes Beyond the Desktop

When we last wrote about Yahoo! Desktop Search, we mentioned that we wanted to change the idea of what searching your "desktop" means. The latest beta release of Yahoo! Desktop Search continues to deliver on that vision by allowing you to search your online world from your PC.

Have you ever tried to find an IM conversation from within your Yahoo Messenger archive? If you're a big Messenger user like I am, this can be pretty difficult when you have a large number of IM conversations to dig through. Enter the new YDS Beta, which can find Yahoo! Messenger IM conversations as fast as it currently finds emails, files, and contacts. Another bonus? YDS will even let you search your archives even while you're offline - a big plus when you're on a plane or your internet connection takes a siesta.

Want more? We've also added Yahoo! Address Book contacts to the YDS index, so you can search all of your Outlook and Yahoo! contacts in one convenient place. Like the Messenger integration, your contacts will be searchable both online and off, so you can whip out your laptop on the road and still grab the phone number of an important client.

This is all just the beginning. Our goal is to make the word desktop in "Yahoo! Desktop Search" refer simply to the place where you launch the product. I hope you're as excited as we are about the possibilities.

Please download the latest YDS Beta and give us your thoughts about the new Yahoo! integration points, as well as your suggestions on how to improve the product. As always, we welcome your feedback, and encourage you to post on our message board as well as on our feedback form.

Warren Wan
Product Manager, Yahoo! Desktop Search

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March 21, 2005

My Friend Flickr, Welcome to Yahoo!

My heart jumped with excitement today when I logged on and saw the news. Like other Flickr people, I'd been reading the rumors: Yahoo! might buy Flickr. As a longtime Yahoo, the possibility absolutely thrilled me. Again, we would show the Web that Yahoo! had got its groove back. I watched and waited hopefully.

You see, for the last few months I've been immersed in Flickr--addicted to never-ending discovery, wandering through a landscape of marvelous images from people all over the world. I was weaving my own photographic narrative into the collective tapestry, making contact with folks like me, who also take pictures of rust, rocks, leaves, watery reflections, window scenes.

On Flickr, a pattern language is evolving for visual conversations that are information-rich and unencumbered by barriers of time or space, age or language. I'm certainly not the first person to notice something out of the ordinary. Flickr creates new modes of community and inspires playful innovation, cool extensions, new application software, and ardent devotion. Wow!

The Flickr community has built an ecosystem, a meme pool of images. Flickr APIs are open and also beautiful, as Nate Koechley (another Yahoo) reminds us. Hosting millions of images from hundreds of thousands of users, the Flickr community develops and shares tools and collaborations that generate new utility, original art, inventive information remixes, and ever more user engagement.

By letting Flickr stay Flickr, this unique community can continue to flourish and feed invention across Yahoo! and the Web. Flickr can make us smarter, and help us grow and cultivate a garden of collaborative, user-driven web services. I sense the start of a beautiful friendship, as long as we never forget the incredible lightness that makes Flickr so easy to love.

Havi Hoffman
Yahoo! Editorial

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March 15, 2005

Play the Tech Buzz Game from Yahoo! Research Labs and O’Reilly Media

Today we're announcing the launch of the Tech Buzz Game, a fantasy prediction market for high-tech products, concepts and trends. Your goal is to predict how popular various technologies will be in the future. Popularity or buzz is measured by Yahoo! Search frequency over time. Predictions are made by buying stock in the products or technologies you believe will succeed, and selling stock in the technologies you think will flop. In other words, you "put your fantasy dollars where your mouth is."

You’ve heard of the Hollywood Stock Exchange or the Iowa Electronic Markets, right? If so, you’ll feel right at home with our Tech Buzz Game. You may get to win cool prizes (see the complete rules) too if your instincts are keen and your trading strategies sharp.

The game runs between March 15, 2005 and July 29, 2005 so why wait? Register and start trading today!

Bernard Mangold
Yahoo! Research Labs

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March 11, 2005

Yahoo! Toolbar Gets to Know RSS

Yahoo! Toolbar for IE (v5.6) now detects RSS/Atom feeds just like its toolbar sibling for Mozilla Firefox.

The toolbar uses RSS Autodiscovery to detect feeds. To make sure feeds on your web site are detected, just add the following to the <head> of your web pages:

<LINK type="application/rss+xml" rel="alternate" title="FEED TITLE" href="FEEDURL">

And when we say FEED TITLE we mean the name of your site PLUS the specific area of your site (e.g. Engadget: Gaming). When a user clicks the button it will say something like "Subscribe to Engadet: Gaming."

Get To Know Your Toolbar
Here are some other power user features that are useful for many folks:

  • Drag and drop any text on the page into the toolbar search box to search the web.
  • Press Alt-S to instantly put the cursor focus into the toolbar search box.
  • Right-click any toolbar button or menu item to open its destination in a new window.
  • Use Search This Site button to get results only for the current web site. See Toolbar Options


    Duke Fan
    Yahoo! Toolbar Product Manager

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  • March 10, 2005

    My Yahoo! Mobile RSS

    Since I'm the resident "mobile blogger guy" here at Yahoo!, I got asked if I'd do a quick write up on the Search blog about a new My Yahoo! mobile launch you might find interesting. My pleasure!

    In case you've ever used Yahoo!'s mobile portal and wondered where your My Yahoo! page is, we've got great news. We've just launched a new addition to Yahoo! Mobile which allow you to read the RSS news feeds that you've subscribed to in your My Yahoo! page from your mobile phone's minibrowser.

    Check it out: http://mobile.yahoo.com

    To see your My Yahoo! subscriptions, enter the above URL in your phone's WAP 2.0 minibrowser and navigate down to the News link. From there click on My Headlines, log in with your Yahoo! ID and all the RSS headlines that you've added to your My Yahoo! page are listed, ready to be read on the go. Clicking on the individual feed links will let you read a summary of the stories (about 1024 characters, which is actually more than appears on the My Yahoo! Web version) and if you've got a phone which has a browser that supports full HTML web pages, each of the headlines will be live links to the original article. Simple and easy.

    The key to this new service is accessibility. What we wanted to do is get a mobile version of My Yahoo! out there that works on millions of phones, right this second. No installation required and you don't need a smart phone, third-party browser or a custom Java client to use it. RSS feeds on a mobile phone is a no brainer, and using the phone's built in minibrowser is really the best way to deliver them. If you've got a late-model phone, you can check out your feeds right now with a minimum of fuss (and teach your Mom to do it too).

    For the mobile power users out there who want both more control over their feeds and longer summaries (or even full posts), we hear you. This launch is just the tip of the iceberg of what we're planning. Our ultimate goal is to make keeping up your feeds on your mobile device as useful and as easy as it is on the desktop. We're starting simple, but thinking big. (When it comes to mobile, there's no other way to think!)

    Even if you use another aggregator for your news (like myself), there's so many times when you want quick access to important news items and don't want to slog through hundreds of headlines on your mobile phone to get to them. I've got over 300 feeds I'm monitoring right this second, but not all of them are needed when I'm on the go. So what I'm doing right now is going through my news feeds of my primary aggregator and picking out some of the important ones that I'd like to be able to quickly access when I'm moving, and adding them to My Yahoo!. Using my phone's bookmark feature, I can get to my mobile RSS page within 15-30 seconds and be browsing the most important news items right away, quickly and easily. Suddenly someone like myself who hasn't used My Yahoo! as much as he could, has a great reason to keep it stocked with great feeds.

    We'd love to hear how you're using your My Yahoo! Mobile RSS and hear about your favorite feeds to have while on the go. Leave a comment below with your favorite links.

    Russell Beattie
    Mobile Yahoo!

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    March 09, 2005

    Searching For Travel Deals

    As you may recall, last September we began beta testing our new travel search engine, Yahoo! FareChase. We've received a ton of feedback since then and wanted to let you know we rolled out some additional upgrades including:

    *Extended support for multiple browsers (including Firefox, Safari & Netscape)

    *More tools to refine your search results by number of stops, flight times, airlines and nearby airports

    *Ability to sort search results by price and departure times

    We recently added FareChase to Yahoo! Next -- either jump on the message boards there or comment on this blog...we'd love you know what you think.

    Jim Yang
    Director of Product Management

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    March 02, 2005

    10 Years That Rocked The World

    Yahoo! incorporated in 1995, the year I discovered the World Wide Web. That year, I made a decision that changed my life: I dared myself to use the Web to find a job on the Internet. I was a natural-born information junkie who could read, write, edit, and catalog--and fearlessly follow hyperlinks wherever they might lead.

    I bought a fast Pentium running shiny new Windows 95. I got ISDN. I downloaded each new beta browser. In early 1996, I was hired to build a directory of web sites for one of Yahoo!'s now vanished competitors. I stepped into the fast-moving current, riding wave after wave of discovery, gathering a daily catch of tools and trinkets: image maps, javascripts, dancing widgets, canonical lists of nearly everything. I was getting paid to websurf!

    In those days, we studied Yahoo! to see how directory was done. I walked the tree, and pondered colon classification and what it meant that Ranganathan was a Yahoo!. Web search scaled and evolved quickly to colonize the new info landscape, but the algorithms were young, and results were erratic and sometimes surprisingly irrelevant.

    Yahoo! hired me on my third try, in 1998. The Web seemed vast, but finite. We still believed there was an end of the Internet. Then, as now, the Yahoo! Directory exemplified the value of informed human intervention, aggregating and organizing the best of the Web, creating choice out of chaos. And Yahoo! was fast, free, and fun, with invisible, reliable, leading-edge technology.

    Over the past seven years, it's been a privilege to participate as Yahoo! and the Web grew up together. Through the tumultuous boom and bust years, search technology thrived. Yahoo! enjoyed a succession of relationships with great search providers. Then, more recently, we reinvented ourselves and launched Yahoo! Search Technology.

    These days, search engine is a household word. The power of search has captured the public imagination and become essential in the lives of millions. And though we're continually innovating, we've just begun to explore the multi-faceted, multimedia knowledge exchange that becomes possible when search technologies mature and get smarter. Stay tuned.

    And now it's time to celebrate. You're invited to Yahoo!'s 10th birthday party. There's even a present waiting for you there. Feeling nostalgic? Don't miss our amazing, entertaining web installation, Netrospective: 10 years, 100 moments of the Web. We'd love to hear from you.

    Havi Hoffman
    Yahoo! Editorial

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