Friday, September 29, 2017

The Calendar is not Working

 "Your access to this calendar is being processed. Please check back later."

Several years ago, one of the ministries at my parish was losing its WebEx online tool, needed an alternative, advertised for someone to help, and I responded. Without, frankly, a great deal of thought I suggested a Yahoo group and that a small team from the ministry become charter members to evaluate the Yahoo Group for sufficiency. They approved my suggestion, and I soon was the group administrator.

The ministry's needs were minimal, the evaluation was positive, and we decided to switch to Yahoo at year-end. This ministry had collected lots of digital "stuff" and moving forced a keep-or-toss decision about all of it. Eventually we moved all the files that needed to be moved, and some that only maybe needed that. I posted the Excel schedule to the group's Files page and put all the events on the group's Calendar. We were ready on Yahoo.

As time moved along, performance in the real world replicated that in our test: I posted and removed files as I was supposed to, created and modified events on the Calendar, and the Calendar notified all members of an event a week ahead of time. Everything was wonderful …

… unless it wasn't. Occasionally I was unable to post files. Several times the calendar function worked only spottily … I would add an event to it, save it, and come back later and it would be gone. I would be completely unable to save new events. I would be unable to access the calendar at all. Each time the functionality soon 'fixed itself,' but I worried more each time it happened.

With the first failure, I attempted to reach Yahoo and found the soft under-belly of the enterprise: there was no help desk. Eventually … after struggle with the links on the Yahoo troubleshooting pages … I usually got to a page which said, in effect, "Well, then, talk to those in the forum." Although they sometimes responded to queries in those forums, Yahoo staff was unavailable to connect with to ask about anything.  Pretty much everybody in the forum had the same question: "Is this ever going to really get fixed?" Nobody supplied anything resembling an answer.

All of this had come to seem like ancient history … until recently. I went to add an entry to the Calendar, and I got an error message, "Your access to this calendar is being processed. Please check back later."

I waited for several days before panicking; the reason for panic included continuing to get that error message, getting that same message with several different browsers, other members of the group's getting that error, and much talk about this problem on the Yahoo forums. 

One of the member's comments was especially telling as it pieced together several experiences I had had but not reflected on. The comment linked periodic outages, the inability to talk to anyone at Yahoo and continual neglect to the probability that new owner Verizon would take months to get it all straightened out, if they even chose to address the issue at all. Yikes! I decided I likely backed the wrong horse when suggesting Yahoo; Google groups would likely have been better.

Although full functionality has again, mysteriously, returned to our group, our ministry will abandon Yahoo, see what else is out there and possibly use internal tools the parish has now that it didn't have when the question first arose.

Yahoo: this is no way to run an enterprise.

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