Welcome to Yahoo Blake Irving

This morning Blake Irving penned a post over at Yahoo Anectdotal, Yahoo’s Corporate Blog, yodeling hello to the world in his new capacity as Chief Product Officer at Yahoo (staring May 17th officially). What follows is a comment that I left on his welcoming post regarding what I feel are serious issues regarding the management of Flickr. I’m also posting it here as an open letter to Blake in his new role. Good luck at Yahoo Blake and I hope that you can help bring a new era of transparency and openness to Yahoo’s Products.


Welcome to Yahoo. Congratulations on your new role and I wish you all the success that you and Yahoo truly deserve.

I hope you take a serious look at some of the mismanagement of the Flickr product. As one of the most active users of this service for over five years and a huge Flickr fan, I’ve been troubled by the censorship at Flickr, especially over the past few years. I’ve been troubled by the censorship I’ve experienced on my own account personally. And I’ve also been troubled by the broader censorship that Flickr engages in on accounts almost every day as well as institutionally in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Korea and Germany.

Yahoo should stand for a free and open internet.

Yahoo has in Flickr one of of the most important cultural jewels of our lifetime. Great care should be taken in how you manage it.

Did you know that if Flickr staff delete your account that there is no way of getting it back — even if they delete it by mistake. That it’s permanent and irrevocable. That you could lose all of your photos, meta data and most significantly the rich socially created meta data around your photos spanning in some cases many years? Data that does not belong to Yahoo but that Yahoo is entrusted (and in many cases paid) to care for.

Yahoo’s users deserve not to have to worry about the destruction of our data based on the capricious mood or whim of someone on Flickr staff on any given Monday. Saner policies should be implemented that take an account private before total, full and complete destruction.

Flickr users (agan myself included) should not be censored for expressing ways to improve the site that don’t tow the company line. They should not be blacklisted from popular areas of the site for calling out bad business practices.

Over the years I’ve gotten the feeling that Yahoo simply does not care about Flickr. That it’s largely viewed as a barely profitable annoyance at the company.

I’d be happy to talk with you more about these concerns personally if you had an interest in really turning Flickr into what it could and should be.

Good luck in your new role at Yahoo. I’ve also posted this note as an open letter on my blog.

Thomas Hawk

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  1. Merritt (Crick3) Brown says:

    Well done TH
    Who knows what eyes and ears wouldst ponder this post.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Thomas, thank you so much for speaking for so many of us. I hope your words are taken to heart.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Yahoo should stand for a free and open internet”

    Well why should Thomas ?. I understand that’s what you personally would like (and perhaps a lot of other people too) but in a free country Yahoo should be free to stand for whatever they like right ?.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    Well why should Thomas ?. I understand that’s what you personally would like (and perhaps a lot of other people too) but in a free country Yahoo should be free to stand for whatever they like right ?.

    Right, anonymous, but Yahoo has an obligation to their shareholders to provide the maximum value that they can for Yahoo. If you compare and contrast the stock performance of Google vs. Yahoo over the past three years (note that Google in general stands for a much more free and open internet than Yahoo), you’ll notice that Google has *significantly* outperformed Yahoo.

    As a shareholder of Yahoo I’d be concerned that by censoring the web that Yahoo is unnecessarily opening themselves up to bad PR. Every company should be concerned with bad PR, including even Yahoo.

    Further, alienating your most active users is not usually a recipe for success. Censoring users and upsetting them is probably not the best course of action Yahoo should be taking… from a shareholder perspective that is. Fortunately for me I don’t own any of their stock. Do you?