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June 15th, 2001

Yellow Pages: Dial M for Molasses

The physical Yellow Pages will likely not be with us in the same capacity five years from now. They’re bulky, waste a lot of paper, and fall out of date quickly. However, in order for the paper versions of the big directories to go the way of the dinosaur, one thing will have to happen first…

Their online presence will have to not suck.

I use my former roomate as an example. For longer than a year after he moved out of our townhouse, he was still listed in all the online directories as living at that location. Now, he’s moved again, and several months after the fact, his information is still not updated from his previous residence. As far as I’m concerned, an online directory is pointless if it’s not updated more frequently than the print directory. Incidentally, this is using Verizon’s own

For an even worse experience, try the horrendous interface of, maintained by the people that put out one of the Yellow Pages’ few competitors. Good luck finding any information here. It’s not even clear that it’s a strictly business search.

And while I loved AnyWho’s reverse lookup function, now that it’s owned by ATamp;T, it serves no greater purpose than either of the two above sites.

Someday, online phone directories will be up-to-date, with no more than week’s lag time. Until then, it’ll be a combintation of online reference, bulky books, and the ever-present 411. -ram

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Ben Grimm
DATE: Friday June 15, 2001 -- 10:17:45AM
I agree that White Pages are likely to go away some day, or at least be distributed on a request-only basis, but I would imagine that the Yellow Pages provide a significant source of advertiser income for phone companies that wouldn't as easily be provided online.

People who do not use the Internet (overall, that's still most people) can easily call the operator to look up a specific person's home phone number, which is why I believe White Pages will go away, but you can't call up an operator and ask them to list all car repair shops in your area.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday June 15, 2001 -- 11:17:58AM
As long as I can find listings for "escort services", everything is OK.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Friday June 15, 2001 -- 10:10:26PM
Good points, Ben...

FROM: Matt
DATE: Saturday June 16, 2001 -- 2:40:48AM
I think the white pages are alot more useful than the yellow ones. The yellow only provide info if you can figure out the exact category that something goes under. That seems to be a rare case nowadays. White pages provide all the info you need, without the cluttery ads.

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Sunday June 17, 2001 -- 7:37:55PM
The last time I checked, the only info the online white pages services found on me was at least 5 years old. It showed an address I lived at in Virginia in 1995-1996. Gee, I've only moved 4 times since then...

I just did a search at and I couldn't be found! Yeah! Maybe it has to do with the fact I have no residential bills in my name. I live in a flat with 4 people and none of the bills are in my name. Hmm, aside from my name on the lease, I have no proof that I live here. I don't even have a California driver's license yet...

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 3:25:35 pm

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