Yahoo Groups message posting delays

The Issue

The posting of a message on a Y! Group and then getting no responses can be confusing for many. A few may think no one was interested in them and give up after a while. Other times important details arrive late, annoying those who might have needed them (cancellations, improved directions, hotel room #, etc). We aren't picking on this person, they just happened to catch my eye and inspire me to write about this issue. So, if you meet them sometime and this article helped you, thank them!

A Typical example

Yahoo! Groups are a free service, but we know you knew that. Part of the "service" is not always getting the message posted when you think it will be. Sometimes it's fast, many times it's not. At least in comparison to the e-mails between friends. Below is a screen capture of an example Group message that shows it had been "posted" at 1:48 PM.

Later we'll talk about why this posting time of 1:48 pm is wrong (well, it's right in only one of the world's 24 time zones!).

Some see little or no delays

When the message is posted to the group it is soon available for people to read on the Yahoo! Group web site (or in a minute or two). Hence, there is little to no delay for those reading on the web, ie those who set their "Message Delivery" to No email (see example below).

Still with us so far? Good!

Individual emails + free service = delay

OK, you thought (based on this page's name) there was supposed to be something about delays here? Another part of the "free" Yahoo! service enters into the picture, their free e-mail accounts. They don't promise anything about speed or even guarantee delivery at all. So, what does that mean for those reading the group with the setting individual email? It means there "could" be a delay in the ability to view the messages for those people. Yahoo! has many e-mail servers, each one is dedicated to some of the Yahoo! Groups, some of those servers may be processing messages quickly, others may be VERY bogged down. This is why you may notice some posts going thru quickly and others not. Yet another factor is that, by tradition all mailing list mail is sent with 'Precedence' 'Bulk' priority. This 'can' add several other delays (at your ISP who hosts your e-mail mailbox) ranging from ending up in your mailbox's Bulk folder to delaying the delivery even more. The new AOL e-mail SPAM filter has been particularly hard on yahoo groups, some members loose ALL postings until the set the AOL up to allow a specific group. Many people loose group membership after their account enters the 'bouncing' state.

Typical delays we've seen have been a few minutes to over a day (during a virus outbreak), typically on weekends expect up to a 4 hour delay.


In the Outlook email program on our PC the above example message had a "Received" time of 11:17 pm (local time). So, for this example the actual full delay was 6 hours 28 minutes! Why 6 hours? Yahoo! has some time zone "issues" as well, the actual posting time was 4:49 pm [1] (local time). So, will this post about "tonight" that arrives to many folks at 11:17 pm get many responses? Our guess is few replies from those people that read the Y! Group via Individual email!!! Many times we see replies to these late posts similar to: "darn, I wish I'd seen this sooner, I would have shown up!"

1) We showed it as 1:49 pm before, why? Yahoo's servers are on the west coast of the US and set to PST. The three hour difference is because our PC is set to EST.

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Last updated April 18, 2004

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