Another Bad Flickr Delete? Two Days in a Row? Say It Ain’t So Blake

An interesting comment over at the NY Observer’s story on yesterday’s “accidental” account deletion of Micro Wilhelm from Flickr user Jolengs.

Jolengs claims in the comments: “i just lost my 3200 plus photos today when i tried logging in it says – this member is no longer active…boo to yahoo, it should have been my 6th year this feb.22! ;(“

A quick look at the Jolengs account on Flickr shows that indeed it would appear to be deleted. You can see the Google cache of his page prior to yesterday here. The cache of his profile page shows that he had indeed been a long-term member of the site since 2005.

If I were Blake Irving or Carol Bartz or Matthew Rothenberg I’d probably instruct Flickr staff to stop deleting any more accounts until they can get their house in order in terms of undo delete functionality. Seriously, this situation is going from bad to worse and the story has hit the mainstream press now in a big way appearing in stories at the Los Angeles Times, TechCrunch, The Telegraph, etc.

Maybe Flickr should have actually listened to the community almost a year and a half ago when we were clamoring for this sort of functionality rather than just locking the thread of those of us who were complaining.

Another interesting update on Micro Wilhelm’s case. An anonymous commenter who claims to be a “Yahoo employee” left a comment on my other post on this story saying that Yahoo is actually working on restoring Wilhelm’s account and will have it back up in the next few days.

“Iam an yahoo employee and right now we have a backup of the data that we are restoring the photos from. The user should have all the photos back in the next day or so.”

No word if that means just that his photos are back or if all of his faves/comments/tags/etc. will also be there. But I suspect that the comment is legit as the IP address that generated it came from Yahoo Inc. in Santa Clara.

Update #1: PC World is now reporting that Flickr has increased his compensation to 25 years of Pro account, up from 4.

Yahoo statement from PC World: “Yesterday, Flickr mistakenly deleted a member’s account due to human error. Flickr takes user trust very seriously and we, like our users, take great pride in being able to take, post and share photos. Our teams are in touch with the member and are currently working hard to try to restore the contents of his account. In addition, we are providing the member with 25 years of free Flickr Pro membership. We are also actively working on a process that will allow us to easily restore deleted accounts and will roll this functionality out soon.”

Update #2: It looks like Flickr has restored Wilhelm’s account now.

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18 comments on “Another Bad Flickr Delete? Two Days in a Row? Say It Ain’t So Blake
  1. I normally try to be a bit more intelligent with my comments, but seriously… WTF? Flickr, get a grip already.

  2. Tom says:

    I don’t doubt there are actually backups from which photos and data could technically be restored. It sounds like there’s just no in-house tool that makes doing so any easy process.

    If Wilhelm’s account is restored a new problem arises: it sets a precedent that yes, deleted account data does exist somewhere and can be (painstakingly) restored.

    It might then make sense to finish a “nuked account” recovery tool in order to spend less time dealing with users who demand their data back and won’t take no for an answer.

  3. This is so frustrating…What they are doing right now is not justifiable. Come on yahoo listen to us.

  4. Photoswarm says:

    Try http://www.photoswarm.com. We won’t delete your photos!

  5. Chirag says:

    Anything yahoo does, buys or touches ends in disaster.
    In this case its the customer’s fault for using yahoo.

  6. this is so ridiculous! is there no way to reach the yahoo top folks and SHOW them what they refuse to acknowledge?!

  7. Michael says:

    Anything yahoo does, buys or touches ends in disaster.
    In this case its the customer’s fault for using yahoo.

    I was with Flickr before Yahoo bought it and it is still one of the best photo communities out there. Yeah I’d been happier if Google had bought them, but they didn’t.

    Anyway, I already set up a smugmug account last year and will try to migrate the rest of my data over…. It would be much nicer if smugmug wouldn’t require me to go through my own internet connection to do that though.

  8. Jonathan says:

    25 years?! There better be some sort of monetary damages clause when Flickr “forgets” about this little arrangement when they get a new management regime after Yahoo self-destructs.

  9. Is Flickr going to be around in 25 years?

    Also… since it appears his account has been restored, what does that mean for all of the other accounts that have been wiped out?

  10. Morten Hoff says:

    So it appears that in Flickr/Yahoo’s initial response to Wilhelm, they stated that it was not possible to restore his data. And now it turns out they have indeed done just that. So it looks like the data are backed up (also comments/faves it seems from looking at his restored account) but it probably requires hours of manual work on the database to do so. I’m glad they were able to fix it, but they probably wouldn’t have bothered if the news hadn’t reached mainstream press (and surprisingly also Yahoo News…). They really need to get a proper routine for this (disabling, not deleting as a first response), or sell off Flickr to someone who cares about their customers.

    Also, they need to be more specific in their terms of service regarding what is allowed and not, the “That guy”/”uncle Bob” definition is just silly. Yahoo should keep in mind that they serve a global audience, and a picture that may be considered “moderate” in one cultural context may be considered perfectly safe – or restricted, for that matter – for others. More specific guidelines could help avoid such confusion, right now there are probably hundreds of “that guy” who have no idea they could be breaching the rules.

  11. Keiko says:

    Yahoo should change it’s name to Flickr Hawk. You’re like married to it.

  12. JM says:

    Get off the Flickr Train. It’s derailing fast!

  13. jolengs says:

    but why would yahoo delete my email account that i used to log in @ flickr? is that standard operating procedure?
    my flickr account “jolengs” along with my email was deleted simultaneously on feb.2,2011 , i dont have access on my jolengs_2000 yahoo email too !?!

  14. jolengs says:

    and by the way i just pasted a screencap of your website in flickr @ my new account page, but i just discovered you cant view the screencap picture i uploaded along with the philippines group where we are discussing the situation i’m into with regards of my account deletion.
    the long arm of the law are in control of the “situation”
    you have to log in to flickr before you can view & read whats happening,wow !?