RIP, Yahoo! Directory

It’s a sad day for those who grew up using Yahoo! as their primary search engine rather than Google. Nearly 20 years ago, Yahoo! came into search engine land and changed the way users explored the web. It first began as a ‘directory’, through a hand-compiled list of websites organized into different topics such as News, Events, Government, Health etc.

Yahoo!, which stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”, was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo in hopes of making search results more accessible to users by organizing them in a hierarchical order. A directory relies on humans to review websites, and then organize them into categories. In 1998, Google was introduced and quickly became the superior search engine, providing more relevant search queries due to automatic results over human effort. With Yahoo!, it was as if you were searching for a book in a library using an old-fashioned card catalog system, when all you knew about a book was 25 words or so describing it.

The reason why Yahoo! Directory has now burned out is because 20 years ago there were hardly any pages on the web, so summarizing the page and then consolidating the page into the directory was a fairly simple task for a human. These days, there are more pages on the internet than there are humans to physically place them into directories, resulting in Yahoo! Directory’s inevitable demise.

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