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Remember that Yahoo email you haven’t checked since Gmail arrived? You might lose it

yahooEverybody remembers their first…email username, that is. Mine was pretty embarrassing – I may have mashed my name up with my crush’s name and his favorite number (who does that??). Soon after that, I created a new one using my favorite colors and my favorite number. Finally, I left adolescence behind and settled for my first and last (maiden) name, and I stuck with that until college. I did all that with Yahoo! and I loved it.

Yahoo! Mail was great for a while – you easily chatted with your friends through Yahoo! Messenger and kept tabs on various commitments with Yahoo! Groups. But when Google came out with Gmail, you found yourself slowly detaching from your Yahoo account. And then you stopped logging into it altogether.

But now you should probably log back in, not to use it for its email service, but to protect and retain ownership of your username. Starting July, Yahoo! will resurrect dead or unused logins from their Internet graves and offer them back up for grabs. Jay Rossiter, SVP Platforms for Yahoo!, announced that along with a few exciting changes they’ve made to the Yahoo! product line, they’re also giving their loyal users the opportunities to snag the user ID they’ve always coveted. In short, albert9330399@yahoo.com can become albert@yahoo.com … if he acts fast enough. “In mid July, anyone can have a shot at scoring the Yahoo! ID they want. In mid August, users who staked a claim on certain IDs can come to Yahoo! to discover which one they got,” Rossiter wrote.

Has it been a year since you last used your Yahoo! username? In order to keep ownership, you will have to log in to any Yahoo! product with your ID before July 15. After that, it’s considered free-for-all.

The announcement doesn’t really offer a lot of information. For instance, will the inactive users be notified at all when their old usernames are about to be passed on to someone else? How exactly can someone get on a wait list for a specific username? Will a list of available usernames be provided so people can easily select from it? We’ve reached out to Yahoo! with these inquiries and here’s what a Yahoo! spokesperson had to say about the matter: “We’re in the process of notifying ID owners of inactive accounts that their accounts could be recycled for someone else if they haven’t logged into their account for 12 months. We’ll have more information to share in mid-July. Stay tuned.”

Despite the dramatic turn to lure in loyal users, Yahoo deserves some credit – with the revitalized Flickr design and the company’s acquisition of Tumblr, it’s obvious the platform isn’t ready to fade into Internet non-existence just yet. But the way Yahoo! is handling inactive accounts and using them to bait prospective new users is hardly the norm. “Per our terms of use, we require that you sign into your Microsoft account periodically, at a minimum every 270 days, to keep your account active, unless provided otherwise in an offer for a paid portion of the services,” a Microsoft spokesperson told us, not commenting on whether or not inactive usernames get recycled. A Google spokesperson, on the other hand, confirmed that the company doesn’t offer up dormant Gmail and YouTube usernames – no matter how long they’ve been inactive. 

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