Flickr Kills “Photo Session” Four Months After Launch

Flickr Announces Android App and Flickr Photo Session

Back at the end of September I wrote a post critical of Flickr’s latest new feature “Photo Session.” The new feature seemed laughable to me and indicative of a more general trend of flickr just not really getting it when it came to innovation.

The feature allowed you to chat (old skool AOL style) with other users while looking at a photo together. You could also draw little doodles on the photos one at a time. Well apparently nobody is using the thing and as such they are taking it out back behind the barn (with the donkey in it) and putting it down.

Flickr Chief Markus Spiering blogs from the Flickr Blog: “Photo Session is a feature that offered a real-time way to share photos with other people in a browser, with no additional apps to install. The feature had been developed as a technology showcase, but has not seen the user adoption we were hoping for. The feature will be turned-off by March 20…”

In today’s world where we can get on Google+ live with audio and video and use screen share, Photo Session seemed like such an archaic outdated thing to even be launching. I could see a possible application with flickr porn, but because flickr didn’t allow you to share adult oriented content this way it didn’t even have an application there.

Flickr also announced today that they will be ending Picnik as well (which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone now that Google — a Yahoo competitor — acquired the Picnik company).

They are also cleaning house in a few other areas, discontinuing support for old browser versions, etc.

Now, on the plus side Spiering blogs that Flickr is starting out 2012 with a “renewed focus,” and promises that this year is going to be “big” and that we will see “significant updates to Flickr’s user experience, new features and offerings across devices.” This is the first time in years that I remember anyone actually talking about improving flickr’s game, let alone the guy in charge of flickr.

Of course, as they say, talk is cheap, so we’ll see how quickly Flickr begins rolling out these new features for us. For what it’s worth, I absolutely agree with their decision to kill Photo Session. Nobody was using it and it was embarrassingly bad. It’s good to see Flickr recognizing this and cutting that loss early.

So how could Flickr impress me in 2012?

Well, there are lots of things they could do. These are some of the top ways that I think they could improve Flickr for users.

1. More robust blocking and filtering tools. When I block somebody on Flickr they should totally be wiped off the planet of my flickr experience. Why let horrible people continue to harass me when I want nothing to do with them. Make them completely invisible. Do it like Google+ does. When I block someone anything they type anywhere on Flickr should disappear for me. Any comment on any photo. Any comment in any group thread. Anywhere. Nuke them entirely as far as I’m concerned. Make the bad crazy psycho people go away.

Also let me filter out things I don’t want to see. This is especially true with group threads. Let me choose to hide a group thread and never have to see it again. Also let me be able to choose to hide all photos by a certain user. Make these photos now disappear from search and everywhere on the site for me. I hate it when I do a search for “Austin” and have to see the same photographer come up over and over and over again with photos of Utah simply because he’s tagged his photos with Austin.

2. Create a basic group thread reader for mobile. Group threads are the lifeblood of social on Flickr. Make it as easy as possible for people to track their group threads. A simple text reader for group threads should be easy enough to implement.

3. Give me circles for my contacts. Right now Flickr only has two ways I can categorize my contacts friends/family and contacts. I need more buckets. Let me create circles of San Francisco photographers and neon photographers and Super close friends, and people I’ve photowalked with, and all kinds of other ways of organizing these contacts.

4. Let me browse a version of Explore by circle. Why force me to have to look at all of those crappy watermarked photos in Explore today by strangers. I don’t want to see those. Instead what I want to see is the most interesting photos from the past hour/day/week/month by whatever circle I want to browse. I want to interact with photos from my friends more than I want to interact with photos by strangers. Sure, give me an option to browse the section by “everyone,” but also give me the ability to filter it by whatever circle I want.

5. Get rid of the secret Explore blacklist. I was on it for over 2 years before they took me off it. It’s unfair. it makes Flickr feel hostile. I was talking with a user the other day who said that he thought he’d been blacklisted because his stuff was too Christian. Whether that’s true or not, knowing that users can be secretly blacklisted is harmful for community. Not knowing why you were blacklisted or even if you are blacklisted raises all kinds of suspicious worrying and concern.

6. Integrate SuprSetr into Flickr. Building albums by hand is so last decade. Let me build albums by keywords. Have them automatically update. Flickr says they are looking to hire engineers. Hire Jeremy Brooks, the creator of SuprSetr and have him build this tech out for you.

7. Refresh the most recent photos by my contacts page. Flickr’s former designer Timoni West last year called this the most important page on Flickr and it’s in desperate need of an overhaul. Let me customize this page way more. Right now I can view photos 4 ways in this section: the last single photo by my friends and family, the last single photo by my contacts, the last 5 photos by my friends and family or the last 5 photos by my contacts.

This is wayyyy too limiting. Why such arbitrary numbers? Let me decide how many I want to see, the last 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 100, unlimted, whatever. Let me set any number I want here. Also let me filter it not just by my friends/family/contacts. Let me filter it by any flickr circle I want to. “Super Close Friends” “San Francisco Photogs” “Great Google+ Friends Also on Flickr” “Flickr Employees” “Bad ass HDR Shooters” “People Going on my Death Valley Trip” whatever. You get the idea. Let me filter this section by the most recent photos of whatever group of people I want.

Markus, I admire your resolve on making Flickr a better place in 2012. It’s refreshing hearing something like that from the top dog on Flickr. Now let’s see if team flickr can deliver.

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5 comments on “Flickr Kills “Photo Session” Four Months After Launch
  1. Clearlight says:

    I think there should be more porn in google+ hangouts.

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    @Clearlight, of course you do. ;)

  3. Jeff Clow says:

    I really think they should follow every one of your suggestions. My time on Flickr has diminished greatly and I was a power user for years.

    The site feels old and stuck in 2006 – which is a shame because it was so vibrant and fun when it first launched.

    Terrific post.

  4. Adam says:

    I agree with you Thomas and applaud Flickr’s new commitment to innovation. It will hopefully be exciting to see what comes of it.

    I believe your suggestions are good, but I also think there need to be improvements made to geotagging in particular. I wrote a blog post just prior to Flickr’s announcement and feel even more satisfied now that they are “listening” to us collectively.

    Google-style circles would also be a major improvement.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, got here and more involved by listening to you on TWIP… Was wondering if you have any suggestions for google+ using an iPad.

    Thanks

    Ian Woods
    Camrose, Canada