I’ve been using Flickr for over 4 years now. I’ve been paying for a pro account for 2 different accounts, and was happy to do that. Flickr made me happy.
But this time it was different. I did pull out my credit card, typed in the details and hit submit. But this time, it was with a heavy heart.
Flickr no longer makes me happy.
Flickr used to be a shining example of a web app that evolved with and for its users. It was led by benevolent dictators, who listened to the community, but had their own vision of “what’s right”.
As a photographer, I appreciated the little things – the emphasis on the picture as the main object. The multiple resolutions. The metadata support. As a person who builds web applications for people, I appreciated a different set of little things – the wording, the call to action, the navigational hints, the innovative discovery elements. Flickr was (and still is) smart, and at the same time, it had a soul. It felt like it was an embodiment of its creators.
The app is still smart. But the soul is gone.
For me, it started when Flickr started restricting my photostream – and then removing the restriction – on a whim. And then they killed lilly1975, also on a whim. Later I became aware of Flickr’s approach to DMCA-related takedowns. Thomas Hawk has been doing a great job pointing out that these are not isolated incidents.
But it’s not just that. What is Flickr? Is it a web site where photographers can share their work? There are many sites that do an arguably better job at that, like JPG. Is it for sharing pictures with your friends and family? Picasa Web Albums seems like a much better way to do that, and much more approachable to newbies. Quick sharing of snapshots from your mobile? Twitpic, Snap2Twitter and their many friends seem so much better at that. Is it cheap storage for your pictures? Can’t really count on it, given all these accounts-deleted-on-a-whim incidents.
So who is Flickr’s target audience?
Flickr has been trusted with some truly fine work of arts. There are amazing artists on Flickr, and they have been creating work of arts that, while hosted on Flickr, are, like all other works of art, part of the human race heritage.
I don’t think Flickr is a worthy guardian of these gems anymore.