Sunday, August 03, 2008

AOL Photos Users: Move 'Em or Lose 'Em

AOL has found yet another way to cut costs by screwing its users. They're closing AOL Photos, along with Xdrive and Bluestring.

I got the news over at Steven's place, (Sometimes)Blog, and I recommend you click the link for details.

What this means for those of us with photos stored there is, we need to move all those photos ASAP. As Steven points out, AOL has a history of making changes with no warning or consideration for its customers, so it would be unwise to wait.

I don't have a lot of images stored there, thank goodness, but I'll be finding new homes for them today. While I'm at it, I will move the posts from my old AOL Journal into Blogger--again, there aren't too many. And then, I'll probably delete the AOL Journal. I'll be surprised if J-Land isn't closed soon, too.

That leaves few reasons to still have an AOL account: My email address, which is linked to a boatload of subscriptions; my extensive favorites lists; and the extra security of browsing the Web from inside the service. Those, and the hell on earth that comes with cancelling through AOL's customer disservice department. I'll be better off when I'm out, but it will be a sad day.

Once upon a time, AOL truly was America, online. Its content was of, for, and by the people. True communities and lasting real-world relationships were forged between members who would never otherwise have met. Things like race, gender, age, looks, nationality, and wealth were irrelevant; all you really knew about the person behind the screen name was the quality of their mind and character. Nothing mattered but what one could bring to the table. It was heady stuff, and I loved it. I spent many happy hours there in chat rooms and on message boards, all moderated by dedicated and friendly volunteers.

Alas, the subscription business model could not sustain the service, especially after access became easier and cheaper elsewhere. And once advertisers became king, it was game over.

The service first usurped the most popular member-created communities, putting employees in charge of them and selling ad space to the audiences those ousted members had built. Over the years, management has launched one abuse after another. The last straw for me was when they pasted banner ads on paying members' private journals, with no notice, after promising never to do so. Their response to the resulting uproar was simply, "It fits our business model."(And if you don't like it, tough.)

And still a loyal core of members stay. Why? For the communities in which they participate, for the communities they helped guide and build, for their online friendships.

AOL never got it. Management never understood--and do not understand to this day--what it was they had. Its magic came from the inside out. They're all on the outside looking in.


Rambling Woods said...

You could keep your AOL address as I did and use it with something like Thunderbird to read your mail..

MyMaracas said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely look into that. I've had the same main address for 11 years, and notifying everyone of the change would be a total pia.

Kiva said...

I can't believe that AOL did that again. The last time AOL pulled that kind of shenanigan, I left and so did a lot of others. You would think that they would figure it out.

Steven said...

Glad you are acting! It'll be bad when AOL makes it official. Panic is no fun.

I've kept my AOL address and IMAP to hook it into thunderbird. I send my Google mail into thunderbird as well. In AOL Help look up IMAP and AOL provides instructions on how to configure third party programs to access your AOL email. Not too hard, just different.

MyMaracas said...

Kiva, you would think so, wouldn't you? But no. It'll never happen.

And Steve, I do appreciate the heads up. I may be giving you a holler on the process. It's nice to have friends who'll help you move. ;-)