Tag Archives: flickr

Hot Take: The Great Flickr Purge

Yahoo was never sure what to do with Flickr after they bought it. And when they realized they’d missed the smartphone revolution, they tried to make it into something it wasn’t suited for (an Instagram equivalent) and couldn’t sustain (cloud storage for ALL your photos!)

I remember when they panicked over Instagram and the best they could come up with was adding filters, as if that was the key feature that made it take off. (Filters were just a way of covering up the fact that phone cameras of the day were still pretty terrible.) And I remember when Facebook started asking you to auto-upload every single photo to their app in case you wanted to post it later, and suddenly everyone wanted you to auto-upload your photos. Facebook, Google+, and of course Flickr.

But Flickr has a different social structure than Instagram, and being cloud storage for every last picture takes a lot of resources. Maybe chasing Facebook and Instagram kept them alive for a while, but it put them in a bind down the road.

I don’t think Yahoo has ever understood what made Flickr resonate with the people who liked it back in the day, or those of us who stuck with it. They considered closing Flickr several times. And Verizon clearly didn’t want it, since they were happy to sell it to SmugMug.

It sucks that they’re deleting photos to push free accounts into the new limits, but SmugMug taking the site back to basics might make it viable long-term. Maybe now they can work on being a first-rate Flickr instead of a third-rate Instagram or fourth-rate Facebook Photos.

Why I have more confidence in Flickr/SmugMug than Tumblr/Verizon

Last month, Tumblr and Flickr both announced policy changes that will impact a lot of users, and upset even more. Flickr announced that they’d be shrinking the storage offered to free accounts while adding features to paid accounts. Tumblr announced that all adult content was going to be banned, and immediately set about flagging posts and accounts. In the clumsiest way possible. With a lot of errors.

I feel like Tumblr has been knocked out of orbit, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes the way of GeoCities (or at least LiveJournal). But I actually feel more confident about Flickr. Why?

  • Flickr was bought by SmugMug, a company that’s all about photos. Tumblr was part of the Yahoo! package bought by Verizon, a giant telecom conglomerate that’s searching for a way to monetize users’s content.
  • Flickr has had a freemium business model as long as I can remember.
  • The new free tier at Flickr may be limited, but it’s still big (1000 photos), and it’s still more than they offered before the move to “Let’s get people to host ALL their pictures here!” a few years back (200 photos, IIRC).
  • And that limit is both clear and non-judgmental, not a fuzzy, badly-implemented line that on other social media sites has frequently turned out to be the first step down a slippery slope (like the “Strikethrough” episode at LiveJournal that ultimately led to a lot of fanfic writers and fan artists leaving LJ in favor of, well, Tumblr.)
  • Flickr’s customers are the paying Flickr Pro users. Tumblr’s customers are the advertisers.

In short: Flickr is focusing on their core. Tumblr just jettisoned a huge segment of their users and gave the rest a big red warning flag.

I’ve been a paying Flickr customer for years now, and I’m happy to renew. I still post galleries there, and and my better one-off photos.

Tumblr…I don’t have anything that violates the new rules, but it seems like they’ve taken a step towards self-destruction. Between this, Google+ closing, and the ongoing train wrecks of Twitter & Facebook, I’ve decided to pull back. I’ve downloaded an archive of my entire blog, and I’m in the process of clearing out all my share-posts, reblogs, mirrored posts, basically anything that’s not either original to that blog or an actual conversation. And I’m starting to import the original content here, where it’s under my own control.

It’s clear that Verizon has even less idea what to do with Tumblr than Yahoo! did. When they finally give up trying to monetize what’s left of the user base, they’ll have no incentive to keep it going. Or to respect all the user data they’ve amassed.

Catching up on photos

Somehow this year has just gotten away from me as far as posting general photos. Oh, I made sure to post albums from events like comic conventions and hiking trips. But the random one-offs and two-fers? I’ve been tossing them up on Instagram, Pixelfed, and/or Mastodon, but I haven’t been maintaining my Flickr gallery.

Part of that is just that this has been a weird year. Part of it, I think, has to do with unexpectedly replacing my phone back in February when my previous phone died without warning. (Almost everything was backed up, at least.)

Whatever the reason, I’ve got eight or nine months of random photos, some just barely interesting enough to share, some really good (IMHO), that I haven’t been curating for Flickr. And the longer I go without posting them, the less it becomes a cool thing to do and the more it becomes a Task To Be Done.

So I sat down tonight after putting the kid to bed, hooked up my camera and my phone to my computer, and started moving and categorizing photos. I eventually got tired of it, but I freed up a lot of space. Even though I’m not quite done with that stage, I went through all the photos I’ve got so far and picked out the ones I want to highlight.

There are enough that I’m breaking them into categories to upload in small batches over the next week or two. If you upload more than three at a time, Flickr will only show the most recent three to your followers. Hopefully they’ll be interesting enough to convince them to click through to the rest of the batch, but I’ve noticed that the top three in a batch always get viewed more than the rest, and always get more feedback. A lot of the more serious photographers I follow won’t even post batches bigger than two or three at a time.

The first batch went up tonight: It’s Los Angeles cityscapes. Continue reading

Flickr vs. Instagram / Who’s in Control?

Social media is a mess these days. Most of us follow too many people and organizations to keep up, so we need some way of narrowing it down…but the tools are typically built into each service, which has different priorities about what it wants you to see than you do. As they say, if you’re not paying, you’re the product.

I realized this is why I still prefer Flickr to Instagram: I’m still in control when I browse Flickr. With Instagram, the best I can do is pick from one firehose or another. Flickr has its issues, but I can find stuff there, and the timeline isn’t re-ordered to suit someone else’s priorities.

Ironically, I post more often on Instagram than on Flickr. Because I like Flickr more, I feel like I should take my time & curate my photos better. But I also end up posting many at a time on Flickr, and single photos on Instagram. I don’t feel like I’m spamming if I post twenty pictures to Flickr, but I do if I post that many* to Instagram.

I mentioned this on Mastodon, and my brother remarked that Flickr feels more like “adding to a collection,” while other sites are more “shoveling things at my friends/followers.” That’s true of most social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Mastodon are all about now. Going back to look at someone’s history feels like an accident. Or stalking.

On Facebook, it would be really weird to go through someone’s old posts and comment on them. On Flickr, that’s totally normal. If Twitter is like shouting into the void, hoping someone will hear you, Flickr is like building a gallery and hoping someone will visit. When someone finally does,** they’ll see it, and look around. But that scream on Twitter is already fading on the wind.

Especially if Twitter thinks your friends would be more interested in seeing a sponsored post instead.

*Instagram does let you post multi-photo stacks, but the stack only ever appears as a unit. Only the cover photo appears in timelines or searches, and the whole stack shares one description and one set of tags. Flickr lets you group photos into albums however you want, and people (including you) can find any individual photo and go from there to the rest of the album.

**Not that Flickr isn’t subject to the siren call of now either, but the long tail still exists there.

Links: Humans.txt, Nighttime Photos, Evaporating Cloud and More

  • Great animation: Scale. What would Mars, Jupiter etc. look like at the same distance as the moon?
  • Very cool! 175 Photos of Day Taken at Night
  • Humans TXT: We Are People, Not Machines. Cool idea, but I’m not sure how practical it is without (ironically, I know) a machine-readable standard. If we can’t get most people to watch the credits on a movie, who’s going to go looking for a text file that’s referenced in a hidden link?
  • The Android Market is finally viewable on the web! I love being able to look for and download an app directly on my phone, but sometimes the desktop environment is just easier to deal with.
  • What happens when the cloud evaporates? Flickr: Too big to fail (We hope?) at ZDNet. (TL;DR case study: Flickr accidentally deleted a photographer’s entire account with 4,000 photos. He had his own copies of the pictures themselves, but all the account structure: links on his blog and elsewhere, titles, descriptions, labels, etc. were lost until they were able to dredge it up out of system backups.)
  • Webcomic SMBC asks: Where’s the ball?
  • Add a fold to any website! “For years our clients have been asking about it and we never were able to give a satisfactory answer. Where is the fold in our web site designs? After all, the content should be above it, right?”
  • Sad balrog has no one left to play with. 🙁