Yahoo! Requires a Dancing Pony to Open a New Account, but I Don’t Have a Dancing Pony
Isolated and Doomed this famous tree was cut down in February ( I photographed it in 2007 from the public road) From the same outing that produced “ More Biei Countryside ” among others. -- Biei, Hokkaido, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 51mm — 1/1600 sec, f/4.5, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Isolated and Doomed
this famous tree was cut down in February
(I photographed it in 2007 from the public road)
From the same outing that produced More Biei Countryside among others.

I've so many things that I want to write about lately, but just no time as I help my mom recover from a stroke. But I ran into something so frustrating that I just have to rant a bit....

I worked for Yahoo! from 1997 to 2004, and as such it has a special place in my heart despite how it's deteriorated over the years. Knowing how it's deteriorated, though, didn't prepare me for what I ran into recently when trying to create a Yahoo! account for my mom.

Entrance This Way where is everybody? (from “ Not a Petroleum Refinery, Silly, it’s an Aquarium ” in 2011) -- Floating Island Aqua Life Park (マリンパーク境ガ浜) -- Fukuyama, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/6400 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Entrance This Way
where is everybody?
(from Not a Petroleum Refinery, Silly, it’s an Aquarium in 2011)

I recently set my folks up with a new TV, a TCL smart TV with Roku streaming service. The latter allows you to install apps on the TV, including ones that allow you to access photo-sharing sites like Yahoo's Flikr. I thought I'd set it up so that their kids (me and my siblings) can add photos of their grandkids to the Flickr account, and my folks would then automatically see them when they put the TV into Flickr Slideshow mode.

So, I went to create a Yahoo! account for my mom to use as the Flickr repository for these photos, but I couldn't. Yahoo! requires a mobile phone to create an account. If you don't have a phone that can receive a text message, you can't create an account. It's apparently been this way for some time.

Welcome (NOT!) (from “ Kyoto’s Haunted Hua Huan Museum ” in 2008) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/200 sec, f/5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Welcome (NOT!)
(from Kyoto’s Haunted Hua Huan Museum in 2008)

Now, before you say that's absolutely asinine!, let me make a few observations. One is that it's a free service; beggars can't be choosers. Another is that though we can only speculate on the reason, they must certainly have a specific reason for having implemented such a draconian hurdle to participation.

What could the reason be? Well, it could be a way to choose their demographic. Maybe they simply don't want users like my mom; maybe they're looking to skew their audience to the young and technologically hip, or to exclude folks to don't have the discretionary income to afford a mobile phone (because inability to afford it is the only possible reason one wouldn't have a mobile phone, you know).

Lots of Storage that apparently people like my mom can't have (from “ Kyoto’s Haunted Hua Huan Museum ” in 2008) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/500 sec, f/7.1, ISO 4500 — map & image datanearby photos
Lots of Storage
that apparently people like my mom can't have
(from Kyoto’s Haunted Hua Huan Museum in 2008)

It could also be a way to avoid account-creation abuse; if you want to create multiple accounts, you need multiple phones, and that's a hurdle that spam-bots, for example, can't easily overcome. If you don't have specific experience in the industry, you simply can not imagine the depths that some people go through to abuse online systems. Really, you're simply not evil enough to even imagine it. So take my word that abuse curtailment is a very big deal.

Or it could be something else. Who knows? Someone at Yahoo!, probably, but not me.

Nobody's Home (from “ Furano in Hokkaido, Japan ” in 2007) -- Hidaka, Hokkaido, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 51mm — 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Nobody's Home
(from Furano in Hokkaido, Japan in 2007)

So, given all that it's not reasonable to complain, but as a former Yahoo! I'm compelled to exclaim:

This is absolutely asinine!

Many folks with mobile phones have no problem with this, obviously, as Yahoo! (at the moment) still seems to exist. But a lot of folks don't have mobile phones, and a lot of folks who do don't want to reveal that private information to big corporations like Yahoo!. Yahoo! is proactively excluding these folks, which is perhaps their exact intent, but I don't see how this can bode well in the long term.

It's All Downhill From Here (from “ Kyoto’s Nasty 21 % City-Bike Hill Climb ” in 2015) photo by Gorm Kipperberg -- Copyright 2015 Gorm Kipperberg
302HW @ 3mm — 1/180 sec, f/2, ISO 50 — map & image datanearby photos
It's All Downhill From Here
(from Kyoto’s Nasty 21% City-Bike Hill Climb in 2015)
photo by Gorm Kipperberg

I spent considerable time trying to find a way around it, not initially believing that Yahoo! could be so stupid. I eventually abandoned the idea.

Abandoned (from “ Snowy Round Trip to the Heian Shrine ” in 2008) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 82mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Abandoned
(from Snowy Round Trip to the Heian Shrine in 2008)

I moved on to try my idea with SmugMug, a non-free photo-sharing site that I've worked with for many years because I made a plugin for Adobe Lightroom for it. SmugMug has always kindly provided me with a free account for plugin development, so I used that to test with. Normal users would have to pay a nominal fee each year, but at least they don't require something that may well not exist.

In Lightroom, I created a Publish Service using my plugin to upload photos to a SmugMug gallery, adding to the pipeline my Crop for iPad plugin to crop photos on the fly to best fit the 1,920×1,080-pixel screen of the TV. (I should probably rename the plugin to remove iPad from the title, since there's nothing iPad specific about it and I actually use it for more other devices than iPads.)

I then installed the SmugMug Roku app onto the TV, and soon had a gorgeous slideshow of my test photos. It was wonderful.

As wonderful as it was, the free SmugMug Roku app didn't work quite the way I wanted... my folks would have to drill down a few menu items each time they wanted to see a slideshow, and I wanted an even easier solution, so I bit the bullet and returned to try Yahoo! again. I had two US phone numbers available on my own cell phone via my attempts to get a reasonable American number for my Japanese cell phone, so I thought to use one of them to create my mom's Yahoo! account.

No go: it simply wouldn't accept them, telling me that's not a valid phone number.

So I give up on trying to create a Yahoo! account for my mom, and on Yahoo! in general. I divested myself of what little YHOO stock I still had. It's been a long, slow decline into mediocrity and irrelevance, Yahoo!, but I've been with you every step of the way, but from now you'll have to continue down to the end without me. Bye.

Always Stay Connected (from “ Kyoto’s Haunted Hua Huan Museum ” in 2008) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Always Stay Connected
(from Kyoto’s Haunted Hua Huan Museum in 2008)

All 15 comments so far, oldest first...

Probably a combination of security/bot prevention along with willingness to forgo the few users who can’t or won’t comply. I recently had a bank use the same technique when I tried to enroll in their web banking system (not mobile banking).

— comment by Scott on April 15th, 2016 at 2:42am JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Possible solution: Get a Google Voice number. It will send/receive SMS via Hangouts. https://support.google.com/voice/answer/115116?hl=en

I did try a Google Voice number, which can indeed send/receive text messages, but Yahoo said it’s “not a valid number”. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bill on April 15th, 2016 at 3:10am JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey:

I know Yahoo! (Canada) wants a phone number and alternate e-mail address in case you forget your password (I use LastPass for that) and when updating my mother’s Yahoo! accounI entered my home number and my e-mail address. IIRC it wanted to send me a te tbut I just said later, and since it had a valid e-mail address it seemed okay with that. If I go into tthe setttings on her account it tellls me the phone number is u verified but I just ignore it.

Mike.

I’ve seen this as well with my account (created ~20 years ago), so a mobile number is not required for older accounts, but it’s recommended as a way to recover the account if you otherwise lose access. What they’re doing for new accounts is requiring a mobile number, and it seems it’s got to be a “first party” mobile number, as opposed to something like a Google Voice or Skype number, both of which didn’t work for me. —Jeffrey

— comment by Mike Nelson Pedde on April 15th, 2016 at 5:27am JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Yahoo has certainly lost its mojo.

As for the mobile phone requirement… I always assumed that was because you hold no value to them as a customer without the ability to track your location and on-line habits, which a mobile phone provides, in spades.

— comment by Malcolm Hoar on April 16th, 2016 at 11:34am JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink

I’m also one of the original Yahoo users. Sadly, even if you had succeeded with the setup you were trying to implement, all the signs are that Flickr itself may not last much longer :(( Unless a white knight emerges.

One alternative could be to use a Chromecast. Chromecast has beautiful photos in slideshow as a default backdrop (AKA wallpaper). But Chromecast Device settings will also let you choose any (single or multiple) Google Photo galleries as the default backdrop. Then you and your family can add/subtract photos from the gallery you set up for your mom and they go automatically into the slideshow rotation.

It would involve another device, which may be a non-starter. But the upside is that by leaving the Chromecast as the default input then any time the TV is switched on the slideshow plays without pressing any buttons.

[[ I’m also a Roku user and prefer Roku’s remote and its interface . But for this specific feature (custom wallpaper slideshow) the Chromecast seems vastly simpler, for now. ]]

… All that said, I just noticed this in the Roku Channel Store. Not sure if it has the customization (selected galleries) that you might need. But perhaps worth a peek.
https://channelstore.roku.com/details/2112/picasa-web-albums-screensaver

Kind regards. And wishing your mom continued and steady recovery from the stroke.

— comment by Jay on April 21st, 2016 at 3:32pm JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Really funny, entertaining post. Loved the captions of the amazing photos.

— comment by Arthur on May 3rd, 2016 at 6:52am JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

Funny you should mention this, Jeffrey, because what has happened to me is the following:

My old Yahoo email account definitely didn’t require a mobile number to sign up, but a new one did last year. In this case, I gave them my number, hoping that later I’d be able to remove it. This is what I was able to do when I created extra Gmail accounts, as they too required a mobile number, although it was simple to remove it after responding to their text message to verify the account.

Interestingly, Yahoo help states that a phone number can be removed from an account by clicking next to it (or something like that, because I don’t have the page in front of me right now), but I couldn’t find anything to click at all.

My only solution was to delete the account because I absolutely refuse to have a phone number linked to any online account, and a situation occur where I’m in another country, and this triggers a site to demand sms verification that it’s me, and I cannot use my phone without roaming charges.

I do hope your mother is recovering well. All the best.

— comment by Andrew on May 4th, 2016 at 12:40pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

I want to add that I got so carried away with the Yahoo thing that I forgot to say how much I like the photo series!

— comment by Andrew on May 4th, 2016 at 11:10pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

Although requiring a working cell phone # is annoying, I think it might also have to do with the ease of implementing Two Factor Identification. If you already have a working cell, then the next step to 2FA is easy. Not saying that it’s any easier on the user, it just makes sense from that standpoint.

Alvin From NYC.

— comment by Alvin on May 10th, 2016 at 2:38am JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

Many of Yahoo! ‘s decisions do seem baffling, but I have to disagree with your opinion on this Jeffrey. Flickr offers 1TB of FREE storage. I’m sure that as an IT guy, you realize that offering up to 1TB of free storage costs a lot more than just the $50 cost of a 1TB consumer HDD. With data redundancy, electricity costs, data center staff, enterprise HDDs etc… it’s definitely no small feat to promise 1TB of FREE storage to every flickr account (other services such as Google Drive make you pay $100 a year for 1TB, and I believe that’s on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of pricing for cloud storage.)

So what am I trying to get to? Well it’s the fact that they have no choice but to ask for a cell phone number. If they just let anyone make an account with an email, any thrifty photog could just get 100TB by making a bunch of email accounts. The phone number requirement prevents that. You also mentioned Google Voice numbers not working, and that’s also intended by Yahoo. VoIP phone numbers such as Google voice are often blocked because VoIP numbers are just as easy and free to get as making a new email account.

I hope you understand their point of view.

Cheers!

Seems plausible, but lots of real users have no cell phone, so they’d be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. —Jeffrey

— comment by Sam on June 17th, 2016 at 12:38am JST (11 months, 13 days ago) comment permalink

Hi

Please try this alternate link out “I’d rather use my own email address”. When using an alternate email address, you are not asked for a mobile number.

https://login.yahoo.com/account/create?specId=usernameReg&display=login&lang=en-US&src=ym&intl=us&context=reg&done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com

I have not tried the default sign up to test if the mobile number can be removed afterwards. I assume that it can be.

P.S. You have a terrific site.

— comment by WK Lee on July 2nd, 2016 at 6:16pm JST (10 months, 27 days ago) comment permalink

I decided to sign up for a new Yahoo login with a phone number. Here’s what happens:

There isn’t a way to delete a phone number from Yahoo logins that have one primary mobile number but if you have two (or more) mobile numbers listed in the Yahoo account, it’s possible to delete the mobile numbers, leaving one number permanently active.

If you are interested, you can visit this Yahoo login page to find out:
https://login.yahoo.com/account/security?.lang=en-US&scrumb=cOBfpAx5eES&flow=view-phones&m=cc

Thanks.

— comment by WK Lee on July 9th, 2016 at 12:15am JST (10 months, 21 days ago) comment permalink

Somehow, the Yahoo link that I posted above is, now, a bad, improperly formed link. I’m not sure what the issue was, but after revisiting it from the comments, the link doesn’t work anymore and leads to the sign in page.

Follow this link instead:
https://help.yahoo.com/kb/SLN2058.html

“You must have at least 1 recovery phone number or recovery email address on your account at all times. If you have only 1 recovery phone number (and no recovery email address), you’ll need to add a second recovery number before you can remove the first one.”

Based on what is written in the support page, you will need a secondary email adress to be without a mobile number in Yahoo Mail.

— comment by WK Lee on July 9th, 2016 at 6:08pm JST (10 months, 20 days ago) comment permalink

I have recently added a second Flickr account using my own second email address to show our local football club match day images and I wasn’t asked for a mobile number. Maybe it is just a yahoo thing with there own emails?

— comment by Roger on November 10th, 2016 at 10:46pm JST (6 months, 19 days ago) comment permalink

Hi
Thanks for all your great info.
I’ve been a yahoo email user for over 15 yrs. Now I can’t access it without giving a mobile phone – so now they’re even forcing their long time users to give up a cell number. I refuse. Anyone know away around this??
Please help. As soon as I can access my yahoo email, I’m transferring to another email that doesn’t require this. The endless gathering of our personal info everywhere continues!
Thanks

— comment by marie on February 2nd, 2017 at 2:44pm JST (3 months, 27 days ago) comment permalink
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