Yahoo has officially begun an ambitious recycling of unused account names. Last month, it launched a plan to deactivate old accounts that hadn't been used in the past year, freeing up short and desirable email addresses for a new batch of people. Now, it's started doling out the very first repurposed names. If you put your top five choices on a wish list by August 7th, Yahoo will let you know today if one of them is available. If not, you'll be automatically moved to a "watch list," which will keep your picks queued up for three years. As old accounts go dark, Yahoo will dole them out accordingly.
The plan to resurface old addresses fits with an effort to revamp Yahoo's oft-ignored email and web tools, but it's raised privacy and security concerns since its inception. Yahoo has worked with Facebook and others to keep mail for, say, one email@example.com from reaching the inbox of his successor — if an account is reset, a header system will ideally reject any messages that seem to be meant for the old owner. Yahoo's Dylan Casey has said that few of the deactivated accounts actually had email inboxes associated with them, but some still worry new users could impersonate old ones with the recycling system.
Yahoo's free wish list was apparently a one-time deal, and the period for adding to it is over. The watch list, however, is open to anyone: write down your top five names, and Yahoo will look for them and reserve them just like those of early applicants. Doing so, however, requires $1.99 up front, with no guarantee you'll get one of your picks within the three-year waiting period. There's no word on what's been handed out, but Yahoo's most common requests included "David," "Jennifer," "Batman," and "Superman," so don't get your hopes up if you wanted to be the Man of Steel or the Caped Crusader.