I know that all the "cool kids" have moved onto multinetwork instant-messaging clients like Trillian, Pidgin, imeem, or Adium (for Mac), but I'm still a loyal Yahoo Messenger user.
When asked why, I usually reply that all of my friends use Yahoo Messenger, but the real answer is more embarrassing: emoticons. How could I live without "dancing guy," "big hug," "green vomit," "talk to the hand," or "laughing skull?"
For those of you who also like those goofy Yahoo emoticons, there's good news. Yahoo is planning to add 10 new emoticons to its instant messenger, and it's running a contest to let users submit their own entries and vote on their favorites.
Powered by acquired Web company Bix, Yahoo's contest lets you submit any images (within the rules) for consideration to adapt into an emoticon, and it also lets you vote on your favorite entries. The submissions with the most votes will then be converted into new Yahoo emoticons.
If you spend any time evaluating or voting on these emoticon submissions, you'll quickly notice that many are strongly influenced by Cute Overload or LOLcats. (Now that I think about it, the vast majority of images I saw involved kittens.)
The big problem I have with using Bix for this type of contest is that you can't simply vote for your favorite or rank your favorites from the big list of entries. Instead, voting is structured by "faceoffs." You are presented with choice A or choice B, and when you pick, you're presented with another choice that often includes your last pick. In essence, it will take you about 500,000 clicks to vote on all of the 5,319 entries (and counting).
That's great for Bix's page-view metrics, but a rather rotten user experience, in my opinion. If there is a way to vote for my favorite emoticon entry without using the face-off format, let me know about it in the comments. Also, what's your favorite Yahoo emoticon? Mine is probably "b-(" or "smiling guy getting punched in the eye." Youch!