Yahoo Directory was launched in January 1994 by co-founders David Filo and Jerry Yang. Both were graduate students at Stanford University. The two created a hierarchical directory of websites which was initially dubbed as "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web." Two months later, the directory was renamed into Yahoo!, which is actually an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle."
When the Web was still in its early days, human-curated Web listings were deemed popular. While it's true that search engines already existed, they quickly became notorious for delivering unsatisfactory results. When the Web was smaller, directories were deemed a significant alternative way to search for sites that would match one's interests.
However, the Web has grown exponentially and with that growth, Yahoo directory lost its exhaustive advantage. Google, on the other hand, successfully innovated the useful side of search engines. Eventually, Yahoo ceased to capture the interest or imaginations of the era's current Internet users.
Searching through Yahoo is likened to searching for books inside the library by looking over an old-fashioned card catalog system and relying only on 25 words or so that describe the book.
"With Google, it was as if you could search through every page of every book in the library. You didn't miss that needle in a haystack. And importantly, unlike previous search engines that used automation, you didn't find that the 'noise' of looking through all those pages drowned out the important relevancy 'signal.' Google's search algorithm was better than others," said Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand.
Records show that until 2002, the Directory was still seen on the front and center of Yahoo's homepage. Eventually, it was overtaken by crawler-based search which received a lot of help from Google's algorithm.
Now, Yahoo announces that after almost 20 years of going live with the Yahoo Directory and placing it as the focal point of its web portal, the human-curated search will be celebrating its last New Year's Eve on Dec. 31 this year.
"Our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (Dec. 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory," said Jay Rossiter, Yahoo senior vice president, in a blog post.
The shutdown is part of Yahoo's attempt to streamline its various product offerings. Advertisers shall be advised on how they can get an upgrade to the new service. For the record, the company has already given the ax to over 60 products within a span of two years.