Quick and dirty on Yahoo! Mash

Yahoo! MashI won’t call it slick, cool, rockin’, or use the phrase “best evah.” Yahoo! Mash is a work in progress, but do have to give the company credit for putting together a beta project that doesn’t actually require a lot of thought to use. I’ve fumbled around MySpace and Facebook, trying to read others’ reviews, tips, and hints, then trying to replicate them myself. Rare is the occasion where I actually get it right on the first attempt. Not so with Yahoo! Mash.

I received an invite last night around 10pm, and while I didn’t really need the distractions the thing was so easy to use that I’d created a page and pumped out a few invites of my own before 11. No gory details, but I liked…

  • The drag-n-drop-ability across the page. With the exception of the top block, you can moved anything around the content section as well as between it and the sidebar. Good job letting people put stuff where THEY want to put it.
  • Simple privacy. You can allow (or block) anyone’s visibility for your page, and Yahoo! has given you the opportunity to classify friends into a couple of categories for editing permissions. I can see the need to set a custom friends category, and a feature like that could prove even more useful if you could spawn a group page from the item.
  • Simple URL configuration. They’ve provided you an option to mark your page as mash.yahoo.com/YourName. Nice. Note: Facebook needed a third party app for this.
  • CSS editing. With the complexity of the design here, you know I wanted that! But, I saw it as a useful feature that is going to pull a lot of the “artists” from MySpace over. In addition, you can work off of your friends’ styles (although I doubt anyone in their right mind would copy mine).
  • Flickr plugin. Yahoo! would have been brain dead not to include this on day one. Now, they should hook it to the Yahoo! username instead of making you go grab your own Flickr RSS feed.
  • Last but not least – the invite system. It’s based on sending a pre-formed profile to friends who are not yet participating. Saves a lot of work for those who don’t need a lot of work, and I suspect that between that and the fact that everyone and their mother has a Yahoo! account, this thing is going to grow very fast.

Ok, so it’s a lame review, but that’s all I have time for. The Mash is beta, and invite only, but there is no need to gape at screenshots thinking it’s some ultra-exclusive club. You can pick up an invite from TechCrunch’s Invite Share or Mashable Invites (although I found the latter a bit easier to use). Or, skip that and comment below, leaving your email address (in the appropriate field only). When I approve the comment, you’ll know I sent you an invite. I’m limiting the number to 25 or so (+- as time permits).

This latest from Yahoo! has legs. The entrance of third-party developers to the game is going to make the large-venue social networking battle a lot of fun to watch.

UPDATE: Noted – Sean Aune thinks Yahoo! Mash is the “poor man’s Facebook. I’ll agree, to an extent, that the Yahoo! offering smells somewhat Facebooky. But it’s still cooking, and I wonder if that was the intended receipe (with a healthy sprinkling of ease of use).

UPDATE 2: “Friends” systems are always a pain with social networking systems. Mash opted for simple, which is great, but it could use a little tweaking. In particular, make it easier to change the category you put a friend in, and provide a default category setting for all “new friends.”

Comments

Mike makes a good point – Mash IS still defining itself, it is still under construction, and what is working well works in a simple and straightforward way. All of that having been said, I can’t picture myself using it much in the future.

What killed my enthusiasm was the Mash team’s response to one particular incident. The feed from my primary blog at Blogger wasn’t feeding at all. I wrote about this repeatedly on Mr.Aldrich’s profile, until I succeeded in getting his attention and was finally given a contact address. Contacting the man in charge directly may sound like a recipe for frustration and it was, BUT there was no other easily visible means of contacting the team. Going to “help” just brought up a menu of documents, which aren’t going to be of help when the problem is a maintenance issue on the provider’s end.

I sent an e-mail to the address provided, and what I got back didn’t build confidence in the product: an e-mail that turned out to be intended for somebody’s supervisor, instead of me, in which the employee stated that she had no understanding of the blog module. Fair enough, though seeing that note with no other explanation, addressed to me, was a little mind blowing. That, by itself, would have merely made me do a double take and then laugh a little, but I never heard back from anybody else on the team, and that’s where “that’s funny” turns into “really not a good sign”. When a problem is assigned to an employee who hasn’t the background needed to handle it, it doesn’t get reassigned, it simply vanishes into Limbo.

Nobody knows how to do everything in any field, and if management is just going to stubbornly refuse to reassign projects under these circumstances, or somehow fail to support employees when they periodically find themselves in over their heads, then a lot is going to break down and never get fixed. This is a sign of headaches to come.

jeff forbes says:

So yahoo decided to junk one beta experiment for another,go figure!! If the fools from yahoo would just finalize 360 it would work just fine.the user interface is simple and straight forward,you don’t have to be a brain trust to figure things out.

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