Betrayal 2.0

I feel betrayed and I’m not even sure why. I got an email the other day from Flickr and I thought, hmm that’s unusual. And this is what I got:

“Dear Old Skool Account-Holding Flickr Member,

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

We’re making this change now to simplify the sign in process in advance of several large projects launching this year, but some Flickr features and tools already require Yahoo! IDs for sign in — like the mobile site at or the new Yahoo! Go program for mobiles, available at:

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. It’s easy to switch: it takes about a minute if you already have a Yahoo! ID and about five minutes if you don’t.

You can make the switch at any time in the next few months, from today till the 15th. (After that day, you’ll be required to merge before you continue using your account.)
To switch, start at this page:

Nothing else on your account or experience of Flickr changes: you can continue to have your FlickrMail and notifications sent to any email address at any domain and
your screenname will remain the same.

Complete details and answers to most common questions are available here:

Thanks for your patience and understanding – and even bigger thanks for your continued support of Flickr: if you’re reading this, you’ve been around for a while and that means a lot to us!

Warmest regards,

– The Flickreenos”

Obviously I’m not the only one ticked off but I tried to decipher this feeling a little. After a few days of brooding, I think I’ve found it. This is the beginning of something important for online communities and for people who want to start an online community in the hopes of selling out to bigger companies in the future.

Reasons not to tick your initial user base off:

1. These are people who never signed up to the big company product. Don’t go imposing their rules and regulations, people signed up and agreed to your terms and conditions, not theirs. It’s like having someone change your employment contract half way through, it sucks.

2. These die hard fans are the ones who allowed you to sell to a big company as you had an active and passionate user base, so they were part of your sales pitch, be thankful.

3. These old skoolers never got a penny, but you got rich in a large transaction, and they never asked for anything other than your respect.

4. Most communities have to deal with rating and reputation, Flickr doesn’t because it was always passion of photography and visual histories that kept people believing in it. That’s worth a different sign-in page no?

5. Making that user base feel special is good for business, they are the ones to get interested in your latest products and to advertise the hell out of it, blog it, link to it, etc. Read The Tipping Point for christ’s sake.

6. You inject bitterness and annoyance in what are probably your most active users, if they decide to leave, they will go and advocate for someone else’s product.

Not a good marketing decision and certainly logistics are the lamest excuse ever. I’m seriously considering deleting my account now, downloading my favorites and taking my personal history elsewhere.

Other people ranting about this issue:
My good friend Dave Chiu.

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Founder of designswarm & the Good Night Lamp. Ex CEO of Tinker London, Head of Bulb Labs till May 2019.

7 thoughts on “Betrayal 2.0”

  1. A bit ridiculous, I think, Alex.

    It isn’t as if the people who work at Flickr want this, they’ve fought it off from Yahoo as long as they could but at some point you don’t have any more arguments to make, they did their best to make it as painless as possible for everybody involved.

    I don’t know what your personal experience with Yahoo has been, but Flickr has remained a very special group within it and they’ve done everything to keep what made them special in spite of Yahoo’s acquisition, I feel getting mad at Flickr for this is misplaced, Yahoo, if anyone, should be the target of your ire.

    I personally think it a bit exaggerated to get angry in the first place, if you haven’t already picked up a Yahoo account somewhere in the course of being on the internet you are definitely the exception rather than the rule, and beyond the idea of signing up for a Yahoo account if you somehow don’t have one there isn’t anything painful here.

  2. Ha! Well i’m one of those people who uses POP3 for my gmail account and no, doesn’t have a Yahoo account.

    Yes of course I should probably be more mad at Yahoo than anyone else, it’s harder to get mad at a company with no face or forum and nothing that’s particularly appealing to me at the moment apart from this particular piece of virtual real estate that is Flickr.

    I’m not angry either, takes a lot for me to be angry, just a bit ticked off : ) besides i dont think i’m the only person to share that feeling and if i am, well that would make me more special then ;)

  3. It’s not about the business decision. I understand the reasoning behind that.

    Having had a little more time to think about this issue (aside from my three posts the other day), this is what I think is at stake. The romantic notion that people have held about community in relation to social networking has been revealed to be just that: a romantic notion. What “community” means, really, is getting critical mass for your service so that you can sell it to Google or Yahoo or Microsoft.

    Call me naive for thinking anything other than that when looking at these social networking web services. I for one will never look at another online service again in quite the same way, knowing that by virtue of my free labor a group of people may very well make millions of dollars, all in the name of “community”.

    I suppose that sounds like a bunch of homesteaders complaining about the new neighbors 10 miles away.

    But, you may argue, nothing’s really changed at Flickr with all this Yahoo business. Mechanically it’s all the same (OK, with some login changes). Ah, but what *has* changed is the story—and I think this is key—the story that went in hand with the community that we all created. Building Flickr was very much a group effort on the part of both the creators and the people who supplied the photos and the comments and the community, and I think that in this process everyone became at least a little invested. Perhaps that feeling of investment was misinterpreted to mean ownership as well.

    I’m getting kind of tired sounding like a broken record on this issue, so that’s about where I’ll leave things.

  4. I’m pissed off as well. One of the advantages of being an early adopter is that you get to pick your login id. I have so many places I have accounts on that it is generally very advantageous to have the same id all over the place – otherwise you just forget them.

    With Flickr I had my preferred id. With yahoo, there’s no chance, because all good id’s have already been taken by spambots and other evil things. I have a yahoo id, but that is only to collect spam email, and I would not even dare to announce it in public, so I will need to have *yet another* yahoo id. And that, frankly, sucks. Even that id took like 20 attempts, because all the id’s I could think of were already taken, until I started inputting random Finnish curse words into the system.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there are good replacements right now for Flickr. But yeah, I’m pissed off enough to switch if I could find a new one that I could use a good id on.

  5. I was as pissed of as you where (and still am, to the amazement of some colleagues) but when I noticed it took me exactly 1 minute to bind my existing Yahoo account to my Flickr account, I was wondering what I was so upset about in the first place :) If you don’t have a Yahoo account, it’ll be a different ballgame I guess, but still not REALLY that difficult right? It’s the thought that counts ofcourse, true.

  6. I agree with you Alexandra,
    we joined flickr not yahoo!

    here is my metaphor:
    if we are “old skool”, why we need to pass the entry exhamination again?

    *I had a yahoo account 5 years ago but it’s impossible to recover (I invented all my info, and of course I don’t remember anything) so now I can’t use my username :(

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