An Open Letter to Flickr

Dear Flickr,

I appreciate that one of your staff members, Matthew Almon Roth, sent me an invitation to join the Flickr Beta Group. This happened after Mr. Roth noticed a tweet I made praising one of the new individual photo layout designs and encouraging your service to make similar fixes to how the group pool pages have been changed.

However, after much thought over several days since I received my invitation, I have decided to decline your offer. I have three reasons for this.

First of all, your parent company, Yahoo, is such a mess right now that I have no confidence you can truly fix the problems with or complaints over Flickr that have arisen since the new designs were started to be forced on users in May 2013. As a prime example, the invitation Mr. Roth sent to me ended up in the Spam folder of my Yahoo Mail account. That’s a very sad statement when your own e-mail system cannot tell the difference between Spam and a message coming from one of your own employees.

Second, having watched this situation closely since May 2013, I have no confidence that this offer was a fully honest request for assistance. Having observed Yahoo’s behavior on the Flickr Help Forum as well as its suspicious activity on Twitter in regard to this service, I have to wonder if I am being asked to join the beta testing just to keep me quiet. While it is certainly a legitimate request from any company to ask beta testers to not share information outside of the group, the way Yahoo has ignored and tried to hide the tidal wave of negative feedback over the changes at Flickr does not make me feel your company is trustworthy under its current leadership.

Third and most important of all, I feel this so-called beta group is a waste of time. You have received tens of thousands of pieces of feedback — maybe even hundreds of thousands at this point — ranging from full critiques of the overall design to detailed reports on its poor performance. You know full well what your customers want — to offer users a clean, easy-to-read-and-navigate design for both individual accounts and group pools that doesn’t bog down or glitch even on the best computers with the fastest available Internet connections.

We all know why you made these changes. You wanted a younger demographic using Flickr. That was idiotic on your part as the young crowd already has their means of sharing photos…one of them being the 1.1 billion dollars Yahoo spent on Tumblr.

I fully understand that, overall, Yahoo badly needed to freshen up its image. On the other hand, a company and its free-spending CEO also need to understand when it has something special like Flickr…not to mention that not everybody on the Internet is 22 years old with a five-second attention span posting nothing but selfies and pictures of whatever craft beer they just bought at the local hipster bar.

In the wake of all the complaints that have come with almost every change you have made with Flickr since May 2013 while the overall traffic to the site plummeted, you have received all of the advice you need on what should be changed. You should be happy to have Tumblr for the younger crowd and Flickr for those into serious photo sharing and the community that comes with it.

With all of that, you do not need me or anybody else to tell you that group pool pages hang up and then send one multiple rows back up the page. You have known it since May 2013 and refuse to fix it.

You do not need me to tell you how slow pages are to load even when I have a verified download speed of almost 40 Mbps and a computer that could turn goat piss into gasoline. You have known it since May 2013 and refuse to fix it.

You do not need me to tell you about all of the difficulties users have had with how things were laid out and hidden behind cryptic menus for those trying to upload new content as well as those simply trying to view it. You have known it since May 2013 and refuse to fix it.

And…you certainly do not need me to tell you that the “justified” layouts with pages made as long as War and Peace are widely despised. You have known it since May 2013 and refuse to fix it.

You’ve already been told those things and much more tens of thousands of times and all in the wake of seeing Flickr’s traffic plummet since May 2013. Other than maybe it’s the fantasy world that your CEO, Marissa Mayer, lives in, I cannot fathom why you need more free help when the feedback you have received in the Flickr Help Forum, on Twitter, via the media, and elsewhere has been about as close to 100-percent negative as I’ve ever seen aimed toward a major corporation in my 16 years of being a regular participant on the World Wide Web.

So…thanks but no thanks, Yahoo and Flickr. If you say you need help now, you’re probably beyond help until your shareholders finally figure out that there’s more to attracting and keeping an audience for your potential advertisers than having one’s CEO continue to buy other companies while taking the politician-like tactic of never acknowledging negative feedback.



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