Flickr Does the Right Thing

Flickr Does the Right Thing

[I am CEO of Zooomr]

Flickr: Forums: FlickrHelp: Official contact and tag limit changes topic Flickr’s taken a lot of heat this week over some big changes over log on merging, tag limits and limiting how many contacts you can have on Flickr.

Although I’m still not happy about having to merge my “old skool” ID to a Yahoo ID (and will wait until the last possible minute to do so), the issue that affected me the most was the limiting of contacts on Flickr. Since the change I had been unable to add any new contacts on my Flickr account, which just seemed kind of backwards for a social based photo sharing site. I of course, as usual, was one of the loudest belly achers about this.

Flickr had different reasons for limiting contacts (anything beyond 3,000 was the cut off). One was an architectural/technical one. Rev Dan Catt gives some of the details on this here. But there were also very legitimate concerns with users accumulating large collections of contacts that could possibly be used for spamming, porn or other reasons.

Unfortunately at the time that they made this decision they essentially capped some of their most active earliest users on the site (myself included) from adding more contacts on Flickr.

Flickr user Merkley (ubber popular and takes the some of the best nudes — warning NSFW — around) came up with an alternative for Flickr. Merkley’s alternative was that Flickr should have their 3,000 contact limit, but that it should only apply to non-reciprocating contacts. This way people who were legitimately adding more than 3,000 contacts as reciprocation or (as was in Merkley’s case) because they needed to be contacts to see his private nude shots, these users could still use flickr as they always had. But simple contact whores, porn spammers, etc. would be limited.

It’s better explained in Merkley’s own words (especially since he calls me both handsome and talented):

“anyway, how about making a reciprocation exclusion? in other words, spammers are all out there clicking their fingers off trying to build a database of potential victims while AWESOME HANDSOME TALENTED people like myself and thomas hawk are merely reciprocating — seems like the two things are miles apart and therefore should be considered as two different groups with completely different intentions.

holy crap i’m as smart as i am handsome — almost.

anyway, just do it my way and thank me later. saves a lot of time. i’m sooo right. “

So I was pleased this afternoon to find that after being unable to add any Flickr contacts for the past 48 hours or so that I was able to add back my first. I’ve got a backlog of new contacts to add (I have several people who add me every day and like to reciprocate) but this will get done this weekend hopefully.

Bottom line is though that Merkley’s suggestion was a smart one and Flickr listened to their users and made a change on this one. And that’s a good thing.

Thanks Stewart for listening to the community on this one. Flickr is a better place with reciprocation than without. And thanks for spending hours of your own time these past few days personally responding in the forums on all of these changes. It’s this personal level of attention that means the most and it’s also a big part of what makes flickr such a great place.

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  1. Henrik says:


    With this happening, why don’t you ask if they can make it possible for you to have all your user accounts under one Yahoo ID? That way you could switch between the accounts (maybe using a drop-down) and only use one Yahoo ID.

    That would actually increase usability for you, wouldn’t it?

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    Henrik, that would be good. And I hope they do that too.

  3. Pacdog says:

    Your soo on top of this whole digital thing and you might be handsome, but that is another issue! Great stuff TH!!

  4. Jon says:

    This is really good news. Glad to see that Flickr listens to their users and will at least compromise with them.

  5. Shawn Morton says:

    As much as I would like to say Flickr did the right thing, they didn’t. This is damage control.

    If they really were interested in doing the right thing, they would have involved their “old skool” members in the decision-making process.

    Involving your passionate users early is a great way to diffuse criticism even if you make a decision they don’t like.

  6. Ron C says:

    Gee, where are all the idiots bashing TH on pointing out Flickr’s faults just to advance Zooomr? Ya post something good about flickr, and all we hear are crickets…why am I not surprised? I guess they are just waiting until you say one negative word against Flickr, then they will pounce again.
    Regardless, this is good news, and makes sense, and best of all – the took direct input from a user for the idea.

  7. Chris says:

    Well, so the performance problem wasn’t really that important then. It must really only be a theoretical problem for the future. If it was a current problem they would have had to say no to discounting reciprocal contacts.

    But if it was a technical issue I think Flickr should just had acted like a lot of say Web Hosting companies do and say each user can have 1000 mb of web space but not actually have that much storage since all users will never use all of it. Flickr could have just said 15000 contacts and noone would have complained. This was just a poor way to treat the most active users.

    It’s like this woman said in that linked forum thread:
    You add a couple of contacts a day and all of a sudden you have 1500.

    To me it seems that 3000 is a bit low realistically for the most active users. I don’t think it’s like you have to know someone to make them a contact, just like what you see and be able to see it again. And if i spent an hour or two a day on flickr looking, I’m sure i’d have a thousand contacts in a year without even trying.

    And treating the most active users bad is not a good thing. I am one example of people being sucked in to Flickr by Thomas and even though I take his raves with a grain of salt (especially with him having this Zoomr bias), his opinion still matters to me. It stops the possibly most active recruiters of new members to the site from bringing in new members, I’m sure that for example Thomas has brought in new members in the hundreds, if not thousands to Flickr.

  8. […] Thomas Hawk has reported that Flickr has rethought the cap on Flickr contacts. Now reciprocal contacts will not be counted towards the limit, allowing people to amass larger numbers of contacts. […]