Former Flickr Engineer Attacks SmugMug CEO on Blog
Former Flickr Engineer Kevin Collins is out with a blog post attacking SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill. After a series of tweets back and forth with Collins saying that MacAskill was taking the “low road” by pointing out Flickr’s recent PR disaster of accidentally deleting the wrong user account, Collins is out with a full blog post now (which doesn’t allow comments surprise surprise) criticizing Don and SmugMug.
I can’t identify the person, and have no interest in doing so, but it seems to highlight a culture FUD and mud-slinging that Don MacAskill seems to practice. I know very well I would never have gotten away with trashing the competition with the way he does- I can’t say I would have lost my job, but I most probably would have been removed from speaking publicly for Flickr at the time and put on a short leash. In any event, I would never have dreamt of publicly criticizing another service, and would be embarrassed to do so. I guess if you are the CEO, you feel you can say it any way you want, no matter how tacky.
How dare someone, especially a competitor, dare to criticize Flickr over an account deletion issue right?
Collins seems to hold the opinion that “benevolent Flickr” can do no wrong and that it’s somehow “tacky” to try and benefit from the horrendous way that Flickr has mismanaged community and especially with regards to unwarranted account deletion issues.
While Flickr did eventually go through the actual work to recover the deleted account in question, it wasn’t until a vast amount of public pressure was put on the company, including mainstream reports in the New York Observer, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, etc. Had there not been this public pressure, Flickr very likely would have stuck by their original statement to the customer that they couldn’t get his photos back. Flickr doesn’t mind screwing people over as long as they can keep it quiet. It’s funny how when enough negative attention hits the company that they “all of a sudden” are able to restore deleted accounts.
Kevin says that during his tenure at Flickr he “managed the help Forum for most of that time.” Back in 2009 when users were upset about Flickr deleting accounts and having no way to undelete them (in one of many user protests) Flickr arrogantly stated that not only could they not get deleted accounts back, but that this wasn’t even a feature that they were working on. Back in 2009 (when Collins was in charge of the Help Forum apparently) Flickr Staffer Zack Sheppard said in regards to the issue of undelting accounts, “we have heard your feedback about that here, and in the past, and we know it is on some people’s wish list, but it’s not something that we are working on currently.” After saying that they weren’t working on undelete functionality they promptly locked the thread to prevent additional user criticism.
Here’s what blows my mind.
After Flickr has deleted account after account after account for the most petty of things. After they have wrongly abused their customers again and again and again with no accountability to users whatsoever. After all the threads that they lock and close where users complain of account deletion. After all the ways that they try to silence criticism about this practice (I’m permanently, “for the time being,” banned from the Flickr help forum where I’ve been suggesting that they develop an undelete process for years — they just kicked out my Pal Pierre Honeyman last week for daring to criticize them as well.) After all this horrible community mismanagement, a guy who used to oversee this mess in the help forum has the balls to attack Don MacAskill and SmugMug for suggesting that if users are tired of Flickr’s BS that they move their accounts?
That “Don” isn’t taking the high road?
You’ve got to be kidding me.
You want to talk about the “high road?”
Why does Flickr ban people from the help forum simply for dissenting? Why won’t Flickr answer real questions with transparency? Why didn’t Flickr develop an undelete feature two years ago when we were clamoring for it rather than wait for a PR disaster to happen? Why did Flickr nuke a friggin’ LEGO group a week ago? Why won’t they still give Deepa Praven an actual real life answer on why her account was deleted? I guarantee you they could restore her account if it hit CNN like Mirco’s did. Flickr deleted a Washington State Firefighter’s 5 year account because he complained about a level 3 sex offender (the worst 3%) who had moved into his neighborhood next to a school?
Why does Flickr stonewall and hide and refuse to address these important issues?
Maybe if Flickr doesn’t want to be criticized they should treat their customers better and actually, you know, operate with transparency, rather than simply try to ban and censor everyone who disagrees with them.
Here’s the other thing. Don MacAskill has been the polar opposite of Flickr. Time and time again MacAskill and his team at SmugMug have bent over backwards to do the right thing for their community. Time and time again they listen to their customers and actually engage them and deal with issues in a real and human way. People aren’t banned from commenting there. People aren’t routinely deleted without warning or accidentally deleted. There is a healthy respect between SmugMug and their customers that doesn’t exist between Flickr and their customers. So maybe rather than criticizing Don and SmugMug, team Flickr should rather try to emulate the way that Don and his team actually give a damn about their users. Until then I think Kevin has no right to criticize Don for pointing out Flickr’s shortcomings.
Don, you just keep on doing what you’re doing, if Flickr users want to leave Flickr due to horrible customer service, that should be Flickr’s problem, not yours.
And by the way Kevin, in terms of nobody at Yahoo ever dreaming to speak ill of a competitor? Yahoo errected a friggin statue at Yahoo badmouthing the GMail team and comparing Yahoo defeating them to the Allies defeating the Nazis. I’m not kidding you, the actual Nazis. Good Lord, and you complain because Don dares to point out a huge and blatant problem at Flickr and suggest his site might do better.