Yahooka.com, a site that described itself as “The Guide to Marijuana on the Internet” got its name from a mashup of “Yahoo.com” and “hookah”, a device for vaporizing and smoking tobacco and marijuana. While the name was clever, Yahoo.com was not impressed. In 2002, the owners of the website got a letter from Yahoo’s lawyers demanding that they deactivate the sites and hand over the domain or face the consequences (Source).
Recently, we tried to visit Yahooka to find out what happened. But, we were met by the message, “This site can’t be reached.” We then went on a mission to find out the fate of Yahooka.com.
Connecting Marijuana Lovers
Yahooka.com was launched around 1998 by pro-marijuana activist Charles Alvis. The site offered information about all things related to growing and using marijuana.
The website was a link directory, allowing users to access information from various sources. It also served as a forum where users interacted. It is not clear when the site eventually went offline but looking at its forum shows that users were still posting in late 2011 (Source).
What is clear is that the site survived the 2002 threat from Yahoo. It’s possible that Yahoo may eventually have discovered that pursuing the case would give the Yahooka.com more attention that would be the case if they let sleeping dogs lie.
Marijuana, the Law, Recipes, Entertainment
Yahooka covered a large variety of resources related to marijuana. It offered links to articles providing in-depth coverage on organizations fighting for the legalization of pot. The website featured recipes that used marijuana as an ingredient: think brownies and cookies. It also had marijuana facts and Frequently Asked Questions. (Source.)
Apart from teaching users how to properly roll a joint, Yahooka.com also posted links to scientific journals as well as articles on companies that provided medicinal marijuana to patients. It also had information on how marijuana lovers could grow the herb for their consumption, together with information on where they could get cultivation supplies.
Music, movies, games, and magazines were all included on the site’s recreational section. Unsurprisingly, musician Bob Marley featured prominently in the music section — it’s no secret that Marley was an advocate of the healing power of the herb (Source).
One of Yahooka’s most prominent sources of content was its CommUnity Online message board. This section of the website featured discussion boards, e-mails, clubs, and herb communities. The section also provided a platform for people who shared other interests, such as sports.
Unresolved Murder in Colorado
If Yahooka had experienced drama with Yahoo during its early days, it would later suffer tragedy. The website’s moderator Ken Gorman was murdered in his Colorado home in 2007. Ken was a lifelong pro-marijuana activist. He was outspoken and critical of efforts to halt the legalization of marijuana.
After Ken’s death, Charles Alvis began running a memorial site in honor of his work. His hope was that the sharing of information would lead to justice. Charles had never met Ken in person, but their shared love for weed and Ken’s dedicated fight to legalize marijuana inspired Charles. He has since dedicated his work, and his life, to Ken’s memory.
Apparently, Ken knew that he would soon be dead. His only daughter Valency Gorman said, “He wasn’t worried about getting old, because he said he’d piss off enough people, he’d get shot.” This may explain the fact that before his murder, Ken’s home had been broken into several times. In the invasion, which resulted in his death, no marijuana or money was stolen from his home. The circumstances surrounding Ken’s murder remain mysterious. As of 2017, there appears to have been no breakthroughs in the case.
So, What Happened to Yahooka.com?
Even though Yahooka came under pressure from Yahoo in its early days, it doesn’t look like this is the reason for its demise. Some reports quote the Cannabis Culture Magazine indicating that Yahooka’s legal counsel negotiated with Yahoo. The stories don’t say what the results of the negotiations were, but Yahooka survived for another decade after the debacle. However, a close look at the history of the website shows that the Yahoo headache was not the only one it suffered.
Over the course of its existence, Yahooka.com was inaccessible several times. In one instance in 2001, users of the community forum Marijuana.com were speculating that the site had been hacked. It also looks like some unscrupulous websites also took advantage of the site’s popularity. For instance, in August 2007, a user on the Shroomery.org community forum reported that Yahooka.com was redirecting to a drug testing website instead. Shroomery is a magic mushroom website.
Despite its issues, the website survived for several more years. It was last active in 2011. There was no official closure announced for Yahooka, neither is there any information about it being bought by someone else. However, the site seemed to lose favor with visitors over time. By 2003, people on different forums were already registering their unhappiness with the website. For instance, one poster complained that the place had gone downhill and “is over-run by people who can’t post a message without calling somebody a fag or being an a**hole in general.” (Source.) A few others responded to that comment and shared the same sentiment, expressing disdain for the website.