Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

Yahoo! Signup

I found myself wanting to create a flickr account today. This involved signing up for a Yahoo (sorry, Yahoo!) account. While not the most painful signup procedure I’ve encountered, I have a cold and it’s making me grumpy, and for a Big Company like Yahoo, I expect better, so they can be the target of today’s mini rant (I say that like they’re limited to once per day).

So I need to create my “Yahoo! ID and Email”, which seems to be username@ one of, or

I do not want an email address thank you very much. I have plenty. I certainly don’t want one at some random domain about which I know nothing, but is presumably some historical acquisition that they are exposing for legacy reasons, the details of which I could care more about. I was about to delete that last sentence as it was pure unfounded conjecture, but it turns out it’s basically correct. Oh well, I’ll get over this.

I need to give them a postal code. Gosh. Are they going to send me nice shiny things? Are wise men going to turn up at my door bearing gifts? What’s that? No? Then go away.

Alternate email, ok, good good. Apparently it can’t be though. Nor can it be yahoosucks@ or yahoosignupsucks@ – I thus guess anything containing “yahoo”. This is somewhat tedious, given that that’s my usual addressing strategy.

Now apparently two secret questions. Not just one, and they also have to be unique (not unreasonable given the premise, to be fair). They do at least allow me to provide my own secret question – not that that’s especially relevant, as I treat the answer as a secondary password that will alas inevitably be stored as plaintext. Still, as others have pointed out, the concept of the secret question is somewhat poor, and requiring me to generate a pseudopassword twice just adds an extra level of irritation.

I won’t get into the subject of why “First name” and “Last name” fields are bad (if you’re inclined to dismiss Wookey as an oddity, then consider the rest of the world). I’ll skip over the issue of binary gender, or even requiring gender information. Don’t get me wrong, I think those areas should be addressed too, but (alas) most other places don’t do well in those regards either, and that’s not the main target of this rant highly reasoned and informed discourse (ahem).

Now, to be fair, this isn’t the worst form I’ve encountered. No completely idiotic password requirements, after all. Seriously though, isn’t this a fairly solved problem? Go copy Google or something?

(Addendum: The post-signup process was mildly tedious too, but alas I clicked through these swiftly in frustration before realising I should probably take screenshots / notes for writeup, so either go endure the process yourself or take my word for it being annoying)

(Second Addendum: To follow this up, as I headed further through the flickr account creation process, I got to “Personalize your profile”, which, as a testament to the flickr / Yahoo! integration, asked for First Name, Last Name, Timezone, Gender, “Singleness” (Relationship status) and “Describe Yourself”. “Singleness” and Gender both had “Rather not say”, with Gender also having “Other”; all of this information was optional, but, “Singleness” aside, seemed sensible and reasonable to ask me to provide.

So, integration issues aside (though to be fair, as this was optional information, there’s a reasonable argument to be made for requiring it for account creation, but starting with a blank public profile) the flickr stage seemed substantially better, though profile creation is perhaps the apple to account creation’s orange.)