In today's episode of "bloggers take sides on some issue" I present the Flickr Old Skool Debate.

In this corner, weighing in with a growing empire of blogging tools, is SixApart's Anil Dash who says I am okay with my Yahoo sign-in. He argues that this should come as no surprise and that this is really a small dust-up that involves a very minor number of loud people.

In the other corner, weighing in with a photo sharing service of his own, is SmugMug's Don MacAskill who writes about The Dark Side of the Flickr Acquisition. In that post he and offers 50% off to Flickr refugees who sign up for SmugMug and suggests that SmugMug will never be bought because big companies don't "get" users of his site.

Personally, I agree with both of them. This stuff is very tricky.


Posted by jzawodn at January 31, 2007 01:21 PM

Reader Comments
# Joe Zawodny said:

I do not see what all of the hubbub is about with the new flickr login and limits. Using Yahoo to login is obviously setting something up in the near future. Limiting me to *only* 3000 contacts will never be a problem for most people. The 75 tags limit makes a lot of sense. If you have more than 75 tags on a photo, it is pretty clear you have no idea what tags are about.

Smugmug has realized that they are nothing until they get a critical mass of users in their community, but that they'll never get the users without a critical mass to begin with. Where they are screwing up is by offering half price memberships. They should be free for a year along with a free tool to migrate all of their photos, tags, comments, replicate group, ... . It will need to painless otherwise no "mass sponge migration" from flickr to smugmug. ("They moved an inch!" Ghostbusters)

on January 31, 2007 01:53 PM
# Paul Downey said:

I want neither. I want to use *my* openID thank you very much.

on January 31, 2007 01:57 PM
# Gareth Simpson said:

Speaking personally, I'd have been happier if signing up for a Yahoo! account weren't so long winded and intrusive.

That's the only thing that makes this a backward step.

Most of the rest of the 'controversy' is posturing by people who like their 'old skool' cachet such as it is.

on January 31, 2007 02:04 PM
# Darren said:

YAL (yet another login) doesn't please me, but I agree that it's mountains out of molehills.

This is the small downside of building community. The community thinks they own the house they're just renting, and get vocal when you paint the trim the wrong colour.

on January 31, 2007 02:06 PM
# Justin Rudd said:

I agree with both of them. Yahoo! has the right to try to consolidate the number of authentication systems they have. I do think that limiting people to 3000 contacts is a bit extreme. In that sense, they are messing with their best customers.

As for SmugMug, my wife is a user and loves them. I happily pay them each year to reduce the amount of "honey do" items that come up from her taking tons of photos.

And Don mentioned in an update to the original post that there is a tool that will help with migration from Flickr to SmugMug.

on January 31, 2007 02:12 PM
# Niall Kennedy said:

I find a Flickr identity important, but not the logon.

Within the Yahoo! system someone might want to be known as "shutterbug" on Flickr, "damnsexy" on Personals, "highalpha" on Finance, and "MrWizard" on Answers. The faceted identity we present to the world is more important to me than the way admin privs on that identity are determined.

If a product can jettison some excess weight from what may be a legacy feature, I'm all for it. There may be some sentimental attachment to the old ways -- love/hate Flash-powered Flickr for example -- but I want the best possible product.

If Flickr was packaged software people could keep using Flickr 2006 and not upgrade until there were enough compelling new features to offset moving away from established comfort levels.

on January 31, 2007 02:32 PM
# Don MacAskill said:


Actually, we don't really view SmugMug as a community. And that's where we differ a great deal from Flickr. I realize there are fantastic reasons to work on building a communiity, and that's the reason Yahoo bought Flickr in the first place. But that's not something SmugMug is particularly interested in - building a critical mass of users in our community.

When we get customers who are clearly disappointed that we don't have strong community and social networking pieces to our offering, we often send them over to Flickr. They kill us in that regard.

But we also get plenty of ex-Flickr customers who are looking for a better way to present and share their photos. Those people tend to be less interested in social networking and communities. Those are the people we really want.

I think it's only fair to say that I love parts of Yahoo, especially the Yahoo Developer stuff like their APIs and YUI, including Flickr. I just wish the corporation wasn't so corporate sometimes. The news post announcing the new changes at Flickr, for example, seemed devoid of any sort of personality. Very different than Caterina's Flickr news posts of old.


on January 31, 2007 02:46 PM
# Steve Kirks said:

I was an "old skool" user and nervously followed the instructions to merge my existing Yahoo! account. Guess what? The world did not explode and no kittens died. People on Flickr still know me as "warwick" and I have one less set of credentials to use.

Now, if I didn't have a sign on with Yahoo!, I might understand the trepidation, but what's the point? The terms of the service have changed and the market has alternatives--move if you don't like it.

on January 31, 2007 03:08 PM
# Pooya Karimian said:

I am fine with having a single ID to login to different Yahoo sites. Specially that Yahoo, unlike Google, don't automatically log you on everywhere one to you login to one site. But my problem with Yahoo is that the support is very unhelpful against identity theft and also when it comes to viruses and phishing. I have my current yahoo ID from 1997 and I am a proud user. The problem is that I don't remember what I set my secret question to be 10 years ago. Now, there's no way I can change that secret question. Yahoo asks for the current secret question (exact wording, even it's case sensitive!). Even though all the account information shows that it is me. Now think of having a single account to login everywhere and the chance of losing it because of a mistake.

on January 31, 2007 03:17 PM
# Dom said:

I can see why Yahoo are doing what they're doing, but I can't see myself using Flickr again after the switchover. I don't have or want a Yahoo login. I just don't want all the crap that comes with it. I want to log in as *me*. (OpenID would be ideal.)

My PRO membership is expiring anyway - probably a good time to find a new place.

on January 31, 2007 03:34 PM
# Joe Duck said:

Isn't this a bit like the MBL debate? You've got people using Flickr in ways it really was not intended to be used - basically as a mass marketing tool rather than a pictures/networking/community tool. How many people have 3000+ contacts anyway? How many of those people are using the service in ways that are reasonable?

on January 31, 2007 03:34 PM
# Joe Zawodny said:


I stand corrected. You have found a market segment I personally do not understand, but I wish you all the luck. I see I also missed the migration tool - nice touch or very quick programming. That being strike two for me, I'll shut up for now.

on January 31, 2007 03:38 PM
# Raffy said:

Yet another case of chest-beating users claiming that successful web startups *owe them* for their success. How dare they make a change like this without *their* permission!

I seem to remember an argument like this among top 25 dig submitters a while back, after an algorithm change. Adios, no one remembers who you are anymore.

Of course the userbase has much to do with startup success, as does luck, design, speed, and publicity. But if the site's changes don't affect functionality and the complaints are still this vehement? Well, that's what we call trolling, isn't it?

on January 31, 2007 04:04 PM
# Aaron Wormus said:

Don't get what the whining is about, I migrated over as soon as they were bought by yahoo, and haven't noticed any difference. I have voiced my opinion [1] on the suckage that is the yahoo login system, but this has never effected my use of flickr since the login is completely separate.


on January 31, 2007 07:49 PM
# Michael Gorsuch said:

Limiting contacts is lame. Why do that? Hell, encourage your users to branch out as much as possible. That only means they love your product.

As far as the login system goes, no big deal. Seriously. It was announced forever ago, right? Who cares! Jeez!

on January 31, 2007 08:06 PM
# Pat said:


I feel bad for the folks that feel like they are personally being screwed by this. But you have to understand something, Yahoo isn't out to screw you. Flickr isn't out to screw you. No matter what Time says, it's isn't about you. I know this is hard to understand...but it just isn't.

I know, you feel like you are being sacrificed for the all mighty dollar. Okay, that part is true...but it isn't personal. You're mad because you can't find a Yahoo ID that doesn't involve your last name and 3 digits. Yeah, not really a legitimate complaint. Sorry. It really isn't and you're better off getting over it now, rather than later.

Flickr is a service. It's a commercial service. If Flickr isn't giving you what you want in a paid service, you need to leave. You don't need to make a big stink about it when you do. You just take your money to where you get the service you want. There are more than enough offers at this point. It's been like that for a while. This isn't "Web 2.0" economics. It's just the way it's always been. The fact that you can now announce your intentions on the internets doesn't really change the basic equation.

And, isn't tricky. It isn't. I swear to you it isn't tricky. Flickr is not a family member with a drinking problem that you can't bring yourself to check into rehab. Yahoo isn't an abusive parent. They are companies. They aren't your friends.

Stop. Thinking. That. Way.

Things get easier when you get past that.

on January 31, 2007 11:25 PM
# BillyWarhol said:

Interesting Post*

I'm more concerned with Flickr Censorship & the way they treat Artists & others like second class citizens* If it weren't for those people Flickr would just be another Boring Photography site*

Cheers! Billy ;))


on January 31, 2007 11:28 PM
# Volcane said:

Actually yahoo is out to screw you, they used photos with CC licences that did not allow commercial use on a commercial site without consent of the Flickr users they stole the photos from:

It's this kind of thing that makes people miss trust Yahoo, and rightly so.

on February 1, 2007 01:02 AM
# Don MacAskill said:


I actually didn't know that migration tool existed until after I wrote my blog post. Someone else found it and let me know. :)

The joys of open APIs. Since we have one, and Flickr has one, magic is bound to happen. :)

on February 1, 2007 01:14 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

"We'll never be bought" sounds like he's daring Google to come knocking with their wallet open.

on February 1, 2007 05:46 AM
# Pat said:


"Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence." --Napoleon Bonaparte

I don't mean to call the Wii team incompetent, I just want to point out that immediately playing the evil card may not always be appropriate. We have to see the whole board here. Yes, Yahoo is ultimately responsible for team actions. Yahoo will not stop all mistakes. What does matter is how does Yahoo (or any company, big or small) deal with fixing that mistake. In the case of the miss-use of CC images, they were notified and stopped using images with NC licenses.

I have to admit that I look at this problem from the technical viewpoint and from there it makes a lot of sense. I have to deal with integrating enterprise systems all day and having read the incredibly open posts about how and why things are happening, I would want to do the same thing. So I honestly don't see it as an issue, especially when it's quite trivial to take your ball and go home.

But really..."evil?" Do we have to use it when we talk about websites and services? It just doesn't give you much room to maneuver. Say Flickr shut down their API endpoints and manipulated all photos to have the words "ALL HAIL SATAN" in big flaming letters. What do you say then? "Look, they're being *more* evil now!" That's just silly.

on February 1, 2007 07:15 AM
# Volcane said:


Sure Evil is overused but I blame google for that, tech people know whats it means in the context.

Anyway, lets see yahoo do the right thing, lets seem them pay those users whose private property they stole to make advertising $ pay them market stock photo rates, lets see them appologise publicly AND pay those users, lets see them compensate those users with free Flickr Pro accounts, lets see them even contact the affected users at flickr with a personal non automated appology note, any one of these will be extraordaniry for Yahoo to do and I won't be holding my breath.

on February 1, 2007 07:50 AM
# said:

I'm waiting for Yahoo to finally dump the old yahoo photos and make flickr the new

Why does Yahoo *still* have 2 competing products. This makes no sense. Nor I have heard anyone from Yahoo make sense of it.

on February 1, 2007 08:58 AM
# Pat said:

"The right thing" sounds like something you just arbitrarily made up. It might make you happy, but who is to say it would be right for somebody else? Oh wait, a judge! Yes, it turns out that there is an entire legal structure setup to handle this very situation. Looking at the Wii Yahoo site, they would probably have a strong fair use argument...but then I'm not a expert on copyright law. If a judge did find in the users favor, they would get a heck of a lot more than a pro account. Copyright infringement fines can be quite steep.

Oh, and "tech people" also get annoyed when important words have their meaning diminished from being used gratuitously or too often. Just sayin'...

I'm not trying to convince you that you should like what is going on, just that it's not evil by any stretch of the imagination.

on February 1, 2007 10:03 AM
# Daniel said:

@ regarding the
I really hope that yahoo doesn't try to rebrand Flickr as Yahoo photos. While it usually blows over, I think it wouldn't work out with a service as insanely popular as Flickr.

As to the issue of this post, I don't understand what the big deal is. The limits are more than reasonable, and a yahoo login is not a problem. I don't use any other yahoo services at the moment, but a Yahoo Id wasn't hard to create. I will join the throng though, and say that I wish I could have just used my OpenID.

on February 1, 2007 11:30 AM
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