Why Do Flickr and Firefox Hate Each Other So Much?

Why Do Flickr and Firefox Hate Each Other So Much?

For the past two years Firefox has had repeated trouble in loading Flickr images for me. I’m not sure why and I’d love to figure it out. Here are some clues.

1. I can load every flickr image in Safari, but not Firefox. What I get (especially when loading image intensive pages are random image loads like the screenshot above).

2. I only have this problem when browsing Flickr on DSL or broadband wifi. When I use my fiber uVerse connection at home all images load 100% of the time in Firefox.

3. It seems that once this behavior starts happening it progressively gets worse and worse. Sometimes if I close a page with images that are not loading, other pages that won’t load images suddenly populate the images.

4. If images are not loading in Firefox, Flickr thumbnails in FriendFeed also load sporadically.

5. I’m using Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.4; en-US; rv: Gecko/2009021906 Firefox/3.0.7

I’m not blocking flickr in any way. (update edit: I don’t use adblock).

When I use Flickr’s test page, it has a red x for Global Farm 4 images. When I right click on both the images that are loading and not loading and check the image properties they appear to be coming from Global Farm 4.

Appreciate any help or feedback.

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  1. andy frazer says:


    Your hyperlink to the Flickr test page is missing the leading ‘h’ character in the URL.


  2. Eric in SF says:

    Thomas, I am a Comcast customer in San Francisco. I use a Mac and Firefox. I have no problems with Flickr.

  3. Groovymarlin says:

    This might be really simplistic, but are you running any ad blocking add-ons such as AdBlock Plus, etc.? If you are, you might want to make sure some of Flickr’s distributed image hosts are not somehow in your block list.

    Otherwise, I dunno. I have noticed that I get intermittent image loading problems in Firefox (on Flickr in particular) but only when my connection is slow or unreliable.

  4. Countrydan says:

    I think it’s just because it’s a great browser that has a lot of annoying little issues and short comings, and when you add addons to fix those, it creates more issues. I got to the point where things like this were happening and it was slow as all hell.
    Personally I switched to Chrome when it first came out and I love it, because it just works – and because it works I find I don’t miss the add ons at all. No Mac version yet though, bummer TH.

  5. Celine says:

    I used to have this same problem with Flickr a couple of years ago — one of the farms refused to connect, so sometimes I had to manually change the URL of the image to a different number to see a particular image.

    I either can’t remember how it was cleared up or it just magically stopped happening. I searched my email archives to see if I’d written to Flickr about it, but can’t find anything. I had forgotten all about it until your post, especially since I’m not a heavy Flickr user like I once was.

    I’m no help, but I can empathize. Yay for me.

  6. Nick P says:

    I use the ‘Fox but I’ve not seen anything like this issue.

    As someone above pointed out, its very easy to introduce issues with Firefox add-ons. I’d suggest you disable all add-ons (a pain, I know) and see if you still get this problem. If you don’t, then slowly re-enable the add-ons one by one checking Flickr between each.

    If the issue comes back after enabling a particular add-on, then that’s your culprit!

  7. Gustav says:

    I don’t think this is the problem, but you can always check. But this is maybe included in “I’m not blocking flickr in any way”.

    In most cases, the first one covers it, especially for Firefox and Flock users. If you are using Firefox or Flock, right click (ctrl-click on a Mac) an empty image element, and look to see if the option to ‘Block images from *.flickr.com’ is selected, substituting the * for one of the host server names mentioned above. If so, deselect it. Voila!

    Flickr FAQ

  8. James Spinks says:

    Mine does exactly the same thing. Seems to be some kind of network limitation on DSL. I wait a bit, go make a cup of tea or something and it’s fine again. But eventually it’ll start up again…

  9. Markus says:


    i have the same issue here in Germany sometimes, but i think it’s due to a DNS Problem. Whenever i restarted the problem was gone. Then i started investigating – i think it’s a caching problem – if you clean your dns cache, the problem is gone.

    here’s how on the different OSs http://www.tech-faq.com/flush-dns.shtml

  10. Bart Braem says:

    Do you have the same problem if you login to the guest account and start firefox there? That’s a very easy way to quickly check with a “fresh” install.

  11. Quikboy says:

    Strange, it works fine in IE7.

  12. TranceMist says:

    I have the same problem with Firefox on OS X off and on, and I’m always connected over Ethernet (wired) to Comcast. 🙁

  13. Wil C. Fry says:

    I have the same problem (Firefox 3.5.5 on Windows XP) occasionally. It only happens on Flickr images, and only in Firefox. (Images on other sites all load perfectly with Firefox, and all other browsers load Flickr images perfectly).

    Every time it’s happened, I’ve been able to solve it by creating a new FF profile, which is frustrating and tedious. But it works.

  14. Adam says:

    I had this problem with Firefox and Flickr and managed to resolve it by disabling one plugin:

    Yahoo Application State Plugin

    This is actually listed in the Mozilla “blacklist” but Yahoo Messenger installs it by default.

  15. Olivier H says:

    Hi Thomas,

    I have the exact same problem here (at work) on Firefox 3.6.x running on Windows XP. When I do the test I see farm3.static.flickr.com is not OK.
    However, on pages where I have blank images, whenever I load the direct urls, even if they are hosted on farm3, it works like a charm.

    And like others : it works fine with Internet Explorer 6/7.

    I’ll try the profile thing suggested by Wil C. Fry.

  16. Olivier H says:

    Solution found :
    Preferences > Content > Automatically Load Images > Exceptions

    I don’t know why, but farm3.static.flickr.com was in the exceptions list!

    Maybe this would apply in some other cases?