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The Spark: A Fond Farewell

By Michelle Heimburger
Wed, December 22, 2010, 12:02 am PST
goodbye letter and pen
That's all she wrote.
(Photo by Jonathan Blocker)
In the beginning, it was just the Yahoo! Directory -- of course, it wasn't called "the directory" then: it was just Yahoo!. And when David and Jerry's pet dissertation-stalling project became more work than they could manage on their own, they assembled a team of unusual helpers. These "surfers" were a strange assortment -- ex-librarians, inquisitive generalists, obsessive-compulsives -- but they shared a few key traits: curiosity, an endless appetite for knowledge, and a passion for organizing information. Their goal (beyond satifying their own curiosity) was to help other users of the fledgling Internet find what they needed... even if they didn't know they needed it.

The Spark wasn't there from the beginning, but once it launched, it seemed that it had been inevitable. For years we surfers had been discovering new and niche and surprising topics, digging deep into the Web for more information, and packaging it neatly for others to enjoy. It was a logical step to write a little snippet about a new category we'd created, or a new interest or event we'd learned about. Over the years we wrote short posts that barely scratched the surface, and near-novellas that gave readers plenty to think about. We wrote in character, in verse, in visual form, and by committee (sharing our memories, pet peeves and embarrassing secrets). Sometimes we even dropped the snark and wrote from the heart about personal experiences.

Since February 2005, over 1,000 posts have been written by more than 50 surfers (only we're not called "surfers" anymore: we're now "editors"). We've had a marvelous time researching and writing and sharing, and we hope you've enjoyed it, too. If we've managed to spark any new interests or introduce you to anything previously unknown -- even if we've simply entertained you when you've stopped by our little corner of Yahoo! -- then we've done our jobs.

But just as The Spark was an inevitable extension of our Directory work, it was also inevitable that eventually we'd have to move on as Yahoo! evolved. The Spark's run is over, and so we say farewell. Thank you, dear readers, for joining us over the last half a decade.


On a personal note, as one of the original writers, a sometimes-editor, and a previous team leader for The Spark, I'd like to thank the dozens of people who have contributed in any way over the years. Special thanks go out to Lisa Eckstein and Heather Poyhonen, who each took the helm for a time, leading with cheer and patience, and to long-time editor Gordon Hurd, who helped us find our voice and contributed some of the best/worst puns I've ever heard.

Most of all, my thanks go out Dave Sikula, who was not only an original team member and our fearless leader to the end, but at times a one-man Spark all on his own. He said more than any of us -- in number of posts and words-per-Spark -- so it's only fitting that he should get the last word:

"It's been our pleasure and privilege to bring you the best in web results, fun facts, and just plain stupid stuff. If I may speak personally, I'd like to thank one of the finest groups of editors and writers ever assembled, whose passion, expertise, and humor are still reflected on these virtual pages. The Spark may be gone, but that spirit lives on. Thanks for the memories."     - Dave Sikula

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