Robert Rufa: I can’t take Yahoo! seriously

I’m old enough to remember when the word “Yahoo!” occasionally appeared in a comic strip speech balloon. Sometime during the 1990s I began associating it with a free email provider (although at the time I didn’t get what Yahoo! could possibly have to do with email). And for years after that I never thought of it as much more.

But today Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational Internet corporation — according to Wikipedia anyway. Also according to Wikipedia, Yahoo is actually an acronym, which comes as a surprise because I never thought Yahoo was an acronym. I thought it was just Yahoo, you know? At some point, apparently, Yahoo’s founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, thought the original name, “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” wasn’t catchy enough. Of course they were wouldn’t — it was lame, and JGWWW would put a hyperactive child in a coma.

So they sequestered themselves in trailer for a brainstorming session, and after finishing off about 12 bags of Cheetos and a case of Cheerwine (I’m guessing here — it could have been Fritos and Dr. Pepper) came up with Yahoo — which as everyone knows stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” I’m not kidding. That is what Yahoo stands for. If the world could roll its eyes, it would.

Today Yahoo! the American multinational Internet corporation, wants to be taken seriously as a source of news and entertainment. Since it sorta became my co-ISP, or Internet Service Provider (pronounced ISP) by merging with AT&T, which had previously merged with BellSouth (in a process called “putting Ma Bell back together again,” but that’s another story), my home page is cluttered with Yahoo this and Yahoo that.

There are useless videos all over the place — features about celebrities, cars, recipes. And the ads! All this does nothing but hog my computer’s precious resources.

In October 2013, Yahoo scored a coup when it hired long-time New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, and not long after that it landed celebrity journalist Katie Couric as (wait for it) “global anchor.” I’m happy for Katie that she landed what must be a plum gig, but I hope she can keep from giggling whenever she stands up at a press conference and says, “Katie Couric, Yahoo News.”

What I wonder is, do any of them — Katie, David, Jerry, David — even know what Yahoo really means? Well according to every dictionary I consulted, it’s a “rude or brutish person — synonymous with redneck, oaf.”

Ye-haw. Makes it hard to take anything under the nameplate “Yahoo! News” seriously.