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Web mall blasts Yahoo over listing

A local online mall and entertainment site complains about its standing on Yahoo's Chicago city guide.

Yahoo is drawing the ire of a Chicago online mall and entertainment guide for declining to list the site in the city directory section of its Windy City guide.

In yet another Web-style David-and-Goliath feud, the operator of the DuPage Mall said Yahoo rebuffed it, saying in an email that "we don't include online malls, just malls that have a physical location on the Web." The site is instead listed under business and economy.

Bill Baum is crying foul. "While Yahoo may be a private concern and can choose whomever it wishes to list, it acts as a public enterprise on the Internet and is a major player controlling the Internet," Baum said. "If the major search engines are allowed to discriminate against businesses, they restrict 'free trade,' and commerce on the Internet is doomed."

Baum, a native Chicagoan, launched his homegrown Web site last October. Like Yahoo's city guide, it lists "Chicagoland" entertainment (the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium), as well as a shopping guide for DuPage County, which is adjacent to downtown Chicago. Netizens can order flowers from a local florist on the site.

"It seemed like a real good idea--something I could offer to all the Chambers of Commerce in DuPage County," Baum, a computer consultant, said of his Web site.

He suspects Yahoo declined to link to his site in the company's Chicago guide because it could be seen as competition.

Not true, Yahoo said. In its city directories, the company limits online shopping to products that are regional, such as Boston baked beans, said Deb Tracy, a Yahoo "metro surfer."

Otherwise, online shopping shows up in Yahoo's online shopping under the business and economy directory, where Baum's site is listed.

In most cases, sites prefer to be listed under business and economy, because they get traffic from throughout the country, Tracy added. "Flowers are products that you can buy anywhere," she said.

Still, she promised: "We'll review his site."