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 m.flickr.com or the new Yahoo! Go program for mobiles, available at: http://go.yahoo.com.
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:http://flickr.com/account/associate/
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: http://flickr.com/help/signin/
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!
– 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.