Flickr_logo_gammagifv1 I just received this notification that my "Old Skool" Flickr account is going to be migrated to Yahoo either by choice (I can change it by March 15th) or they'll just do it for me.

Fine, whatever, I think it's lame as I liked having my old sign in not tied to Yahoo but borgs will be borgs. The interesting part is they say:

"...95% of your fellow Flickrites already use this system and their experience is just the same as yours is now, except they sign in on a different page...."

If 5% of my audience, die hards from the early days (the ones who told friends who told friends), had decided on doing something a particular way and did not change for several years after being give a choice to—I just don't think I'd have the guts to email them telling them they were no longer allowed to make that choice.

Maybe 5% is an acceptable number, I really don't know how many users there are but 5% seems enormous to me.

I've never managed a user base the size of Flickr, but I'd have trouble clicking "send" to 5% of my "Old Skool" peeps if I was them.

I dont' think anyone will care about this on March 16th, but it's that initial communication and the following weeks where people will gripe and be annoyed at having to join or else, it really does feel like a bummer.

Also, Monday morning quarter-backing: They should have rolled out these new awesome features and said, “Sorry, your account can’t access them because it uses Yahoo API’s tied into login. Wanna switch?” Of course, knowing nothing about the infrastructure or time constraints ($) this probably wasn't an option, still, I wouldn't have felt so bummed about it.



Being the person who actually pushed the "send button" (aka ran the shell script) it was a little terrifying.


This bothered me too, moreso because it was so flippant.

Oh, hey, they said "old skool!" And they spelled it with a K! That makes this so much less grating.

If you're forcing me to do something I don't want to in order to continue using the service I've already paid for, at least treat me like an adult.

Matt Haughey

I noticed they used "kewl" as well in the message which for as much as I love flickr, really came off as lame and not in the ironic hip "using such lame terminology that it's actually cool" but in the actual real lame way.


This bothers me more than I'd expected (after all, I knew this was coming ever since they announced the Y! acquisition), and I'm not quite sure why.

I'm no fan of Yahoo, but I guess as long as Y! was kept nicely submerged beneath the goodness that was Flickr and its interface, I could put it out of my mind. But now I'm forced to pull the trigger and formally link my content with a company that I trust less in order to keep the same functionality.

I migrated, and I think you're right, Andre, that no one will care about this on 3/16. I trust Stewart and Caterina and Heather and all the Flickrfolk when they say that everything will behave exactly the same except for the way logins work, because I hold them in high esteem. But I don't necessarily trust the people above them -- as brownpau points out, the Y! track record is a little scary.

I'm surprised (I guess that's not surprising) by how much this bothers people. I mean, I can't imagine there were *any* old skool Flickr users who didn't have a Yahoo login. So why the fuss?

I mean, I definitely see "I shouldn't have to change anything unless there's a benefit to me" (i.e. features), but the people who have a vague sense of unease -- what causes it? Is there some logical part, or is this all more a "It doesn't feel right" thing?


That's a damn good question, Anil, and Stewart asked a similar question in the mammoth Flickr Forums thread about the merge. (One that's full of histrionics, hysteria, and FUD from people who haven't been paying attention and see the worst in everything.)

And I don't know the answer -- if I knew why this was bugging me, I'd feel a little better about it. Here's some of what I wrote over there:

What worries me isn't my having to use a Y! ID to sign in, or see an ugly login page. (As others have noted at length, I've known that was coming for a while now.) It's feeling like I'm just a little less than a valued member of a true community and just a little more like a resource/customer/target market.

I can't put my finger on any one specific thing (and Stewart, that was a useful question to ask) but I guess what I find jarring is the shift in tone, even if it is but an infinitesimal one. Today marks the first time that to me, Flickr has ever felt like something less than that community I bought into (literally), and more like a service I pay for, however willingly. And that's a sad realization.


it just doesn't feel right. why weren't we forced to do this months ago, from the get go? i feel as if i was strung along. by keeping the login it was a sort of 'yes, we're owned by yahoo now but that doesn't really change anything, really' feeling and now? what exactly are they saying now? it doesn't seem like this makes it easier for anyone except for yahoo.

Rob Drimmie

Actually, Anil, it is kind of surprising. I would think if anyone would know that changing a service is going to bother people it would be you.

I think a lot of it comes down to identity. People have created an identity on Flickr, and while that won't directly be impacted, it still needs to be subsumed by whatever username is available at Yahoo!.

My Flickr username is 'ccranium', and I happen to have the same username at Yahoo! but for many people - especially early users in a namespace - they won't be able to get the same identity, and so would have to pick something like ccranium_1142 or some other random number.

I also think that the weird badge of honour that people associate with low usernumbers or logging in with their "old skool" account for a favoured service can't be disregarded. I'd wager a lot of GNE people are part of the 5%.

People create associations with companies and brands. That association hinges on many things. I think for most people their connection with Flickr extends far beyond the way they log in and as with others I don't think there'll be much todo come 3/16, but the complaints are entirely reasonable, to me.


Yeah, it bugs me. I very well may still have a Yahoo account somewhere out in the ether, but there's a reason I don't use it-- I get asked too much for my ID, I see too many ads, the interfaces are *always* about five years behind in clunkiness, and I don't like being coerced into using a service I don't like to access one that I do.

Yes, I know that's why Yahoo probably bought flickr-- to access people that don't use Yahoo and to force or cajole those users into getting onto more Yahoo features, but how about a little respect for those ... pre-buyout... users? It's not like it would be hard for Yahoo to keep the old signin style. It's not like we didn't know that this was an option for signin.

Two other thoughts. First, what about us pro users? I can get making the freebie users go to Yahoo so as to get some revenue stream from them, even if it's just extra exposure to banner ads. But I paid for mine! Why make me be inconvenienced for a service I bought? Second, I don't buy that this is only 5% of users anyway. Since the buyout, have there been that many new users, or people convinced to switch to Yahoo for signin? I am highly skeptical. It sounds like a made up number to justify not having to support a different interface, and no one ever gets to or has to see any real numbers to see whether it's true or not.

Matt Haughey

For me, I don't really feel bad about changing, I just thought the language in the email was off-putting.

I never did it before because a lot of API apps didn't work with the Y! logins. You had to be a old school user to see the old flickr mobile, etc. Now that everything works with it, it's not a big deal and I've switched over and noticed no changes, so that's good.


Anil: I didn't have a Y! account before, because of their general dubiousness. I think a lot of the bad feeling about this boils down to perceptions of Yahoo as "ugh skeezy" and Flickr as "yay! top!".

I wonder if Yahoo understands how poorly they are viewed? It probably wouldn't matter much -- Stewart pointed out in the FlickrHelp thread that Yahoo has more sign ups every day than the entire set of old-school holdouts.


For me, there's a difference between what I saw as a mostly independent entity, flickr-owned-by-yahoo, and yahoo's flickr division. This change graphically marks the transition from the former to the latter. With this move (and the relentlessly chipper comments by flickr staff explaining how this is good for them and no, they really don't care about their customers' opinions or convenience), I am demoted from customer to fodder. Yahoo's business model is not in providing service to me; it's serving me up to its advertisers. That's something I simply don't need or choose to pay for.

Anil Dash

no, they really don't care about their customers' opinions or convenience

I think that's a wild leap from their statements. But then my opinion is shaped by talking to the folks who are making this happen. I find the more malign theories easier to believe when I don't talk to the people who sweat bullets over these kinds of choices.

If they didn't care about their customers' opinions or convenience, the service itself wouldn't exist, a forum for discussing it wouldn't have been created, the team wouldn't be responding, and they certainly wouldn't have let people know a year in advance. I hate seeing people who go out of their way to do better than average get slammed.


Why does someone forcing 5% of users to do it their way bother you? If you're a Mac user, you sure know why it bothers you.

We had to spend two years fighting the federal government to make some grant-related websites Mac-compatible...and it's not like websites should be OS-specific, right? But we're the 5%, so we get dumped on, just like our old-skool Flickr-user brothers and sisters.

Andre Torrez

Oh, I just noticed Anil linked this post as "a well-articulated objection", which is funny because I dashed it off immediately after I got the Flickr email and went off to a meeting...coming back later to kind of clean it up.

I think my initial reaction was mainly based around that numbers of 95% and 5%, and not knowing where on the bell curve of active hardcore users those 5% landed. Not really an objection, just an observation of what was really going on in relation to community sites. I find the subject fascinating and deal with it on a smaller magnitude.

It's pretty bold to play it the way they did, and the announcement email seemed like the bad cop trying to be a good cop by using words like "kewl" and "skool" and "required".

I really don't like being told by my social networking site that I pay for, that I'm required to do anything. They're required. They're required to make things easy for me. They're required to send me my password when I lose it, they're required to make sure other users aren't bothering me and give me tools to deal with them, and they're required to make things better when I think it's not.

I converted my account just now. It's super simple (and kind of pretty) so the thing is really a non-issue. They do use the word "kewl" again, though.


One little bit o'phrasing that I found slightly annoying (my emphasis below):

A pair of items for your attention: 1. In our ongoing efforts to Make Flickr Better TM , we're introducing two additional limits
Don't give your users limits. Maybe say that they're introducing two changes, but it seems a little strange to come right out and saying "Hey! New limits with what you can do on our service!"


Um, didn't they mention they were going to require a unified Yahoo! login like a really long time ago? This thread makes it sound as if they just decided today to make this 5% (who, quiet as it's kept, are probably substantially responsible for a good chunk of bringing that other 95% of people to Flickr) make the switch. It's a slight irritation for me, too, but they warned us well in advance - many months ago. I think they're trying to be as nice as possible regarding the inevitable, but now it's time to lower the boom. If anything, this conversation would have probably had more of an impact when they first announced they were going to do this, but it's kinda late for that now.


I joined my flickr and yahoo accounts up the minute it was available. Having one less set of username/passwords to remember is always a win. The people whining about this are just angry that they can't be in some kind-of bizarre social club of old-skoolers, so if forcing them to migrate shuts them up and gets everyone back to posting photos, the sooner the better.

Ms Snit

I find this hugely bothersome. Obviously if I was interested in switching my account I would have done so by now. I don't want all my services linked up. Call me paranoid, call me anti-social, but I'd like to be able to control the services I use and the information that is inputted into these services. I have no interest in attaching a paid service to an easily hacked yahoo email address.

bollocks to yahoo

Archer O

A negative reaction of this scale is not just about a login. People react to what the move represents. They know Yahoo will not, cannot, stop with this. The change heralds the start of something. These people already know it is something they do not want.

People do not trust Yahoo. You would have to travel far and wide indeed to find an Internet company with the same sordid reputation Yahoo has.

The bad reputation is one Yahoo has spent years earning. You can say all you want about general aversions to large corporations, but the truth is that if Google had bought Flickr you wouldn't be seeing anything like this. (Google's ads appeared on Flickr, in fact, at the time the Old Schoolers joined.) No, the problem is not size. And it's not change.

The problem is Yahoo.

I won't recite all the stories. They are out there in news headlines for everyone to see. What matters is the pattern of behavior these stories, taken together, reveal. They invariably show Yahoo as a company that takes a consistent, predictable attitude toward its account holders.

Account holders are not a 'community' to Yahoo. They are not even customers--not even when they pay for the services they use. To Yahoo, account holders are raw material.

Yahoo's real customers are advertisers. Their business is selling advertising. The company has a heart made of spam. This has always been so and it has not changed now.

Yahoo's account holders are a statistic that can be cited to encourage the real customers to pay for ads. Any services Yahoo provides as part of its accounts are only so many gimmicks to get people to look at ads.

Other companies make money through ads, too, of course. Where Yahoo has always gone wrong--and inadvertently made competitors like Google rich at its expense--is in its feeling no responsibility at all toward account holders. The attitude is most apparent, and disturbing, in the company's treatment of private property. Yahoo consistently sees account holders' goods--the photos, the account information, the posts--as somehow, in some strange way, its own. It consistently tries to leverage these things into its control in a way that allows Yahoo, not the account holder, to do with these things as it pleases.

The company has a shameful track record when it comes to appreciating what properly belongs to whom. We saw this when Yahoo execs released private account information to the Chinese government that led to the imprisonment of dissidents--and then exressed no regrets. We saw this again in the new Terms of Service Yahoo announced for Flickr users that gave Yahoo exclusive rights to use all public photos they mounted for any purpose Yahoo wished, forever. (Like so many outrageous moves Yahoo makes, this last one was retracted under fire. One wonders if, like so many moves Yahoo retracts, it will not also be reintroduced later.)

Until now Flickr users had reason to feel that Yahoo, even if it now owns Flickr, was at least keeping its tentacles to itself. One could hope that Yahoo, a deeply unpopular and untrusted company, saw the need to reinvent itself and was actually aiming to do so by learning from the better companies it acquired. The beginning of the merging process, though, dispels any false hopes of this sort. Flickr users have seen the future. The future is Yahoo and its heart of spam. This is who will have your credit card information, your contact information, your photographs.

An overreaction? No. Just a tasteless, disreputable company earning the fruits of its well-earned reputation.

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before this i wrote links for 2007-01-30 after this i wrote links for 2007-01-31


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