Yahoo redesign rollback concedes Tabs; user emails still missing

The relationship between Yahoo and its Mail users feels like a sickeningly protracted cycle of abuse, but this week it conceded and gave Tabs back to users -- but anyone missing emails is still out in the cold.
Written by Violet Blue, Contributor

In an unprecedented redesign rollback, Yahoo is slowly restoring Tabs to its Mail users.

It's great news for the hundred-thousand-plus Mail users who found the service unusable after its Gmail-clone redesign on October 8.

However, the users who've lost email since the fateful redesign's implementation may be out of luck for the foreseeable future.

The rollback of Tabs removal began with Yahoo's announcement this Thursday in a bizarre Buzzfeed-style, flashing animated .gif Tumblr post from Yahoo Mail's lead Jeff Bonforte.

Bonforte's post managed to avoid acknowledging that the move validated widespread declarations that the October 8 redesign — Yahoo Mail's second redesign within a year — was a UI, UX, and technical disaster.

The redesign was former Googler and current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to force Mail users into using a Gmail imitation — a design implementation that was met with a remarkable amount of opposition and rejection from Yahoo's typically complacent, longtime, locked-in user base.

Last week, Mail's head honcho Bonforte told employees in a closed meeting that users would have to be kicked in the balls to leave the service.

Within a few days, a headline-making service outage drew attention to users' lost emails (some since the October 8 redesign), which had Bonforte singing a more contrite tune to the public on Twitter and in Yahoo's embarrassing blog post.

The outage and its critical press returns, has been the only event to bring Mayer anywhere near the Mail mess. She eventually apologized for the loss of service, acknowledging little else by way of specifics.

In point of fact, the Yahoo Tumblr post from Bonforte only acknowledged the outage days after an untold number of Yahoo Mail's alleged 280 million users were unable to log in and experienced "lost" and non-delivery of email - some dating from before November 25.

On December 16, Yahoo posted to its Help updates:

+ Update 12/16/13 9:00 pm PST

 We’ve restored access for users and continue to make progress on recovering email messages, folders and inboxes for those users who are still missing messages in their inbox.

As the engineering team continues the restoration process, we wanted to give a couple answers to the top questions we’re seeing:
Q:  “I’m missing emails in my inbox from certain dates, but can see everything else.”

A:  There are three periods of time at question when it comes to message restoration. Message restoration for each period can follow a different timeline.

  • Emails from Dec. 9 - now: 100 percent of emails during this time period have been delivered
  • Emails from Nov. 25 - Dec 9, 2013: 75 percent of emails from this period have been restored
  • Emails prior to Nov. 25: 90 percent of emails from this period have been restored

When asked for an update on these percentages, Yahoo said that specific percentage updates were not available and "we are making steady progress on restoring affected users' mailboxes."

This has been Yahoo's only admission of lost emails.

The tragic clincher here is that rollback of one key function has taken two months, during which companies such as Twitter implemented, then reverted unliked user experiences changes within 24 hours of user dissatisfaction and outcry.

If the hundred thousand or so users who voted - and more who commented - to fix the Tabs issue find out they can turn Tabs back on, maybe they'll feel better about watching their Tabs issue submissions suddenly closed and marked as "COMPLETED" without explanation a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the more egregious issue of lost communication is omitted from every tech outlet's Pollyanna-inspired regurgitation of Yahoo's press push about Tabs this week.

The madness of Yahoo's pathos to reach a stakeholder-appeasing summit may be so subsuming to the originators and handmaidens of its critical failures that it may actually beat Google and Facebook in their appalling race to absolute inhuman detachment as deemed a necessary cost to product saturation.


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