Google Groups Vs. Yahoo! Groups

By John Arkontaky

Online groups bring like-minded people together from across the world.
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Finding people with similar interests, aspirations, hobbies and career paths can have many benefits. Not only do Google Groups and Yahoo Groups offer a sense of community to people with mutual interests, they are great for sharing information, offering feedback and a soundboard for ideas, or helping generate new ideas, partnerships and friendships. While both group directories offer a huge selection of enthusiast groups, knowing the particulars of Google and Yahoo's directories can make a difference in what platform to focus on.

Communication Methods

Google sorts its group types into three sections: Email List, Web forum and Q&A forum. Email list restricts communications to email-only correspondence. A Web forum group primarily uses a Web-based forum to send and respond to messages. However, members can receive updates via email. The Q&A forum also allows you to receive email updates and will use Google's Web platform to post topic questions and answers. Yahoo Groups sticks to one group type that functions like an open forum where a member can post messages. These messages can be responded to via email or within the post itself.

Browsing Groups

Both Google Groups and Yahoo Groups offer hundreds of groups within their respective directories. However, how they channel you to groups is slightly different. In Google Groups, you can search through existing groups based on a category such as “Animals” or “Games.” It also allows you to narrow a search by country and state. Yahoo Groups contains location-based groups, however its directory doesn't offer a dedicated tool to find regional groups based on a category.

Joining a Group

Yahoo Groups allows you to join a group by either responding to an invitation from a current group member or contacting a group directly through Yahoo's Group Directory. When joining a group, you can set preferences, such as your profile visibility and how group messages are delivered to you. If you don't want to officially join a group, but would like to read about the group's activity, Yahoo offers an email subscription service. Google Groups also allows you to join groups by searching its directory database or by responding to an invitation. Members can link their profile to their Google accounts or remain anonymous.

Start a Group

Creating a Google Group requires you to create a name, email address and description as well as establish group settings, such as its primary language and who can view posts, create posts and join the group. Selecting the right group type, such as Email list, Web forum or Q&A forum, is highly important. While many groups will use the Email list and Web forum types for hobbyist groups, businesses will sometimes use the Q&A forum to create discussions with customers about products and customer satisfaction.

Yahoo Groups also asks for a group name, description and email address, but you must first select the category of your group's focus. Yahoo's directory allows you to either keep your group at a general-discussion level or narrow a group's niche to a microcosm. Later, after the group is created, you can adjust permissions for who can view, post and join the group.