Initial Thoughts On Flickr’s Community Guidelines Changes Today

Flickr modified their community guidelines today. I detailed the changes in the post just previous to this. My initial thoughts:

1. Flickr’s traffic has been down year over year and they need to try and get more traffic to appease the Yahoo boss. Allowing commercial accounts should result in a traffic increase to flickr as these accounts are added.

It’s been stupid that they haven’t already allowed these. Facebook, Twitter, etc. all allow businesses, brands, etc. on their services. Many, many businesses are already on Flickr anyways. It’s a no brainer and should have been done years ago.

2. It’s disappointing that Flickr still refuses to address their practice of deleting accounts willy nilly and arbitrarily and have held on to the "that guy" clause. It’s disappointing that someone like Deepa can have her account deleted and have no recourse whatsover and not even be entitled to an explanation. This clause ensures that Flickr staff can essentially do whatever the hell they want as "that guy" is the ultimate subjective clause. It puts every single Flickr account at potential risk.

3. It’s telling that they took out the passage "in most circumstances we like to give second chances." This is a bad sign and means that they are already (and will likely in the future) continue their practice of deleting accounts without any warning or recourse. At least they paid lip service to trying to warn people before. This is a big screw you to the users.

It sucks that they link the discussion to the changes in a forum where they simply ban people who might object (like me). It’s easier for them to try to sell their guidelines to the community when they are able to silence people who might be critical. The best communities are run transparently. By banning people from the help forum discussion Flickr prohibits an open and honest conversation about their changes.

Flickr should incorporate into their community guidelines a system whereby potentially offending accounts are made completely private for one week prior to permanent deletion. If an account does not object, it then would automatically be deleted after one week. If a user does object, however, they could be given an opportunity to remove whatever content Flickr objects to in order to bring their account in line with Flickr’s objection. This would be a far more responsible, sane and user friendly way to deal with customers and their data. Paying customers especially should be given this opportunity.

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  1. pat says:

    With consideration of #1, how on earth can it be considered a commercial account? Solely because it’s got a name that isn’t a personal name?

    Because they’re still not allowing users to sell or point to a commercial site from individual images: “If we find you engaging in commercial activity, we will warn you or delete your account. Some examples include selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream or in a group, using your account solely as a product catalog, or linking to commercial sites in your photostream.”

    Oh. Unless one wants to go through Getty, then everything’s all right.

  2. Bud Gibson says:

    Thomas, why do you stay on Flickr? It doesn’t sound promising with declining year on year visits and a financially ailing parent. I’d consider a move to picasa (which I am quite happy with though I’m not anywhere near the photographer you are).

    Seriously though, the specific example of picasa aside, would you consider alternatives?

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  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    Bud Picasa lacks the social fabric of Flickr. It’s a great site but it just does. It’s not near as social and Google really doesn’t seem interested in turning it into a social photo sharing site.

    Picasa (like SmugMug) is a great photo hosting site, but it’s not near as social.

    I would absolutely consider a good alternate social photosharing site, there just is not one out there today that can hold a candle to flickr. So I’m left hoping that someone (Google? startup? etc.) comes up with something in the months ahead, or that there is in fact significant change at Flickr to improve things for users.

    Not only would I consider an alternative site to post my own photos, I’d personally *LOVE* to be involved with helping to create an alternative and would *LOVE* to become an evangelist for the right forward thinking social photo sharing stie. That site just doesn’t exist yet today though.

  5. Bud Gibson says:

    I figured it had something to do with the social apsect. I actually use picasa as my photo hosting site and buzz and facebook as my social glues. But, I’m not looking for the same level of exposure as you are … at all.

  6. Aaron says:

    Hmm my earlier comment on here was deleted. All that work. 🙂

  7. Aaron says:

    Ahh nevermind, two posts about the guidelines. I’m losing my mind.

    I can’t believe the accidently deleted the wrong account and have no way to retrieve it. That is fine that you have an iron fist policy for certain things, but need to be able to back out of a mistake like that. Some kind of discussion should always happen first, or it would be real simple to make your account only visible to you until corrected or deleted.

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  9. shawn looker says:


    What in your mind would make a website that would compete with Flickr? I’m new to photography, but not to web development/design, and I’d love to hear more about the type of site that could compete on a serious level with Flickr, that would be ran by photographers that would have other photographers best interests in mind as opposed to a major corporation’s best interests.

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