Yahoo Flicks the Fickle Finger of Flickr at its Followers

Gosh, photographers sure are an angry bunch, aren’t they?  Last week everyone hated Adobe. This week it’s Flickr.  I didn’t agree with the anger that people were spewing forth at Adobe but with Flickr, it seems to be well-justified.

Flickr was way overdue for a change.  The whole site was very 2008 and they seemed to just sit there twiddling their thumbs while other sites left them in the dust.  So a radical redesign was needed and I quite like the way the site looks now.  Giving users 1 terabyte of free storage is also a massive step forward.

But one step forward, two steps back as they say.  The new pricing structure makes no sense at all and spits in the face of all the people who invested time and money in the site over the past decade.


(The above image is from Trey Ratcliff.)

The switchover has been badly handled.  If you look at Flickr’s FAQ page, you can see it has been only randomly updated, so that all of the old Flickr Pro info is still there, even though one can no longer subscribe at that level.   Apparently going forward one can only renew an existing Pro account if it was set up before the change to be automatically renewed.  And tell me who the hell is going to subscribe at the $500 a year level?  Pay $500 to add a second terabyte of data?  Or just get a free second account for that extra terabyte?

And then of course there’s the above quote from Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer, “there’s no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”  While I don’t think there are publicly released numbers, Flickr is apparently saying that their conversion rate was poor and the number of Pro accounts they had was relatively small.  Even if that is the case, is it wise to blatantly insult such a huge portion of your audience, especially the audience that was paying to support the service all these years?

Others are upset that Flickr will now be running context-based ads alongside the photos.  There’s at least two different sides to this story.  There’s Yahoo’s side, that all this software and infrastructure costs a lot of money that they have to recoup one way or another.  And then there’s the user side, which is well aware that Google offers profit sharing to content creators on YouTube, some of whom are getting rich via the revenue sharing they get for the ads Google runs with their videos.

For me, it’s not such a big deal.  To be successful on any of these services, one has to be very active – not just posting photos but also liking and commenting on other peoples’ photos and participating in forums, and it’s just something I have never had the time to do.  I post to my Flickr account very randomly (so randomly that the cover photo on my page, thanks to the new layout, isn’t mine, at least not until I get around to updating it, which will take some time).  I’ve had 52,000 views total on 1,700 photos, which is either respectable or horrible depending on your point of view.  (I’ve had almost 25,000 views of far fewer photos on 500px and even there I’m not that active but the site is set up far differently, making discovery an easier process, meaning more people do it.)

Well, Yahoo also just announced that they’re buying Tumblr and one result is thousands of Tumblr users rushing to WordPress.  If Yahoo is attempting to stop the bleeding and get back some of the cool, they’re so busy shooting themselves in their feet that they might never get there.  Will the outrage subside or will Yahoo end up having to backtrack on some of these poorly thought out changes?  Time will tell.


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