Flickr Rolls Out Justified Photos View to Groups
New Flickr Group Photo Pool
Old Flickr Group Photo Pool
Today Flickr continues their impressive overhaul by converting the ugly old thumbnail photo view of their group photo pools, to their beautiful new justified photo mosaic view that they rolled out earlier this year for their “photos from your contacts” page and your “favorites” page. This is a much better way to view photos and much easier to hover/fave photos when reviewing them. This should bump up the faves that people get by putting their photos in group pools and give heavy group users more traction on their photos.
Although group photo pools are important and this improvement in Flickr groups today is nice, the real action for groups is in the threads.
The most active social photographers on Flickr live in groups. I’ve always felt that Flickr’s groups represent Yahoo’s best chance at social. If years ago Yahoo had pushed Flickr’s group format harder and across more of their services, I think that they could have had a social winner. Flickr’s groups are still the best group structure anywhere on the web. This is the one area where Yahoo leads in photo sharing. Google has no groups and Facebook’s groups are not as engaging as Flickr’s.
For many years I was one of those people who lived in Flickr groups. I administered a few very popular groups and was super active on a daily basis. I’ve quit the old groups that I was active in on Flickr and don’t use Flickr groups anymore though. The biggest problem with Flickr groups today is that Flickr lacks an effective way to block people. Some of Flickr’s groups (including those that I was active in) would attract the absolute worst sort of people in the world — trolls, griefers, harassers. I watched human beings do some of the most ugly things that I’ve ever seen human beings do inside of Flickr’s groups.
While Flickr has *some* mechanisms to deal with the psychotic, anti-social, and evil people in this world, what groups ultimately lack (and why I don’t use Flickr groups anymore) is a robust blocking tool (like Google+ has). On Google+ when you block somebody, they are really blocked. Not only can they not comment on your threads, anywhere that they exist on Google+ they are filtered out of your experience, they become 100% invisible to you. When the truly horrible people of the world began harassing you on G+ you simply block them and never have to deal with them again. They can still enjoy Google+ and still interact with everyone who is not blocking them, but it makes it much harder for them to harass *you* when you can’t see anything that they are doing.
By contrast, when you block someone on Flickr, although they can’t comment on your photos anymore, they can still comment in the groups that you are in and you have to see their vile hatred. They can also stalk you and follow you around Flickr putting comments on photos after you comment so that you see their comments in your recent activity stream, etc. There is no way on Flickr to filter out this sort of harassment at present.
Google’s superior blocking functionality does something more than just clean up your social experience though. Because the consequence for anti-social behavior is so dire (with Google’s complete and total block) it actually encourages people to be on better behavior. People are friendlier and more polite because those that just want to hurt other people or cause grief are quickly marginalized into obscurity as more and more people block them. Bad behavior removes your soapbox on Google+. Although Flickr does allow a group administrator the power to ban trolls, it doesn’t give group members the same freedom to filter them out of their personal experience. It’s either you choose the group or you don’t. You take it as it is and have no control over what you see in your group and what you don’t.
If a user decides he/she is going to bomb the group threads with SCAT porn (as has been done in Flickr groups in the past) there is no mechanism for you to take control over that account and filter it out. Instead you have to wait for an admin to come around and deal with it, or report it to Flickr to eventually deal with it. This makes groups a hostile place on Flickr and I’ve watched many of the best Flickr accounts completely abandon groups. The sad thing is that Flickr could clear this up so quickly just by adopting Google+’s superior approach of allowing us a total and complete blocking tool. For the life of me I have no idea why Flickr would want to force people who don’t want to interact with each other to interact. You should be able to block anyone for any reason.
The other thing that Flickr groups need is the ability to hide certain threads and filter them out of your flickr experience. Thread bumping can contribute to conversation in groups, but inevitably there are threads that you are just not interested in. I may love a group and love participating in it, but if I hate football, why should I have to keep seeing the “who is going to win the superbowl” thread? Why not let me filter whatever threads I want out of my group experience?
Also if I *really* like a certain thread, I should be able to subscribe to it. Flickr should then give me a single page where I can view all of the threads that I’m subscribed to across all groups sorted by recent activity. This would create much more cross pollination of groups and also help me ensure that I don’t miss the threads that I care the most about.
Finally, flickr needs to create a simple group thread reader on the mobile. These are Flickr’s most active users. Flickr should want them engaging in group threads while they are in line at the supermarket instead of browsing around on Instagram or Facebook. Today’s mobile app lacks any ability to browse group threads on Flickr and trying to view an actual thread page on flickr with a mobile browser is nearly impossible. Getting group threads into mobile should be a top priority for Flickr as the thread addicts are the most hardcore users on Flickr of all.