Sunday, November 6, 2005

Yahoo Alpha Geek Statue

Surfing the web as I often do, I stumbled on this blog entry about a statue Yahoo put up to to recognize the Yahoo Alpha Mail Team. There were two points that I took from the entry. One, the "killer dog-eat-dog" mentality of corporate competition and how far of that mentality has Yahoo adopted. Two, how appropriate is the statue and the wording of the statue.

I'm not prepared to comment on the first point. It's a complex issue with different parties all having their own interpretations of what's right and wrong. I would like to clarify the second point.

To clarify some misconceptions, the statue isn't a public statue. It was an (as far as I know) internal award to recognize the work of the Yahoo Alpha Mail team. A lot of people seems to interpret it as some public PR annoucement by Yahoo when it was just an individual who posted a picture he took while walking through one of the buildings at Yahoo.

Secondly, the blog states that it compares Google to the Nazi, I do think that might be a stretch. I guess the analogy could've been better by whoever wrote it, but the main reason probably was less to say Google is evil as much as they tried to pick a respected group of engineers to compare the mail team to. I didn't find the language to be as harsh as the blog entry itself. The harshest language used was "kicking an enemy's ass", but when put in context everything is really meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
The Yahoo! Mail Team's bravery, courage, and cumulative intelligence will not soon be forgotten. (At least not until the next version of Yahoo! Mail is released.)

Obviously this statement isn't meant to be taken seriously. It's meant to sound a little melodramatic, "Your courage won't be forgotten!!! At least not until tomorrow's breakfast if they serve sausages..."

I found the language of the article and the comments to be harsher then what was written on the statue. The comments included words and phrases such as "desperately clawing", "sodomize", and "duning it out over the customers". The tone of these is exactly what the blogger didn't like about how he interpreted Yahoo's tone.

Finally, just to be clear, the reward is an internal award toward the next version of Y!Mail and not what users are currently using so a lot of commentors are talking about how they don't see anything good but they're not even looking at the right thing.

I can understand where the writer is coming from, though, and I'm writing mainly to clarify the misconceptions. Competition is healthy and it is important. I believe that both Google and Yahoo strive to be good corporate citizens and without one pushing the other, we wouldn't be advancing nearly as fast.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the thoughtfully-written article. I agree with a lot of your points, even when they criticize those in my own entry. Specifically, the Nazi argument was actually more tongue-in-cheek than anything else, as is almost always the case when invoking Godwin's Law. The main thrust of the piece was intended to be the changing nature of Yahoo's inspiration and motivation, shifting from a 'do better for the customer' to 'defeat your competition'.

    I specifically made no mention of whether I believed Yahoo Mail's new Oddpost version to be better or worse than Gmail. As a Gmail engineer my views would probably receive little merit since they would be presumed to be biased.

    It's unfortunate that so many of the comments were instead about how good or bad each of the email products were. That was never the point...