Yahoo is releasing abandoned email addresses back into the pool and allowing people to reclaim popular names that have been hoarded for so long. If you have a Yahoo ID and haven’t logged-on in more than 12 months, it will be closed down today.
Yahoo made the announcement in June in an attempt to help users get their affairs in order, or at least log in for the first time in a year. For those who have yet to sign on, the account will be terminated today. The logic behind returning unused addresses back to the pool is to give new users an opportunity to choose the email addresses they want without having to add numbers. Mark Jones wants MarkJones@yahoo.com, not MarkJones7.
In mid-July, anyone can have a shot at scoring the Yahoo! ID they want. In mid-August, users who staked a claim on certain IDs can come to Yahoo! to discover which one they got.
However, this move seems to only benefit Yahoo. It wants to attract new users that are willing to go through the whole transition process from one email address to another just to claim a name without numbers at the end. They want to clear out people who treat Yahoo like a back-up account and attract people who will use it primarily.
There are many reasons why people claim accounts that they don’t use. First, there’s reputation management. Matt Jones might claim MattJones@gmail, @hotmail, and @yahoo, to keep people from impersonating him. Some people treat emails like domains. When the domain .xxx was released into the world, universities bought up their school’s names (like uf.xxx, universityofflorida.xxx) to keep people from creating porn related to their brand. The same can be applied to emails.
Other than reputation management, people also create email addresses for the sole purpose of receiving promotional email. When a site demands that they create an account, they’ll use that email so they don’t receive their updates. It’s meant to be a throw away email. They could also keep a Yahoo ID on the side as a back-up address. If they get logged out of Gmail they could send the password reset to the Yahoo account. Back up emails provide extra security.
Furthermore, this could also affect what mail gets delivered to you. I haven’t logged into my university email since I graduated, but still forward any mail sent to that account to my current one. Users who have left their Yahoo IDs but still forward on mail will stop receiving emails as the messages bounce.
Shawn Collins of FeedFront pointed out that this could negatively affect the email lists of marketers. Newsletters will either be sent to dead addresses that bounce back or get sent to complete strangers that claim the names. The first MarkJones@yahoo might have been a social media manager that loved your newsletter, but the new MarkJones@yahoo could be a marine biologist.
The next few times you send out a newsletter, check to see if there’s an uptick in the number of emails that bounce back. Purge your list of names that are undeliverable, especially if they have a Yahoo address connected to them. Yes, your number of subscribers will go down, but you won’t generate leads if the only people getting your content are robots and spammers.
Will you survive the Yahoo Email Purge of 2013?