Today is the beginning of the end for the neighborhood’s Yahoo Groups.
The list servs have become a consistent source of neighborhood information and communication, a way to seek advice on how to navigate District systems or to find out why a crowd to gathered at the end of the block. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) used Yahoo Groups for the District list servs, publishing crime alerts and reports daily for residents of the eight Police District.
As of today, Oct 28, users and administrators can no longer upload content to any of the Yahoo email community groups such as files or photos, although communication via email is still possible. All existing content, including files, calendars, polls, databases, photos and archives, will be deleted by December 14.
The Hill is home to two of the larger list servs in use in the District, Moms on The Hill (MoTH) and New Hill East (over in Northwest, Cleveland Park Yahoo Group membership was 18,474). MoTH was founded in 2001 and has more than 8300, a number that is increasing weekly according to administrators; New Hill East currently has 4806 members, but peaked around 2015 at about 5500.
MPD announced they would transition to Google Groups. Those who want to receive notifications from the list should first join Google Groups (a gmail account is not necessary), then go to the relevant MPD District Group (most of the Hill is in the First and Fifth Districts) and click ‘join group’.
Both MoTH and New Hill East have decided to make the switch to groups.io, transferring members, archives and content automatically. Those changes are in effect today, after a huge effort from administrators who were given less than two weeks’ notice of the changes. Once the transfer is completed, say admins, users of these lists will receive a message to the email addresses they used to join the list serv.
‘A Life of Their Own’
New Hill East moderator Gretchen Mikeska said that the end of Yahoo Groups has been really disruptive, requiring a great deal of time and work hours from herself and volunteers to transition to a different platform.
The lists have been in use for more than fifteen years now. Begun as a mailing list by Jim Meyers Mikeska helped her neighbor create a Yahoo Group in 2003 to better manage communication, inadvertently became an administrator in the process.
Over the years, New Hill East has helped people debate daily issues (famously including such matters as backyard chickens “are those fireworks or gunshots?’ and ‘don’t put your pet waste in my garbage bin’), but a note posted to the list serv about the odd behavior of two men spotted by an MPD officer also helped capture a prisoner who broke out of the DC Jail, she said.
“Some of these issues are serious and some are not. It’s sort of funny that they take on a life of their own.”
While many people now communicate with neighbors through specifically-designed social platforms such as Nextdoor, Mikeska said that she expects the forum to lose some membership. However, she said that the list serv serves a critical need for many residents who are comfortable with the email format and don’t want anything to do with Google or Facebook (the Hill East Facebook group is not related to the Yahoo Group).
“There are people who like this format, and for those neighbors we will move it,” she said.
Learn more about the changes to Yahoo Groups by visiting Yahoo Groups Help.