I had debated writing something about this, but wasn’t sure if I would or not. Ultimately I decided to do so because I have a platform here, might as well use it. Some of you who follow me on Twitter (@NewtonGimmick) may have seen my somewhat profanity laced tirade about this, but I figured I’d try to string together some thoughts that are a little bit more coherent. What am I rambling about? The recent changes to Flickr!

Flickr was founded in 2004 and quickly grew to the most recognizable photo sharing site on the web. Eventually they lost that title, but remained a staple for people who took photography serious. While they were never the place to go for hosting random photos, they were the place where you could build up a “portfolio” and almost instantly they attracted legitimate photographers to their website. What Flickr also built up, was a huge collection of hobbyists who weren’t “pros” necessarily, but who were interested in photography, art, composition and all the things that make taking photos great.

Soon Flickr implemented many social media aspects, long before they were commonplace on the internet. Yet despite these changes and somewhat highbrow content, Flickr never went too far outside the box. Flickr became something rare, a community. What was great about Flickr was that people with $2,000 cameras could share photos with those who had much simpler point and shoots, while developing a common bond and interest in the medium.

The layout was simple and at the crux of the design was the ability to upgrade to Pro status for $25 or so a year. This gave you unlimited storage. The other nice element of Flickr is that if you let your Pro lapse, your photos didn’t disappear. You couldn’t access them directly anymore, but Flickr never deleted them. They were there waiting for you should become Pro again, likewise they remained in any groups or other content you placed them in.

But all that changed this week when the new Flickr rolled out. Flickr has been owned by Yahoo for a few years and fresh off their purchase of Tumblr, they decided to reinvent Flickr as a new “hip” photo site. Flickr has never been about being cool. It might have been a trend briefly after it’s creation, but it soon settled into being a site that had fantastic, but basic functionality.

Yahoo’s new vision of Flickr is to try and be a cool site like Tumblr and Instagram. Yahoo is furious that Instagram has so much of the market share. What Yahoo failed to realize is that Flickr doesn’t share the same market with Instagram. Flickr wasn’t ever about posting the latest photos from your iPhone. And no, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t people who did that. Flickr welcomed those people with open arms. They were part of the community, but they weren’t the basis of it.

Flickr's new layout, like their focus, puts emphasis on all the wrong things.

Flickr’s new layout, like their focus, puts emphasis on all the wrong things.

The new Flickr is supposed to be a place where you post up all your random, pointless photos. The original Flickr gave you information on the camera used, aperture, shutter settings and allowed you to interact with the photographer to learn more. These options still appear in the new and “improved” Flickr, but they’re buried away because they aren’t flashy enough.

The old layout of Flickr wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but it was very functional. It wasn’t broken, so it certainly didn’t need fixing. But Yahoo has made sure that the new layout is super sleek and fancy. Unfortunately this also comes at the cost of slower loading times (to the point that apparently users with even slightly sluggish internet speeds can barely use the site) and almost zero functionality. Many of the old options are there, but they’re scattered throughout a clunky interface that’s designed to dazzle you, not help you.

Simple things like profiles are either completely removed or buried so deep that even experts at Dig-Dug can’t find them. What was once painless navigation, is now just a myriad of massive images and odd little hidden areas where you have to click through screen after screen, hoping to find what was once a simple text link. Even the commenting system, which was basic but very effective in the old Flickr is now flashed up so that you have constantly scroll down and let new comments load up.

Ultimately the redesign is 50 pounds of gloss shoved over what was already a pristine paintjob. Some of the additions aren’t bad, but rather than rolling them out slowly or allowing users the options of customizing their interface, Flickr just changed everything overnight. They didn’t bother warning their users (not even those of us who pay for Flickr), because everyone was gonna love this, right?

Flickr now offers a terabyte of free storage, which is much more than the old 200 free photos that Flickr used to offer. It certainly sounds good on the surface, but with that free terabyte comes an influx of advertisements. The Pro level that used to offer unlimited photos is gone. Lots of Pro users are threatening to quit, but sadly it’s falling on deaf ears because Yahoo has already said we can’t quit… We’re fired. In it’s place is an option that costs twice as much and offers no more space, but simply removes the ads… For you. Yes, you can pay $50 for what is essentially ad blocker for your Flickr, but anyone else who views your stuff will still see the ads.

While a terabyte is more than 99% of the users on Flickr will ever use, it also is a huge reduction in overall space. As I mentioned before, the old Flickr, even at the free level, offered unlimited storage. You could only see 200 photos for free, but you could upload unlimited and for $25 or so a year, you could see unlimited too. No ads, no fuss, no muss. Now they offer the Dublr program, which gives you an extra terabyte (but doesn’t remove the ads at all) for the low, low price of $500 a year. It’s a steal!

Flickr replaced many o fthe useful options like stats, with pointless ones like one click slideshows. Because slideshows are cool! Or at least they were in 1994.

Flickr replaced many of the useful options like stats, with pointless ones like one click slideshows. Because slideshows are cool! Or at least they were in 1994.

Ultimately the new pricing reveals the true goal of Yahoo’s new Flickr. They don’t want you to pay for anything. They want you to use the free terabyte. Anyone who’s foolish enough to pay $50 for an advanced ad blocker, is just icing on the cake for Yahoo. They’re not counting on those dollars. Flickr is pushing out the Pro users by design. This site that you’ve supported with your dollars for nearly a decade, isn’t for “you” anymore.

Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer made it very clear in her press appearance about the new Flickr that this was exactly her intention.

“Flickr was awesome once, it languished, and we want it to be awesome again,” Mayer said.

If you’re wondering how much it’s languished, Flickr only boasts a paltry 8 billion photos and nearly 90 million users. With hundreds of thousands, if not a few million, paying users. Egads! No wonder it needed such an overhaul!

Mayer also said that there’s “no such thing as professional photographer anymore,” which has drawn a lot of sharp criticism. Honestly, I feel there’s been far too much focus on this statement. I could care less about the semantics of this, dunderheaded as it is, because it just cuts more to her overall philosophy of Flickr. It’s not about the photographs, it’s about shoving as much crap on there as possible. Forget Bram Stoker, we want Twilight!

And that’s exactly what Flickr wants. They want teenage kids posting up all the stupid duck face photos that they litter Instagram and Facebook with. Because those teen kids, are ad revenue. If you’re hip, people will pay big bucks to advertise on your site. And if you offer tons of free space for kids to post duck face photos, you’ll draw in lots of users and that means lots of ad revenue. Who needs 89 million users and thousands if not millions paying for yearly usage of the site, when you can have 200 million users paying nothing but attracting big ad revenue? Apparently not Yahoo.

Mind you, Flickr has always had ads. They’ve always gotten revenue from other sources. Getty Images had a deal with Flickr. Special ads were used in other places. But the overall concept of Flickr was to generate money from a variety of avenues and to keep the community one that had a sharp focus on quality. Even if there was a lot of junk on there, Flickr never concerned itself with being cool.

Yahoo has remained a company that’s been desperate to be cool for years. Mayer is a former Google employee, who in the last 10 months has promised to make Yahoo “cool” again. Thus far they’ve managed to pay over a billion dollars for Tumblr, which has yet to make anything close to that and redesigned Flickr so that it will no longer have a safety net profit by having paid users. It certainly seems doomed to fail.

Perhaps that’s my biggest gripe. After being around a decade and still going strong, it always seemed like Flickr was going to be there. I never really worried about Flickr going away. After all, it had millions of users and a large portion of which, paid for the service. But now? Flickr suddenly feels uncertain. I am less trusting of investing my time uploading photos to Flickr, because I get the feeling that in a few years, Flickr will be going the way of MySpace.

That is unless, Mayer and the folks at Yahoo realize they’ve made a major mistake. Since rolling out their changes a few days ago, hundreds of thousands of Flickr users have complained. This is not a few folks complaining, this is the clear vast majority. As bad as the ads are, most people aren’t even upset about that. It’s Flickr’s new focus and perhaps most importantly, the layout.

Flickr has decided to “grandfather in” existing Pro users, so that you can continue to pay $25 a year of unlimited photos and no ads. It’s a good deal, but again, it’s a surface thing. Flickr has made it clear that this could end at any time. They are only agreeing to honor it for as long as they decide to honor it. Traditionally Flickr wasn’t one that had wild whims, but that was the old Flickr. Who knows when they’ll drop Pro, now. They redesigned the entire site without so much as a warning peep. It could be any day now. And anyone who wasn’t Pro when they made the switch, is SOL. Doesn’t matter if you’ve been Pro for years and just let it lapse a few days, Pro is gone.

The other option is to allow users to customize their interface to something akin to the classic Flickr layout. This seems rather easy, particularly since most of the functionality appears to be in tact, just buried under the new layout. Despite requests from thousands of users, thus far Flickr hasn’t addressed this. In fact, Flickr hasn’t addressed anything.

Over on the official Flickr Twitter, they posted this yesterday:

To our pros, hobbyists, snap shooters & film freaks. Our students, naturalists & travelers. Our dads, sisters & friends. We love you all.

It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s pretty clear how to read through the lines here… We want to be a website that doesn’t have a specific focus. We want to be all things to all people. Of course, this has never worked for any company in the history of the universe. Best to focus on doing a few things really well, than trying to bring everyone under the umbrella. Even Google, McDonalds and Walmart can’t be all things to everyone, try as they might.

In the end, perhaps Flickr will see the light. Perhaps this influx of teens and tweens will actually happen and the terabyte shell game will entice even more professionals and skilled hobbyists that the Flickr community will thrive like never before. Perhaps Yahoo will listen to it’s massive base of paying customers and decide to reimplement the old Pro program and allow the basic layouts to return. I am hopeful that will happen, so that it can shore up Flickr so that it can remain the vibrant community that it has been for so long… But I’m certainly fearful that the ignoring of suggestions will continue and Flickr will eventually just be another failed CEO retool experiment.

Only time will tell…

109 Responses to The New Flickr Sucks and Here’s Why

  • clark says:

    Fantastic article, Newton. You’ve got yahoo figured out. In their world nothing should ever be niche. Instead they want all sites to be just like them: vapid.

    • Newton says:

      Thanks Clark. I find the whole thing frustrating, especially when it’s clear that the motivations here aren’t to improve their service or work with their paying customers.

  • cornelius crab says:

    Well said. Though honestly I’ve been expecting this since 2005 and I’m amazed it took them this long to wreck it. I’m hanging around in the hopes they at least fix the most glaring usability flaws, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

  • Màrtainn says:

    Nice article Newton and it lays it out very clearly.

    I’ve been on Flickr since 2008 and the re-skin job they’ve done is a real mess.

    It hasn’t been applied to the whole site, it adds no functionality to the site, it’s been an exercise in, “click this and see what happens” to try work out how they’ve changed (or should that be hidden) the user interface and the new justified endless scroll they’ve applied to everyone’s photostream is a bandwidth hog and it appears that the amount data they’re now uploading is also having an impact on their own servers. In terms of usability and the clear display of information and pictures it’s a backward step.

    As far as I can see the re-skin job was done in a rush with minimal testing in order to be launched on the same day as their terabyte announcement which is designed to bring in that “social-media” demographic. The whole new “social-media” look on Flickr was driven by marketing not by any coherent design philosophy or by those with an interest in or love of photography.

    They might succeed. If they can bring in lots of new users their strategy will have succeeded but at the expense of those pros and serious hobbyists who appear to be already leaving.

    The one thing that nobody’s really talking about is if Yahoo already own one picture site (Flickr) which isn’t making them a lot of money why have they just gone out and bought another in Tumblr?

    Is the long term strategy for Yahoo a Flickr/Tumblr merger?

  • rita says:

    i agree completely. also, what doesnt feel nice is that despite too many complains and confusion about how to use the new interface, they havent write or try to apologies with the users. they are not being clearly enough. i feel such a tricky vibe in the way they did it, it is not in tune with me, i will wait for to see how it goes but i dont feel like being another person more for their stats. because thats how i feel it, being treat as a number and thats it. it is sad as it was a cool site for to discover good work, now even to do that is hard with such a low and noisy new design.

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  • hari says:

    The problem with moving out of Flickr is that you can take your photos away (tedious as it is) but the community loss is the biggest issue. I wish I could find another photo sharing community as vibrant as Flickr.

    • Newton says:

      Absolutely and even if you find a new place, who’s to say I will move to the same one (assuming we were friends on there) it’s just the beginning of many troubles that disenfranchised Flickr users will have to deal with. I keep holding on to hope that Flickr will address some of this stuff and work harder to keep it’s community together, but otherwise it’s going to be a mess.

    • I just like the old Flickr. Great article though.

    • Google+ ?

    • Phil says:

      Try Ipernity:
      This is where thousands of people from Flikr have already gone…it looks a lot like the old Flikr but with some big differences:

      1: Everything works perfectly (unlike Flikr).

      2: You have choices (layout, etc)

      3: Staff are very friendly, helpful and responsive (on Flikr you just get ignored and / or censored if you complain).

      • Scott says:

        I never heard of Ipernity until you mentioned it. I just checked it out and I’m impressed. Thanks for mentioning it; I was starting to wonder what alternatives to Flickr there might be.

        I too am greatly disappointed in Flickr’s redesign. Photostreams and Favorites pages are way too long and take too long to load.

  • Andy says:

    Very well stated and written article. I agree, Flickr will most likely be intergrated with Tumblr in the future. A shame, but alas, that’s corporate progress.

  • Deb says:

    Excellent article. Yesterday I was granted access to a couple of the bucket test groups. It was dreadful to read member’s reaction and pleas to get out of the test. It breaks my heart to see the rest of the membership make the exact same pleas as the testers did. A true leader would tell it like it is. Not hide – not avoid. What I see happening is not leading, it’s manipulating. What company launches a major change before a holiday weekend and keeps no staff onsite to handle customer needs? We were just abandoned. Left to duke it out with the trolls that popped up every few hours or answer the questions others had. You can’t sink much lower than this – eh? Or maybe they can.

    P.S. I suspect the lawyers probably told them they had to grandfather in the existing Pro Members @ $25. For at least 1 year anyway.

    • Newton says:

      It seems to me that they are intentionally avoiding answering questions on it. Which certainly isn’t leading. Very frustrating is what it is. You’re probably right about the Pro users. I’m guessing no more than a year.

  • John Weiss says:

    Superb article. I’m afraid it is true. It certainly doesn’t seem that hard to offer some customization options that would let users present their photos in the way they prefer and the fact that this hasn’t happened is surprising. Of even more concern is the lack of response about whether they plan to offer some accommodation to all the complaints. When Delicious made a similar change that demonstrated they had no idea of how that product was being used, they quickly began daily communication about what they were doing, which features they were going to add back, and now have gotten their site to where old users can still use it and new ones can be attracted to the changes they made.

  • oochappan says:

    and other photo-sites are well aware of what is going on in flickr, offering tools to export all your photos to them … the diaspora starts …

  • Bill Benzon says:

    Great analysis. What I really miss is being able to look at all the thumbnails of a set and see the whole thing on one or two relatively largish pages. Yes, they’re only thumbs, not the whole picture. But it’s enough to remind me of the whole picture. The current infinity pages make it all but impossible to do a quick survey of a set that’s got more than 20 images (some of mine have over 1000 images and I’ve got over 150 sets).

    • Newton says:

      Yeah I agree. While on the surface being able to view larger pictures sounds better, it’s actually a much bigger hassle to try and go through sets and look at overviews.

  • Skire says:

    I deleted my account, due to how much the look sucks, it was a pro and its cost me, but it sucks so much I had to go…

  • Jay says:

    Well written. I wasn’t aware of the ad-blocking (or non-blocking) thing either, but that’s another strike against them, to add to the new design which was presumably created by a 16 year old with ADHD. I used to upload one shot more or less daily, but I haven’t done so since the new look came out, and I’m all but ready to close down the whole thing once I’ve saved all my pictures to my own hard drive.

  • billb says:

    Best article yet!! Keep up the great work!

  • VixenVena says:

    Thank you for such an excellent article. I transferred all my photos to as some of the pros on Flickr suggested. So far, I’m enjoying the Ipernity interface much better than the new Flickr. Yahoo has been slowly killing off all the niche communities that have formed in all its languishing corners. Yahoo chat which also had a small but cohesive worldwide community. Yahoo killed that as well.

  • Fi Webster says:

    Great article, except for one thing: you left out the artists. I am a collage artist and painter. I don’t even own a camera—and I don’t have a cell phone either. I am one of a lively minority of Flickr users who used to scan (or photograph) our artworks, upload them, and participate in an artists’ community on Flickr—in dozens of Flickr groups that are devoted to non-photographic artwork. I say “used to” because right now, our community is a shambles. People are fleeing the new Flickr to go to Ipernity, DeviantArt, Redbubble, and various other art-supporting websites.

    I am devastated by this, Years of dedicated networking down the drain. It’s all gone.

  • John Game says:

    Great article. I feel betrayed by flickr because I put a lot of work into my photos there over the years, I had a thousand hits or so a month. I am a botanist and had many plant photos in sets etc with detailed information to make them useful to others. It is by no means simple to transfer this body of work to another site, and it will disrupt my contact network. But If I leave it like it is, viewers will have to see ads with my photos (even if I myself remain Pro) and on top of this accessing the info about the sets is not longer clear and elegant, etc etc. I could go on but the bottom line is that I feel betrayed.
    – John Game.

  • Spot on!

  • userxyyyz says:

    Random observations:

    • you can bet Marissa Mayer is between a rock and hard place. She’s got to keep yahoo happy because she’s from Google and she sold herself and skills to yahoo. The flickr membership is eloquent and persistent. Last look there were in excess of 20,000 complaints. The usual marketing rule of thumb is 1 – 3 percent feedback this translates into approximately 1 million upset users. That number is known and it’s one that has their attention. They may put on a game face but this is a huge number.
    • yahoo told mayer she is the CEO because a) she’s from Google, b) she danced well in front of their executives, c) she got the suits of yahoo to believe her and they agreed she had “the right stuff”
    • the yahoo execs have no elfin’ clue about flickr or tumblr. If they did they wouldn’t have approved the outrageous purchase price for a 10 wonder like instagram. They also don’t know anything because if they did they wouldn’t have agreed the idea of melding flickr to tumblr was going to work better than just improving both separately
    • Getty Images must be on the phone daily asking wtf is going on. Uploads from flickr users are down for sure. They live off flickr uploads. Cheap tasty photographs, it’s like a drug for Getty. They’re going to get frantic. Their cash flow projections must be going into the toilet. Yahoo please get ready to talk to Getty lawyers
    • The opt out of pro accounts is going smoothly. This is highly unusual. This means they’ve already priced the cost of a massive estimated departure and they have convinced the suits at yahoo it’s not a problem and part of the new implementation process. This must be a pretty large number now based on the chatter I’ve seen at flickr and its not abating.
    • many users are now ‘poisoned’ they’re not sure if they should come back to the playing field. They’re unable to navigate, the comment box is not for them it’s for ‘tweens’ to write “rad” “wow” “partaaayy” and that’s all the comment box holds. Write a sentence and it’s not visible, a whole paragraph is no longer anticipated. Who writes a sentence some kind of author? A paragraph. Some pointy headed intellectual? Internally I’m sure flickr / yahoo suits asked if they couldn’t do away with comments totally.
    • uploads are hard to find because we now have a ‘no alt viewing option’ “justified live feed” photo stream. I now see a contact who uploads 5 shots at one time followed by another of 7 shots followed by comments followed by one, then… You get the picture. The former “contact sheet” view format where your contact activity of 7 images was behind one visible photograph as a contact sheet image is now not an option. It was for one day but it didn’t work. It’s now gone from the control panel governing desktop views.
    • this site is now either designed by ADHD people, aimed at ADHD people or some combination of the two. It’s busted big time. It works like a lot of broken things but it’s not capable any longer. this is being driven by, “the lust for bux”. the true holy grail of all companies. It’s not enough I order a burger. It’s “we want you to have fries with that”. If you order fries it’s “we want you to supersize that fries order”. No one can just do a job they have to jump higher each time or they’re on notice. So everyone in the company lies to the bosses and the bosses are stupid enough to think everyone’s in line with the model, customers, employees, managers are all marching forward to the bright future of more dollars for shareholders. That’s the mantra and that’s the lie.
    • Speed.. everyone wants speed because flickr/yahoo/flickr is in the year 2013 not 1990 with dial up modems but Yahoo won’t spend money on hardware, servers and so the kludgy, slow load ups and refreshes of 10 seconds to over 30 seconds and finally “hold your clicks” … Everyone knows the problem but the shareholder worshipers say “that’s good enough” they don’t need better refresh rates. No need to spend on hardware today. Besides we’re going to be selling this dog to some sucker investors when we monetize these photographs thru an IPO. Then it’s their problem. Let them deal with it.
    • So the messages are clear. On both sides there is a wait and see. Flickr hopes like hell that this great plan will unfold and lead to ‘money for free’. The customer base hopes that things may improve but are visiting way less and as a result uploading less. These two things are now clearly visible. The problem is people are moving away but Flickr’s wunderkind can’t backtrack because that’s not how it works or yahoo suits will fire. So management is prepared to go down with the ship. The suits can’t figure this out because they know if you whip them harder they jump higher. But they’ve figured it out wrong and the value they currently hold in flickr / tumblr is at risk.
    • Roll the dice yahoo / flickr because that’s what you’re really doing.
    • If I’m going to gamble I’d rather visit Vegas. Yahoo should have too.

    I could write more but enough is enough about this dead fish.

    • vfm4 says:

      i have been protesting for a week and i can tell you there are way more than 20.000 complaints, last i saw was more than 28.000 and there were more but they removed several…

      ¨are you looking for help? no?¨
      and 10 munites later you come back and your comment is gone..

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  • Julian says:

    Thanks for writing this, you’ve put more clearly what I’ve been posting furiously in flickr.

    More thoughts, some random and some responses…

    1. “What Yahoo failed to realize is that Flickr doesn’t share the same market with Instagram”. I’m sure they do realise but don’t ‘care’ which is to say, are happy to tolerate that and its consequences in view of the greater benefits.

    2. one view of it is that the crux of the matter for yahoo is the difference between ‘a community’ and ‘the community’. The existing flickr, ‘a community’, is (despite the official stats) perhaps a million involved people – in fact maybe only 100,000 really active folk. You can make a very rough estimate of this by counting the number of times someone you know pops up in some unconnected context, say, on explore or in a thread unrelated to you or anyone you know.

    On the other hand, ‘the community’ is potentially hundreds of millions. It’s a pretty big difference and you can see clearly what their objective is (as you mentioned).

    3. so the thing that hurts is that flickr has morphed from a service that was used and beloved by, say, 100,000 true believers (~= ‘pro’ members) into something unrecognisable, something designed for a different demographic. That in itself is not the tragedy, the tragedy is that flickr have not allowed for these true believers in any way. True believers have (so far) just been trashed, sacrificed.

    4. there’s a few things I can think of that Yahoo might have up their sleeve or that we can suggest:

    a) creation of a new service that works like the old flickr, call it ‘flickr pro’ or ‘flickr-fof’ (flickr for old farts) or whatever, but reinstate the tools that allowed the kind of discussion and thought that true believers were involved in.

    b) gradually reinstating options into new flickr that allow people to set it up to work like old flickr, or even an improved old flickr.

    c) merge flickr and tumblr and then use the old flickr infrastructure to launch a new ‘pro’ service as in a).

    d) when flickr and tumblr are merged, somehow providing a service-within-a service that appeals to people like us and might also provide the added fucntionality of tumblr if we want it.

    e) funding the development of, say, ipernity until it matches the services of old flickr, and then providing a transfer tool that lets us transfer EVERYTHING including social stuff like comments. In fact they could offer some of their ‘old’ technology to ipernity as a goodwill gesture.

    f) wait for other providers to come up with a service like what flickr used to provide. This is unsatisfactory because there’s no such provider yet (ipernity still lacks many flickr features as you can tell by their low growth and popularity) and because we’ll still lose our existing history, social stuff and contacts even if we move our photos.

    5. The trouble with my nice solutions is that everything that yahoo/flickr are doing indicates they don’t feel any obligation to their old true believers at all, that they are willing to sacrifice them rather than cater for them. The new subscriptions and calculated infuriation seem designed to make people cancel their subs in protest and go elsewhere. As many are doing. This wouldn’t be so if they had any intention of catering for T ‘pro. members. The whole thing is structured to get rid of them, not keep them around until they can be satisfied. This is the betrayal that I see.

    No account seems to be taken of the implied promise to keep a service for their old subscribers, to keep the features and facilities that we paid for.

    6. From which point of view I think our best action is to focus on the betrayal and consequential loss of trust in Yahoo, and hopefully convince them that it’s in their best interests to do something to cater for old ‘pros’.

    7. Marissa is definitely from the ephemeral-content, high turnover, bling is best generation. She’s welded to her mobile gear (which has been her sole contribution to flickr, for example). I wonder sincerely how much of the problem is just that she and other decision makers don’t even understand the motivations of current ‘pros’. Hard to tell whether her rampant enthusiasm for the new look is genuine delight (In which case we are doomed because she makes the big decisions and she won’t understand our pov) or just PR imperative (in which case we might be doomed because it means all this has been considered and weighed up and, from current observation, decision made to abandon ‘pros’).

    8. What I’m trying to say is that yahoo flickr obviously don’t care about keeping their old flickr pro customers. What remains to be seen is whether they feel any need to keep faith with these people and the community in general by looking after them somehow, or whether thay have decided to abandon them and their 7-year investments entirely.

    PS I’ve wondered too about what Getty might be thinking.

    PS The last thing anyone should do is cash in their pro subscription, this just releases flickr from any obligation and fits their possible plans by appearing to cater for pro members fairly, whereas it doesn’t at all since if you leave flickr you lose all your invested time, presentations, discussions and contacts. Keep your pro accounts!

  • Donna says:

    Interesting article and comments. Will Flickr be around in the future? I don’t know; but, I’ve seen these kinds of changes happening at many websites. I had an account with where I could edit photos and share or not share as I saw fit. But, chose to phase out and replace it wit To use it effectively, you almost need a smartphone or tablet and the appropriate app.

    For years, I had a hotmail email account. It was classic and served my purpose. But, even though my email address stayed the same, the interface known as is something that would be better suited for a device instead of a desktop computer.

    I’m still using Yahoo Classic, which will be ending come June 3. From the images I have seen of the new Yahoo email, it looks like it’s going to be like

    So, a couple days ago, I go to thinking I would see my familiar page with all my photos on it; but, that’s not what I found. I thought I had accidentally gone to

    Something else that tells me that these people like Marissa, Bill, and others think the future is in tablets and smartphones. Windows 8. It doesn’t have a start button/menu. Well, we found a way to get one; but, I swear, the Metro interface is so much like what my friend has on her iPad and iPhone. Even my son says it looks like the menu of the xBox 360.

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  • ludwigvan66 says:

    Great write-up. My thoughts exactly. Screw Flickr…….I’m moving to Ipernity.

  • Fumblr? Agreed with all points in article BTW

  • Jerry Waese says:

    many of us have gone to ipernity
    curious about the huge investment we have made in sets of images, collections of sets (unsupported in the new flickr), and a fine balance of contacts and groups. But If I send someone to flickr and they get some push ads, it is no longer the act of intention that I have worked for.
    granted 25$ per year was cheap, not open source cheap, but cheap enough to keep doing for 8 years, and now they made it crappy

    • Newton says:

      Flickr is one of the few places where I actually felt compelled to gift people a membership. People I often didn’t know. Just enjoyed their work. That says a lot about the community aspect. Something that apparently is lost on the big wigs at Yahoo.

    • Bill Benzon says:

      Actually, collections ARE supported, believe it or not. I had to search through their new help/FAQ to find out where and how, and even after they told me where to go I had to fumble around. So, I’m glad they’re still around, really glad. But I’m not at all happy about how the overall redesign made lots of things worse.

  • One word: Ipernity.

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  • Archie says:

    It’s telling that Flickr uploads will be integrated into Apple’s next iOS release, and Flickr is pushing the Android and iPhone apps. You’re dead right, Newton: Flickr wants to be Instagram, and to sell user eyeballs to advertisers for megabucks. And it wants teens and twenties – the group advertisers drool over: the ones with loads of money and no commitments.

    So when Marissa said there were no pro photographers any more, so Flickr didn’t need Pro accounts, what she appears to have meant was that Flickr was no longer going to be a place where pro photographers would want to be. Well, that was honest, eh?So a lot of folks have gone to 500px.

    Is it likely that Flickr will be a brand that ‘teens and twenties’ will gravitate towards? I have my doubts!

  • Kenneth Coates says:

    Absolutely frightening stuff. I can only hope some
    lessons have been or are being learned from this
    absolute debacle.

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  • I have used the new Flickr for a week, and although I am getting used to it, I don’t like it! My main complaint is that the slide show cuts off the upper and lower edges of my carefully cropped photos. Also many of the searches don’t work correctly any more. Plus the new cropping on the Title photos of the sets…Actually I could go on at some length, but the slideshow is the biggest pissoff!!! (Flickr member since 2006, with 25,000 photos)

  • ausfi says:

    .There are many features I will never like and I have joined Ipernity but I am not going to send all my photos there, only new ones. I cannot leave the groups I have started. I have a blog where I have written at least 17 articles on this, also quoting many other people.

  • Pierre says:

    My suggestion would be to stop posting on Flickr for a few days!

  • S Kirk says:

    excellent piece

  • First class piece – I couldn’t believe that Flickr is trying to persuade me to *stop* paying them $25 a year! Mad.

    • Newton says:

      It’s truly bizarre. I think that’s the most disheartening thing. They took the power away from their paying customer base. They just don’t care. Leave, stay, they’re already rejecting your money.

  • Great article! It expresses just how I feel too.

  • Norm Stephens says:

    Great article! I’m moving to Ipernity … as close to old Flickr as I can find and they have scripts for moving photos over from Flickr. I’m thinking the way to handle Flickr is to quit uploading full resolution images. Upload only 100 KB images … and Flickr will then look like Pinterest!

  • Sarah says:

    Funny thing, am trying to post a link on Facebook to your insightful dialog but it won’t let me, I smell a conspiracy… :o)

  • Kell says:

    Great article! I find it funny that around Christmas time they were giving all of the pro members 3 extras months for free. So all the pro accounts renewed right before they changes everything.

  • Alan H says:

    Very well written and informative piece – my sentiments exactly. I’ve brought 9, very good photographers to the site and we’ve all shared and learnt in equal measures – yet we now expect to be inundated with pictures of drunks in fancy dress.

  • PaulDD says:

    “What was once painless navigation, is now just a myriad of massive images and odd little hidden areas where you have to click through screen after screen, hoping to find what was once a simple text link”

    Thats Yahoo for you ever tried changing Your Yahoo Password? I needed a Youtube video to explain where to find what I needed to change for just this reason. Listen up Yahoo it why you are dead in the water when compared to the other Internet Giants

  • Ilse Batten says:

    Thank you for this very lucid article. You have hit the nail on the head.

  • Flickr Refugge on Ipernity now says:

    I had an extensive collection of aerial photos I’ve shot from airplanes and helicopters, going back decades (hey, I’m a senior citizen, but started making movies when I was 4 years old) and what I liked about the “old” Flickr was the simplicity and clean design of their layout. I had just renewed my Pro account on May 16, and without notice to those of us who were on the cusp of renewal, they pull this stunt called “New Flickr” which I am saying is as big of a booboo as when Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” in 1985 (and I doubt any of you “younguns” here had a chance to sample that nasty flop/failure which prompted Coke to come out with “Coke Classic”…. Both New Coke and Coke Classic are gone, and they reverted to the flavor that generations have loved since day one.

    Flickr will never offer “Flickr Classic” or go back to their original layout, because the new Yahoo CEO will not admit the error, in order to save face.

    This blunder on behalf of Yahoo is very much like the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”
    Everybody and his brother knows the naked truth about New Flickr.

    I embrace change… Heck, I own a Chevrolet Volt (how radical is that) but in the case of New Flickr, this isn’t change “change for the good” it is “change for the goof.”

  • Flickr Refugee on Ipernity now says:

    I hadn’t had my morning cup of coffee and my above rant should have been posted as “Flickr Refugee”

    And yes, I really am an old man who drives a Volt…

  • GeniiLocorum says:

    Perfect analysis. Time will tell if Mayers idea was good or bad. I am off anyway.

  • Lina Asp says:

    So well written!
    I left flickr for ipernity pretty fast after the 5/20 disaster. Not going back, not even if they offer options to use the old layout. They have told their loyal users in so many words what they think of us. Happy death, flickr!

  • Martin says:

    Great article, I applaud your words and truthful writing.
    I used Flickr for 5 years, I LOVED old Flickr, the people, the new friends, learning, sharing, it increased my standards of photography and knowledge. The first thing I would do every day is look at my flickr account, comment on some great shots and share the enjoyment we all had.

    I at first let the update slide, thinking its just me, I hate it. Its awful, WHY???? then when i read about the bucket group people and how all and any questions have been ignored, then I hear anyone who posted on a complaint group would be banned from Flickr and it goes on and on…. My blood boiled, her ignorance and blatant I couldn’t give a damn about anyone just me and what I want tipped me over the top. I refuse to be any part of her making money or becoming a success, her attitude is AWFUL why on earth anyone from old flickr would want to be a part of her… well I do not. I a fit of rage and fury I deleted everything on Flickr. Her actions made me furious for two days solid, what they have done to our brilliant, fun, friendly very effective website is beyond excuse.

    I HUGELY regret losing my friends and brilliant people on flickr who I learnt so much from, shared time with, met and enjoyed. I am deeply upset by the whole thing. I don’t think I have EVER been so angry in all my life. Something so perfect (to me), the few rays of glimmer in these difficult times flickr gave me reason to look forward to every day a little bit more and enjoy sharing on old Flickr. It was a true group of friends sharing and enjoying what we loved to do. That, taken away from us overnight is one of the worst things to happen, ever. It is such a HUGE loss.

    I’m still reeling from it all. I’m selling a lot of my camera gear. I’ll find something else……

    Its so sad.

  • I too have so many issues with the new flickr. My first was finding the mail. Look in all the obvious places and it isn’t there. How was I to guess that scrolling over the buddy icon on the right is the only place to find your flickr mail. And, sorry but I have never been a fan of ‘on black’ for any but a few images. For me it destroys the subtlety especially of bw and light toned images.

  • J Gwen Ingram says:

    Flickr (Fumblr!) now a victim of the New Marketing Truth — screw everyone that’s not ADHD and under 30; the rest will die soon anyway (but not soon enough, so sell them poison and call it “”medicine”). Martin Guitar (in business for 180 years now) has bought into the same thing in the last few years. It’s rampant There’s no money in quality, just in locating the brain-washable masses and parasitizing them with their consent and assistance (ADHD sure helps there); money, of course, is everything and profit trumps all. Dealing with complaints is easy … isolate each complainer and tell them they’re in the minority.

    The lack of ability to get around Flickr’s chosen format is really the kicker. I now have a choice to spend more time on Flickr to get the same information out of it … or less. Well, I don’t have more time, so plan on less!

    Not being one to make sweeping changes overnight on limited input and THEN see what happens (like Flickr just did!), I’m doing my own research as well as waiting to see what my respected friends on Flickr find as a photo-community alternative so I can take my time and make a GOOD decision (unlike Flickr). I compose most of my photos with thought. I want my photo community to be the same.

    Thanks for putting this page up.

  • Victoria says:

    Excellent article and completely represents my views on what’s happening. It’s now so frustrating trying to navigate around that I’m not sure I’ll be bothering for long. And it’s a damn shame because it was the one site where you could be sure of supportive and interested comments rather than abuse. I WANT THE OLD FLICKR BACK!
    I agree with a number of the comments above including the one about photos being shown “on black”. Good for some but “on white” is better for others.
    I hear Ipernity is pretty good so may go over there. Just seems such a shame to destroy such a great community that was Flickr.

  • Howard Morland says:

    There seems to be a flood of outrage and disappointment over these changes, but has anybody heard anything at all from the company? I hear the new CEO, Marissa Mayer, picked up a cool $36 million as a signing bonus. I guess that kind of money can make one deaf.

  • Jeff says:

    Like others, I too deleted my account. Mayer says they won’t screw up tumblr? Hah!

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  • r.s says:

    A very well written article.
    After three weeks away in the photo-heaven of Ladakh , I thought I’d post some of the photos on flickr, as I’ve usually done after my trips elsewhere. But logging in today was like opening the gates of a junk garage.
    Appending ?details=1 to photostream url helps a bit, but the new default look is revolting enough to cure my love for flickr after one or two uploads.

  • Para v0s says:

    So, and how are we doing today??? No more flickr news? It’s all settled in and no more complaints? Looks like yahoo did a good job then.

  • Wolf says:

    In several years there will be people who ask ” What was the name of the company you could post photos- they were realy successfull but there was something they did or did not do and they were gone- can’t remember but I think it starter with an F….”

  • JH says:

    Well, I’ve been on Flickr since 2005 and have had a pro account for most of that time. I’m an illustrator and used it as a fast-and-easy gallery, and made a lot of great friends through the networking aspects of the site. But the redesign renders the site completely useless to me…less than useless, since it allows no control over how I present my images. Things are cropped, resized, presented out of order, etc. Today I deleted everything except for some personal family pics (marked private) and will start looking for alternatives.

  • Fred Farkle says:

    Excellent article! You summarized my feelings exactly. I’m so bummed out about the new interface. It’s beyond terrible. All in the name of greed. Such a shame.

    I’ve barely touched my flickr account since the new “interface” came online. I did go in and hide my photos so Mayer can’t profit off me while the new mess remains in effect. So sad to be without flickr.

  • mr. breeze says:

    the yahoo “corporate development” team has squandered yet another yahoo resource. without doubt the most obtuse people in the valley.

  • I hate this new fad of “infinite scrolling” thing. It seems that yahoo tries to implement this on every one of their services out there. Yahoomail has also been automatically “upgraded” to “infinite scrolling”. I just don’t get it. Unless you can make your page load fast like pinterest, don’t even think about infinite scrolling your whole network of sites! I don’t know what yahoo is thinking!!

    • Newton says:

      I hate infinite scrolling and yeah it’s bogging down Yahoo Mail as well.

    • Scott says:

      I agree. This “infinite scrolling” is the worst of several things I dislike about the new Flickr. When I click on a Flickr user to view their Photostream or Favorites it seems to take forever to load images.

  • Dave says:

    Love the comments been a user for 10 years but I believe Flickr is dead. I never was a heavy user so my complaints are late but I am a huge audio junkie, and Yahoo destroyed that and never looked back. They purchased Musicmatch and said they were going to make it popular again?? Really?? Really?? Again they destroyed it no apology… I believe they will do the same with Flickr and Flickr will flow down the sewer just like Musicmatch.. It is really sad, and just think the CEO made a lot of money driving many loyal people away.

  • Dave C says:

    After working all day trying to get software to function, it was nice to come home, upload some photos and look at the work of others. This new interface is slow and generally frustrating. My biggest complaint: Change is bad. That’s right: when you change a user interface for the sake of change, people cannot leverage their experience, and they are back to square one. I’m doubly upset because I paid good money for use of a good website. I’m no longer getting value for my money because flickr is treating paying customers with contempt. I’m sorry to see that they have jumped on the dumbing-down bandwagon.

  • David says:

    I think there is something here we are all missing . You may all call me crazy but I think there is a money making scheme behind this. Flickr is trying to force some of us to upgrade to a more powerful server or maybe a more powerful PC. Quite possible for a kickback from the broadband providers and PC manufacturers!!! Gathering Evidence Now.
    I’ve got quite a bit alredy. In the mean time I say F—–Them

  • Mel says:

    The last time I checked, in order to access all my old photo uploads (going back to 2007) I have to PAY 50 bucks. Otherwise, all I can see is the last hundred or so photos I uploaded to my Flickr account. I have three professional photog friends. They are even more pissed off about this than I am. I’m going to pay the stupid fee so I can then access all my old pics, download their high-res versions and copy them all onto a HDD or similar. And then I’m going to delete my Flickr acct. What they did in their greed, haste and mismanagement was destroy a perfectly happy online community. 🙁

  • Stephen Weir says:

    I abhor the new Flickr. I believe that it previously allowed space for a great artistic forum, for photographers of all types to develop their aesthetic and to explore the narrative of individual images. Apart from that consideration, the social interaction based on being able to focus on a limited range of images and comment on them was wonderful. The point about exif data and other photographic technicalities is now buried in a confusing interface.
    Frankly, visiting Flickr now is like going to an art gallery where all the paintings are hung together without any space between them. It’s awful.It is all about the valorization of the inconsequential snapshot and the denigration of the photograph.
    At the very least, the imbeciles who made these decisions lack any artistic sensibility. Theirs was a commercial imperative only. It is the triumph of bureaucracy over individuality, monolithic enterprise over art, materialism over soul and consciousness and bland conformity over unique expression.

  • Robert B. Livingston says:

    I quit Flickr just before the big change as I already was displeased with it. It was difficult saying goodbye, especially after having spent so much time and effort at the site.
    Now I am completely glad I quit– and now realize how it is all the time invested which keeps its users hostages. I feel free now– and wish to create my own on- line gallery– which is more exciting!
    I cannot view Flickr contacts anymore– the site is just too slow, and I have a decent speed connection.
    It is ugly too. Seems like everyone is redesigning the web to be viewed on a cellphone. Yech!
    Oh well… live and learn.

  • Lois Gloor says:

    I’ve been dis-liking the newly redesigned Flickr for some time now, until tonight I couldn’t even find my own photostream after viewing a friends, so I clicked the feedback button. I was amazed at the plethora of negative feedback. I added my negative votes, but is there no way to get Flickr to listen? I’m beginning to hate “hip” and “cool”. I love functional and workable and useful and “real”.

  • John says:

    And now, a year later, Flickr is even worse than an year ago. I need a new, serious photographer site.

  • Cow Photography Inc says:

    Try Smugmug or Squarespace. They make money the normal way, by charging for good products that help us, the customer.

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  • Nathan M says:

    Sadly I gave up on Flickr in July 2013. It was run into the ground. Marissa Mayer will not do it any better either. She is to Yahoo whet Meg Whitman was to e-Bay. An utterly incompetent bimbo (Meyer’s and Whitman’s) thrust into a position of authority who don’t have a clue.

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  • grumpyoldman says:

    Flickr was perfectly usable on my netbook on 4G before, then they turned it into the exact opposite, it takes ages to load any page or image, no way to do anything else than just loading stuff, they stopped supporting my browser and the layout is just so overloaded with idiotic Flash crap, totally broken on my browser and it never catered for small (7-10 inch) screens anyway. I just use it once a year now with my cellphone to share a pic because it’s conveniient, otherwise Flickr has been coded to death by wannabe web2.0 wizards, like so many other sites..

  • Carlo Montoya says:

    I just use Flickr to dump photos of things I’m selling in forums that don’t allow image uploads directly. This is a perfect example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Just right now, both Chrome and IE aren’t even showing my album, the progress meter just keeps on going and going and going …

  • Stimpy says:

    I just opened a Flickr account, lured by the promise of a terabyte of storage. I just wanted a private vault where I could store the many thousands of photos I have taken over the years. The user interface is absolutely awful. Completely non-intuitive. Downloading broke down constantly. After two hours of struggling with this gawdawful mess, I deleted my account. Flickr is one of the worst internet experiences I’ve ever had. Ugh.

  • Erwin says:

    Something interesting: Open Task Manager > Performance Tab. Log on to Flickr and watch the graph of your resources consumed .

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