Last US Postmaster at AOL Leaving This Friday

I was afraid to believe it, so I emailed the person in question to be sure, but before she could reply (that was only 5 minutes ago) I found a post that confirms that Annalivia Ford is the last Postmaster left at AOL, and unfortunately she will be leaving this Friday (I ran across the news on a Twitter search for “aol sucks”, go figure).

It’s unclear what will happen once Annalivia is gone, but from what she writes on her blog it looks like AOL India will take over US Postmaster operations. Annalivia, as her final parting act, has done a nice re-working of the Postmaster at AOL site, modernizing the layout and adding contact forms for various webmaster issues, including not being able to send or receive email from AOL users.

The website renovation was actually completed last December (it’s hard to believe it’s been that long since I looked at the Postmaster site, but it has) and was not done by Annalivia alone. I’ve updated my AOL Contact Info page to reflect these changes.

3-3-2010, 2:56PM: Annalivia lets me know what’s going on.

By email, she has informed me that:

It’s been getting more and more difficult as we lost more and more staff. On Jan 13, AOL laid off everyone remaining on the US Postmaster team except me and a programmer. At this juncture, the way to contact AOL Postmaster is through the website I linked from my blog. I truly regret not being able to give you a better answer. Thank you for your kind words on your site – the website was in fact my last big project. My manager and I wanted to create a testament, something useful to leave behind.

Be well.

Annalivia Ford
Senior Technical Account Manager
AOL AntiSpam Operations

3-3-2010, 3:51PM: In a sudden fit of good journalism, I finally thought to ask Annalivia if…

She got laid off. It’s the most obvious question but I forgot to ask! So I emailed her again. She very kindly responded with:

I accepted a different position at another company. The joy went out of my work with the loss of my team. Now, I’m off to do something totally different and …no more layoffs 🙂

It must be very demoralizing to see your entire team laid off and to know you’re the only one left. I can’t imagine what it’s like for one person to do the work of an entire department, nor what it must feel like to lose friends, close contacts, and possible mentors on your team. In almost every work situation I’ve been in, I wouldn’t have cared if they took away my boss, but take away my coworkers? It’s unthinkable. I do wish Annalivia the best of luck in her new career.

AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the AOL “Message Blogs”!

Upset about message board closings? Tell us about it here!

Readers tipped me off today that something is wrong with AOL’s Message Boards: in fact, most of them are missing. The UK Message Boards were shut down with no warning whatsoever.* (See the end of this post for my UK boards disclaimer) Many UK chat rooms were also shut down. No one knows where the US Message Boards have gone. When you click on the “Is this the last board left?” topic which is found one-off from AOL’s Message Board home page you’re taken to…I kid you not…Yahoo!, where a board exists for AOL members to wonder aloud where AOL’s message boards went. It’s a bizarre situation.

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Lost Australian email accounts mystery solved – thanks to Wikipedia.

After I got done today responding to Joe Manna on this issue, I started answering my email for the first time in weeks, and one of my reader’s questions about AOL’s email storage policies brought me to Wikipedia’s page on AOL. That wouldn’t normally reveal the answer to something going on at AOL that it seems nobody has the answer for, but lo and behold the page was updated recently (run-on paragraphs abound; the italicized swath was italicized by me):

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AOL extends Xdrive and BlueString shutdown deadlines.

Time is running out to get your files.

Checking xdrive.com and bluestring.com tonight I saw that AOL has extended the shutdown deadlines by 12 days on both sites. That means you now have until Jan. 12th to get your files before AOL deletes them. In light of AOL’s botched soft-closing of Hometown and AOL Journals [item #5], which was handled so badly that many users claimed they never even received an email about it, and thus did not know they had to retrieve their files by a certain date or else lose them forever, AOL is slowing down the remaining closings to give people more time to find out what’s going on. Unfortunately (and rather inexplicably), AOL did not extend the deadline on the closings of AOL UnCut (Dec. 18th) nor AOL Pictures (Dec. 31st), so if you haven’t retrieved your videos and pictures by now, you’re most likely out of luck.

Instructions on how to retrieve your files are included in the following related post: AOL closing down Xdrive, BlueString and AOL Pictures by Dec. 31st..

AOL’s Top 5 Blunders of 2008

AOL's top 5 blunders of 2008.

Asking why AOL screws up nearly everything they touch is like asking why the sun shines on a clear day, but I’m a sucker for tradition, and for two years running I’ve done so, so why not a third? It’s reasonable to expect this is the last Top 5 I’ll ever do on AOL since the company is dying. With no further ado, AOL’s top five blunders of 2008:

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Ficlets creator fights AOL to save his brainchild – and loses.

This is interesting: Joe Manna happened to catch a comment on the PeopleConnection blog from the Ficlets creator, Kevin Lawver, a long-time AOLer who left the company in May. Kevin wrote about Ficlets:

I knew this was coming, I just didn’t know the day. I tried, with the help of some great people, to get AOL to donate ficlets to a non-profit, with no luck. I asked them just to give it to me outright since I invented it and built it with the help of some spectacular developers and designers. All of this has gone nowhere.

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