Archive for the ‘Flickr’ Category

Dear Marissa Mayer, Please Give Us a Tool to Better Block Bad Actors on Flickr

As an opinionated blogger, watching Flickr roll out recent changes to the site this past week has been an interesting experience, to say the least.

Thanks, Marissa Mayer, for making Flickr awesome again. Thanks also to the Flickr team who have worked so hard to roll out these changes. The new Flickr is the most photo immersive experience anywhere on the web. It is far more engaging and far more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

Witnessing and countering in the vile hatefest that the Flickr Help Forum has become this past week has also been interesting. Simply for expressing my opinion in a public feedback forum on the new design, I’ve been called a shill, a troll, a sock puppet, a scrotum sack, and many things far worse that I don’t really feel like printing.

I’ve been told that my photography is absolute crap, been accused of working for Yahoo, of being related to Marissa Mayer, of trying to pump up Yahoo’s stock price by supporting the changes — my work, motives and integrity have all been subject to relentless attacks there.

There is little civility in a forum taken over by the ugliest and most vulgar of what the web represents.

The vandalization of Marissa Mayer’s own Flickrstream, and the encouraged vandalism in the same forum, saddens me. To see someone leave an offensive comment on a Mother’s Day Photo, of all things, makes Flickr less of a place to want to spend time.

One Flickr staffer had to actually turn off public comments on his Flickrstream. “You are going to hell,” was the comment that made him turn them off.

There is, at least, a partial answer to this problem: give us a tool to block other users on Flickr.

Flickr already does have a blocking feature of course, it’s just super weak and only prevents someone from leaving a comment on one of *your* photos.

On the other hand, even if you block someone, they can still attack you in all sorts of other places on Flickr, where you spend time. Flickr users should be able to use the public areas of the site without being subject to vile personal attacks. The Help Forum, Groups, other people’s photos, all should be places where Flickr users can visit and feel safe and comfortable.

I left Flickr groups for good a few years back (so did a lot of my friends). The reason why I left was that groups were becoming too ugly. Especially as an opinionated and high profile user, I found myself subject to constant terrible attacks. There was nothing that could really be done about this. Sure, you could report someone violating the Flickr Community Guidelines to Flickr, and maybe 5 days later their account would be deleted, but then they’d just make up a new troll account and be right back at it over and over again.

It was simply easier to just leave the public community of Flickr than to deal with the hate.

When I first joined Google+, I saw some of these same bad actors appear over there, too. I’d watch both myself and my good friends be attacked by others — jealous, petty haters and trolls, mostly. But then Google did a really smart thing. Google rolled out a really strong blocking tool and, just like that, all the hate went away.

You see, on Google+, when you block somebody, they become entirely invisible to you. They are entirely filtered out of all of your views on G+. Poof. Gone for good, not just in your stream, but *everywhere* for you on the site — and that has made Google+ a far better, nicer and more polite place for community than Flickr. Where the Flickr community is a negative hatefest, the G+ community is the most amazing, optimistic, supportive community I’ve ever known online.

You see, blocking the worst of the web doesn’t just filter it out of your view. The more significant thing that it does is it *encourages* civility.

Right now on Flickr we have no power against incivility. People can be as nasty and as rude and as ugly and as disrespectful as they want. They can spam the Flickr help forum with images of excrement (as they actually did last week) and you can’t do a damn thing about it — but if you give us the ability to block these bad actors, then their power is reduced. They know that as soon as they begin the ugliest of hate that the vast majority of positive contributing members will simply block them. Their audience is diminished and soon they are standing on a soap box shouting only to the 10 or so other users who share their hate filled outlook on life.

Before I quit using Flickr groups, one particular nasty member was looking at the photos that I was favoriting (this is forced public and Flickr won’t allow me to control who gets to see it — unlike on G+ where it is private) and this person began leaving vile comments on every photo that I was commenting on. This way, every single one of their comments was showing up in my recent activity, even though I’d blocked them from commenting on my own photos. That’s just wrong.

If Flickr wants to be a place where community can flourish, they need to give us tools to protect ourselves from the hate.

Marissa, I don’t need to tell you how bad the hate can be on Flickr. If you’ve reviewed your own Flickrstream this past week, you know what I’m talking about. It’s deplorable. Especially when any user can so easily just keep making anonymous troll account after anonymous troll account — please, give us a tool to remove the bad actors from our Flickr experience.

This week’s new design work was fantastic, now let’s go to work on improving the community for those of us who want to positively contribute there as well.

Top 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of the New Flickr

Earlier this week, Flickr rolled out the most significant changes to their service since purchased by Yahoo back in 2005.

In addition to a major web redesign and a new Android app, Flickr also changed the basic fee structure of their account types and storage limits.

Former Pro users are being allowed to retain their $24.99 year fee structure for unlimited, ad free service. If you are a Pro account user, nothing changes if you want to keep it.

Free account users were all given 1 terabyte of free high res photo storage. Free accounts are still ad supported, as they have been in the past, but now you are no longer limited to only viewing your 200 most recent uploads to the site.

Despite the typical torch and pitchfork mob rage emanating from the Flickr Help Forum*, (a group of super negative Flickr users representing less than .01% of all Flickr users), I’ve found over the past week that engagement on my own photos is up dramatically. More specifically, based on my Flickr stats page, engagement (as measured by comments and favorites) is up approximately 294% on my own photos since the new release.

*Dear Marissa Mayer, PLEASE, give us the ability to block users on Flickr, it would make it a much nicer place for those of us who want to enjoy it. :)

I have no way of knowing, more broadly speaking, if the stats numbers look this good for Flickr in general, but if they do, I suspect that they are very happy indeed with the success of this week’s new features.

This post is not meant to be a debate about the new changes; this post is for those of you who are ok with the site design and are now looking for ways to get the most out of it.

On with the list.

Tip #1, Make The Last Photo You Upload in a Batch Count

1. Consider a strategy for uploading your batches of photos. I upload two batches of photos to Flickr a day — one in the morning and one in the evening. Your upload strategy and the ordering of your batch uploads matters. With the new Flickr redesign, photos on the flickr.com homepage are really, really, big. Big photos get far more engagement. However, the only photo that gets shown ginormous on the flickr.com homepage is the very last one that you upload. The 5 before that are shown as small thumbnails there.

So, if you are uploading a batch of photos to Flickr, make sure the one that is uploaded last is the best of the batch. Also, landscape oriented and square photos show up much larger on the flickr homepage than portrait oriented crops. So, all other things being equal, consider making sure your last photo uploaded in a batch to Flickr is one of your strongest square or landscape oriented photographs.

Tip #2, Flickr is Your New Cloud Photo Back Up

2. Anyone who ever complains about losing photos on a crashed hard drive again is just dumb. While you, of course, should not depend on Flickr as your sole backup strategy, everyone now has a free 1TB drive in the sky for photos.

Even if you don’t want to share certain photos, or you only want to share them with your very close friends and family, upload them to Flickr anyways and mark them private or friends/family only. If nothing else, you will have a backup of last resort if you need to go get those photos later. I don’t know of anyplace else on the web where you can get 1TB of free storage. Take advantage of that not only for the photos you want to share publicly, but all your photos.

Hunt Peck

3. This is not necessarily a tip new to the new Flickr, but it’s one everyone ought to know about — keyboard commands..

On Flickr you can use the F key to fave a photo, the C key to comment on a photo, the G key to add a photo to a group, and the T key to tag a photo. This will make your Flickr experience much faster. For those complaining that, with larger photos, they now have to scroll down the page to comment, no you don’t — simply press the C key and you will jump right there, with your cursor right in place and ready to type.

Tip #4, More

4. … = MORE! This is a universal symbol on the internet for more. Anytime you see … anywhere, this means that there are things hidden underneath the … that you may want to find. It’s a good way for a site to de-clutter. I’ve seen many people ask where their favorite lesser used Flickr feature went (EXIF data, gallery functionality, all sizes, etc.). Just click on the … and you’ll find it all there.

Tip #5, Make Sure Your Sets Are in the Order You Want Them In

5. Make the most out of your sets. By default, Flickr puts your sets in the order created. Your most recent sets are shown first, and older sets are shown last. This may not be the best way to present your sets though. One of my most viewed sets is one of my oldest, my 10 faves or more set. If I didn’t manually move this to the top of my sets page, it would be buried in the over 1,800 sets I have on Flickr. Go to the Flickr organizer page here and make sure that your sets are in the order that you want them in.

If you have a lot of sets and find it cumbersome to move them around in the organizer (like I do). Shrink your browser view to super small and it will make more and more thumbnails in the organizer that are easier to move around.

Make sure your sets page shows your best sets on the first page. This will give people a great first impression of what your albums are all about.

Consider making a few “best of” sets on Flickr. If you use Jeremy Brooks’ SuprSetr app it will automatically tag all of your photos that have been favorited 10 times or more fav10. It can then build an album for you of just these popular photos of yours that you can highlight on your sets page.

Just Re-Upped for 2 More Years of Flickr PRO!!!

6. If you have a Flickr Pro account, do NOT let that expire. Your Flickr Pro account is worth more than it’s ever been worth in the past. It’s pure gold. Getting unlimited, high res, ad-free photos was the deal of a lifetime. Although Flickr is no longer offering this extraordinary deal anymore, if you have it, you get to keep it.

Go here to check on the status of your Flickr Pro and I’d recommend both renewing it now AND making sure you are set up as a recurring Pro so it automatically charges your credit card in the future. Don’t lose this awesome benefit.

Tip #7, Reupload Your Avatar

7. Make sure you reupload your Flickr avatar on the new Flickr. The old Flickr used a smaller version of your avatar, so you might notice that you have sort of this weird small avatar over a larger, dimmed out version of your old avatar on your Flickr page. You can reupload a better sized version of your avatar which will override this and make your new, larger avatar look much better.

Tip #8, Make Sure to Personalize Your Cover Photo

8. Change your cover photo. Flickr added a number of new cover photos by default with the new page design. Go to your page and change your cover photo to something new. Find a photo of yours (or a portion of a photo of yours) that uses an extreme landscape crop and will fit there and work well. I used a mosaic strip of photos for mine.

Tip #9, Review Who Calls You a Contact

9. Make sure to review your “who calls you a contact” page. This is a page that shows everyone on Flickr who has contacted you. You may be surprised that some of your friends have contacted you that you are not aware of. Review this list to see if you’ve missed any old or new friends on Flickr and add them back if you want.

Tip #10, Mobile

10. Make the most out of mobile. Although 95% of my own personal Flickr time is spent on the web version, don’t forget about mobile. Earlier this week, Flickr rolled out their Android app, which is every bit as good as their previous iPhone app and probably even better.

One of the easy things to do with this app is to favorite photos by your friends. Simply pull up your contacts photostream on the app and tap/tap to fave a photo. You can scroll down and see different friend’s photos or you can scroll sideways and see more photos from a single friend. When you have down time on the bus, or are waiting for your table at Bob’s Big Boy or wherever, use that time to favorite photos of your friends. They will see that and favorite your photos back most likely. :)

Ok Glass, Get Dogfood

Bonus tip: Get the new Flickr app for Google Glass. It’s awesome! ;) Just kidding. There’s no new Flickr app for Google Glass…

…yet.

You can find me on Flickr here.

Those Abusing Marissa Mayer’s Personal Flickrstream Should Be Ashamed of Themselves

Dear Marissa Mayer

As one of Flickr’s most active users, I’ve been watching intensively over the past 48 hours as the new Flickr design has been released. Personally speaking, I’m a fan. I think the new Flickr is the best version I’ve seen yet and agree with almost every design change that they made. That’s not what this post is about though; I’ve already given my opinion on the new Flickr here.

This post is about respect and civility.

As the drama of the new Flickr has unfolded, an element of what I consider to be the worst of the internet has taken to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s *PERSONAL* Flickr stream to express their disdain. Sure, Flickr (the company, not the person) has a dedicated Forum for users to discuss the new designs, which is way more than many companies provide, btw, but for some people this isn’t enough. They need to take their displeasure out personally on Mayer.

Even worse, many of the attacks on Mayer’s *PERSONAL* Flickr stream are crude, classless, vulgar personal attacks of the worst kind.

This is just absolutely awful.

Whatever people may think about the new design, there is a way to go about talking about change. It saddens me to see the lowest element of the web react this way. It saddens me to see people in the help forum egging others on to go post on Mayer’s personal page.

Ironically, it was “the internet” that asked Mayer to “make Flickr awesome again” when she first started up as CEO of Yahoo. Flickr had been neglected for years and finally Mayer would be our savior.

Then, she goes and actually DOES make Flickr awesome again and people freak the fcuk out. Gee, thanks a lot! At least the page that asked her to make Flickr awesome again gets it right.

Now, whether or not you love the new Flickr or hate it is your own opinion; design can sometimes be subjective — but to post images of excrement on someone’s personal Flickr page over that design opinion? Really? Watching people in the Help Forum encourage the trashing of someone’s personal Flickrstream is disturbing.

Mayer is the first ever CEO of Yahoo to have a public Flickr page. She goes out on a limb and participates in the community and this is what people do? They trash her *personally* over design decisions?

These people should be ashamed of themselves.

I am all about healthy debate. I’ve probably been more vocal and critical of Flickr than just about anyone over the years. I’ve also been a huge cheerleader for Flickr when I feel like they’ve done well. I love Flickr and want to see it be the best place it can possibly be. I may get emotional and heated in my opinions sometimes, but there is a way that debate should go on on the internet, and trashing someone’s personal stream is not it.

Mayer is the youngest CEO in the S&P 500. Whatever your opinion on her and her work, every intention she has with the new Flickr design is to make it BETTER. Being a highly visible CEO means taking a lot of flak. I understand that — but Marissa Mayer is also a human being, and deserves basic respect and civility — like EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING.

One of the reasons why I’ve largely quit Flickr Groups is because you can’t block people in Flickr Groups. I encountered some of the worst human beings I’ve ever met online in some Flickr Groups. Some of the folks who live on Flickr really are the worst of the worst. It’s disappointing seeing some of these same types take to someone’s personal Flickr stream.

Let’s try to show the world that there are still people on Flickr who can discuss and debate with dignity and respect. I think it’s fine to debate the new Flickr design. I think it’s fine to be strongly opinionated about it. I think it’s fine to attack the design itself and share why you dislike it. Attacking employees, though, is way over the line.

I have made my own mistakes on the web over the years. I, too, have, in the past, let my emotions get the best of me. It’s easy to get angry sometimes and I’m certainly capable of overreacting. I’ve tried to learn from these mistakes, though. It’s so much better to attack ideas than individuals. Hate is so ugly.

We are better than this.

The Hangout Where We Review the New Flickr

Last night I recorded a special hangout show with nine other Flickr users where we talk about the new changes at Flickr. In the show we give a tour of the new Flickr, discuss/debate the changes, and provide Pro Tips on how to make the best of the new design.

We also review the recent changes in your account options and discuss the differences between Free, Paid and the old Pro account.

To get a look at what some of Flickr’s active users think of the new changes check it out.

What do YOU think of the New Flickr?

How Flickr [Update DIDN'T] Screw Me Out of My Pro Account On a San Francisco Photo Walk

Just Re-Upped for 2 More Years of Flickr PRO!!!

BIG UPDATE!

GREAT NEWS! Since writing this blog post late last night Flickr has fixed this problem. I just noticed on my Flickr account page I have now been given the choice to extend my Flickr Pro account just like recurring Pros. This is awesome. So awesome in fact that I just re-upped for two more years of PRO!!!!!

Thank you Flickr for fixing this and in less than 24 hours! Now that’s customer service!

Earlier today, I wrote a blog post about today’s new changes at Flickr which included a free, ad-supported terabyte of storage for all Flickr users. In my article I referenced that Flickr Pro account users would be given an opportunity to stay Pro going forward. I reported this because this, in fact, was my understanding of what was told to me by a Flickr Senior Manager in a briefing earlier this morning before the announcement.

Unfortunately, I found out the hard way, later today, that this is not, in fact, the case.

In actuality, only *some* of Flickr’s Pro accounts are eligible to retain Pro status. More specifically, users had to be paid Pro accounts in January of 2013 and be set up for auto renewal at that time. If you were not specifically a paid, recurring Pro account user in January of 2013, set up on renewal, you will now be screwed out of your Flickr Pro account.

In my case, in August of 2011, I complained to Flickr about an error in their stats reporting. I had to send in several complaints about the same problem, but finally Flickr customer service acknowledged the error in their stats reporting. They said that they’d fix this error and that to make up for my inconvenience they would “gift” me 6 months of Flickr Pro.

My Pro account was set to expire in 2012 but I used another “gift” certificate from Flickr. This time it was a gift certificate that they handed out to all photowalkers on a big Flickr San Francisco photowalk.

Because I applied this 6 months of free pro that Flickr gave to every photowalker at the SF photowalk, my account was not set up to recurring Pro in January of 2013.

So, after paying consistently for two year at a time of Pro on Flickr for years, my Flickr Pro account is now NOT eligible for renewal, and I’m not grandfathered into the Pro Flickr service.

This blows.

How Flickr Screwed Me Out of My Pro Account On a San Francisco Photo Walk

I wish I’d never accepted the Flickr trojan horse “gift” of 6 months of free Pro at the San Francisco Photowalk. If I’d not accepted it then I could be grandfathered as a paid Pro account along with everyone else. As it stands now, my Pro account will expire in July of this year with no way to renew it.

Now I’ll be forced to pay Flickr twice as much ($49.99 instead of $24.99) to remove my ads — and since I probably use more than a terabyte of storage, my Flickr fees will probably increase from $24.95/year to $499.99/year.

Earlier today I thought Flickr was doing a very fair thing by allowing Pro accounts to continue on as Pros by paying $24.95 per year. I’ve invested thousands of hours uploading over 80,000 photos to Flickr with the understanding that I was purchasing unlimited photo storage.

Now, today, I’ve been screwed out of my deal because I made the mistake of attending Flickr’s San Francisco photowalk and redeeming a 6 months certificate for free Pro that they handed out.

This is just wrong and also contrary to what I was told earlier today.

Flickr should allow ALL Pro account users the ability to keep their Pro status, and not discriminate against those of us who happened to attend their San Francisco Photowalk last year.

There is a post on Flickr’s help forum about this here, where a Flickr staffer confirms that only some of Flickr Pro accounts are eligible for renewal.

I’m assuming that Flickr will sort some of this out before my Pro account expires in July, but I’m certainly concerned that Flickr would so easily take away Pro accounts from long time members who have supported the site with paid Pro accounts over the years. To offer someone unlimited uploads only to renege on that promise later for attending one of their photowalks feels wrong to me.

I’m still a big fan of today’s design changes and the 1 terabyte free account that Flickr unveiled today, but disappointed that long time Pro account users may now lose their Pro account status.

You can check to see if you are eligible to renew your Flickr Pro account here. If it doesn’t specifically say your Flickr Pro account will renew automatically on this page, you may be screwed too.

Holy Mash Potatoes Batman! Flickr to Offer All Users 1 Terabyte of Free High Res Photo Storage!

New Flickr Photo Page Design

Wow! Well just when you thought the Tumblr acquisition was the big Yahoo news of the day, Yahoo drops yet another bombshell. All free accounts on Flickr just got upgraded to 1 terabyte of FREE storage!

Yep, you heard that correctly; the Flickr 200 photo limit for free accounts is being done away with. If you’re one of those Flickr users who, in the past, complained about Flickr holding your photos beyond 200 in a free account “hostage,” well, the Navy Seals at Flickr HQ have just set them all free.

Starting today, everyone will be able to upload full high res photos up to 50MB to Flickr for FREE up to 1 terabyte. For the .01% of the population who might store more than a terabyte on Flickr, Flickr will sell you an additional terabyte beyond your free one for $499 per year. So 2 terabytes at Flickr would cost you $499.99/year Flickr’s pricing and limits are here.

By comparison, Google would charge you about $1,199 for 2 terabytes of storage per year and only gives you 15GB of high res storage for free. Facebook doesn’t allow high res photos at all and won’t allow photos larger than 2048px on the site.

While this might sound really great for today’s free account users, it should be noted that the new free 1 TB account will contain advertising. If you want to opt out of advertising on your free account, you will need to pay $49 per year….

…unless…

you are already an existing Pro account member. While Flickr will no longer offer new Pro accounts, existing Pros will be allowed to keep their Pro account and continue paying $24.95/year for full unlimited high res ad free storage (still the best deal in my opinion).

If a user wants to downgrade from their current paid Pro account today, Flickr will allow them to do this and claim their 1TB free/ad supported account and rebate back the residual remaining value on their Pro account early.

In my opinion, this is a game changer. Just last week at Google I/O, Google upgraded everyone from 5GB of free, high res storage to 15GB of free, high res storage, but upgrading from 15GB to 1TB is quite a leap from there.

Of course, on Google+ there are no ads, and on a 1TB free Flickr account a user would see ads.

You have to love competition in the online photo space and today Flickr is raising the stakes. This will likely put more pressure on Google and Facebook both to consider increasing high res storage for users as well.

While giving all users 1TB of free storage was the biggest news from Flickr today, it is only the beginning.

In addition to offering all users 1TB of free storage, today Flickr also ships their highly anticipated Android app. Many users were super excited late last year when Flickr rolled out their new iPhone app. I reviewed the iPhone app here. Now Flickr is bringing a similar, amazing mobile experience to Android users. I was able to see the new app prior to release and it is truly awesome — I’d say even BETTER than the highly regarded 4.5/5 rated iPhone version — one more reason to switch to Android right?

But there’s more…

In addition to an increase in storage limits and a new Android app, Flickr is also shipping today a complete redesign of the entire site. The new version is amazing and beautiful and full of mosaic walls of photos with infinite scroll everywhere. Gone are the days of tiny little thumbnail results using Flickr image search (my favorite feature in today’s new site redesign). Instead, now you see big, bold images of whatever you’re looking for.

Sets on Flickr were also given this same facelift. With the old Flickr, the sets page looked the same as it had since as long as I can remember (I joined Flickr in 2004). Sets contained super tiny little teensy weensy thumbnails of square icons for photos. Today’s release showcases photos in sets in much larger format.

The Flickr photo page now shows a giant, oversized version of your photo with just enough basic photo info above the fold on the page to tempt the user into scrolling down for more. The Flickr recent activity stream now shows giant, oversized photos by your contacts and lots of new information.

It really is a whole new Flickr in the best way possible.

Undoubtedly there will be some critics of the new Flickr site, just like there were critics when the automobile came out and some crotchety old folks still wanted to use their horse and buggy. This is, however, in my opinion the single most positive day for innovation being released by Flickr ever.

Last night when digesting all of the Yahoo Tumblr news, I posted on Twitter, Flickr + Tumblr = chocolate + peanut butter. I’m a huge fan of Reeces Peanut Butter Cups and I think that, in addition to this Flickr news today, future innovation coming from Tumblr and the Tumblr team will only be positive for Flickr. Already, I get the most viral views on my Flickr photos from Tumblr more than any other site. By deepening the Flickr/Tumblr integration, this will create even more synergy for Yahoo.

Maybe instead of titling this post “Holy Mash Potatoes Batman,” I should have titled it “How Yahoo got its Groove Back” — because with what’s gone on there over the past 24 hours, I’d say Yahoo, once again, is a power player in social media.

There is still work at Flickr that needs to be done — groups (now rebranded communities) still need a refresh, for example — but after failing to innovate for years, Yahoo is showing the world that Flickr is indeed super important to their company and that photos are very important to a biggr, boldr, more beautiful Yahoo going forward. Yahoo is investing heavily in Flickr (they are hiring), the first Yahoo CEO ever has an actual active Flickr account, and staff morale feels super high. Flickr VP Brett Wayn and Flickr Head of Product Markus Spiering, are leading the charge, backed by strong commitment from senior management and an enthusiastic all-star team who is pushing out the most significant innovation we’ve seen at Flickr yet.

Congrats to the Flickr team on a wonderful release today. More from Markus on the Flickr Blog here.

You can find me on Flickr here and posting again on Tumblr now here.

Thanks to Flickr for Featuring Me and My Photography on the Flickr Blog

Thanks so much to Yahoo and Flickr for featuring me and my photography today on the Flickr blog and the Weekly Flickr. I joined Flickr back the year that they started in 2004 and publish photos there every single day. It’s been a wonderful place to build my library and archive and publish my photography. I thought they did a really nice professional job with this video. Thanks!

Did Instagram Lose 25% of Their Users Over Their TOU Debacle?

The NY Post is out with a somewhat sensationalistic article this morning suggesting that based on data by AppData that Instagram MAY (emphasis on MAY) have lost 25% of their users based on last week’s TOU debacle. From the Post:

“[We are] pretty sure the decline in Instagram users was due to the terms of service announcement” on Dec. 17, AppData told The Post.

Instagram, which peaked at 16.4 million active daily users the week it rolled out its policy change, had fallen to 12.4 million as of yesterday, according to the data.”

The NY Post of course has a certain reputation when it comes to journalism (remember the photo of the guy about to be hit by the subway train?).

Staci Kramer, whose journalistic reputation is stellar, pointed me to another article on the subject written by Zach Seward suggesting that the Post story was “bogus.”

Seward does a bit of analysis on the Post’s piece and suggests that it’s flawed for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the data is based on a subset of the users not the entire user base. This is of course the first way to attack any sort of statistical data. It’s why we have the famous margin of error. I don’t know how big a subset of Instagram users this data represents, but in general if you have a large enough subset, you should get a reasonably representative view of things.

Is the Instagram data flawed for this reason? Who knows.

I find Seward’s second claim more questionable though. Seward seems to be suggesting that the reason for the decline in activity has less to do with the Instagram TOU debacle and more to do with something much more obvious, Christmas.

From Seward: “But more to the point, the drop in active daily users of Instagram’s application on Facebook occurred between Dec. 23 and Dec. 25, according to AppData. (Look for yourself!) Instagram released its new terms of use on Dec. 17, igniting controversy almost immediately, but AppData doesn’t show any significant decline in usage until Christmas.”

So this little bit got me thinking. Historically speaking the holidays are a very strong time for photo sharing sites. It makes sense. People take a ton of photos of family during these times and like to share these photos. Just last month, for example, Instagram was crowing about how great a Thanksgiving Holiday they had had. They had a blog post especially dedicated to the “record usage” on Thanksgiving.

Is Christmas really a time when people slow down on photo sharing, as Seward might suggest? Do we like to share photos of our turkeys and stuffing but not our Christmas trees and stockings? Do people share fewer photos on Christmas than Thanksgiving?

Flickr of course is seen by many as a natural beneficiary of Instagram’s TOU debacle. Anecdotally I’ve been seeing more and more and more of these sorts of posts. So I wonder when people posted more photos on Flickr — Thanksgiving or Christmas?

My analysis is fairly crude, and I’m not at all calling it scientific, but you can get a rough idea of the number or photos posted on Flickr during a time frame by looking at the unique number that Flickr affixes to every new photo uploaded.

I post pretty much every single morning on Flickr, so let’s look at my stream for an example.

The very first photo I posted on Thanksgiving morning this year was this one. I posted it at 6:12 a.m. This photo represents the 8,208,796,934th photo posted to Flickr. Almost 24 hours later when I posted my first photo the day after Thanksgiving at 5:43 a.m. it was given the number 8,210,250,875.

This means that in the (almost) 24 hour span between early Thanksgiving on the West Coast and the day after there were about 1,453,941 photos posted to Flickr.

Now, how many photos were posted to Flickr during the similar time frame on Christmas?

I published my very first photo to Flickr on Christmas morning at 5:55 a.m. It was given upload number 8,306,197,725. A little over 24 hours later on the day after Christmas at 6:02 a.m. I uploaded photo number 8,309,811,751 at 6:02 a.m.

So between these two time periods there were 3,614,026 photos uploaded to Flickr.

Roughly speaking there were over twice as many photos posted on Flickr over Christmas than over Thanksgiving. Even if you average out the exact number of minutes between the two days (my time between posts on Christmas had an extra 36 minutes between posts) the Flickr data would still seem to hold up.

While people may share photos differently on Instagram than they do on Flickr, both are basically photo sharing sites where you share photos of your friends, family, holidays, etc.

I find Seward’s suggestion that Christmas is possibly the real reason for Instagram’s usage decline to be dubious in light of this Flickr data.

Why would people upload 2x as many photos on Flickr at Christmas over Thanksgiving but not on Instagram? One answer of course could be Flickr’s awesome new mobile app. Of course this new mobile app would seem to be aimed most directly at Instagram users leading me to believe that Instagram probably has actually lost ground between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How much of this is attributed to the TOU debacle and how much of this is attributed to the new Flickr app I don’t know, but I certainly don’t think “Christmas” is a very good reason for why the Post’s data is flawed, or worse, “bogus” as Seward would suggest.

Flickr also recently gave every user 3 months of free Pro service — they certainly seem to be taking advantage of Instagram’s misstep here.

So where did those 25% of Instagram users go who MAY have left the service POSSIBLY over the TOU issue? Well, MAYBE at least SOME of them went to Flickr.

Apparently Instagram denied the 25% number to Gizmodo but didn’t really clarify much beyond that.”

‘”This data is inaccurate,” an Instagram spokesperson told us. “We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram.”‘

Joy to the World, Flickr Offers 3 Months of Pro for FREE!

Joy to the World, Flickr Offers 3 Months of Pro for FREE!

I saw an unusual notification on my Flickrstream this morning — you probably did too. It seems that Flickr just offered to extend to every account on Flickr (and new accounts too) three months of free Pro service. Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

Thank you Flickr!

This is an absolutely brilliant move on Flickr’s part, for many reasons.

First, the timing of this offer could not be better. After last week’s Instagram fiasco, Flickr signed up a lot of new accounts. Now these new accounts get to have the cleanest advertising free Flickr experience possible during those formative first three months.

Folks will like the paid service more than the free version and after three months they’ll be more invested in the site than after two days, and potentially will be more likely to keep paying. Flickr is also signing up more new accounts due to their fantastic new mobile app.

Second, Flickr limits Pro accounts to 200 visible photos. More active users will post more than 200 photos there in the next three months. After their Pro term is up, they will want to see their photos that will then disappear (or the critic might say “held hostage”), the only way to do that will be to reup and pay for more Pro service.

If people are not paying attention to the 200 photo limit, they will be more likely to reup when they have 300 photos uploaded than if they have 200 uploaded and all of a sudden notice that photo number 201 is not showing up. Most people will just quickly accept the offer rather than carefully consider the differences between free and Pro accounts and Flickr will end up with more Pro accounts three months from now than they would have had without the offer. Some will stick.

Third, the Holidays are an especially important time to be out there recruiting new accounts. People share a lot of family photos during the Holidays and Flickr is striking while the iron is hot here at just the right time. BTW, those important family Christmas photos will be some of the first to disappear for new Flickr accounts three months from now. ;)

Fourth, activity begets activity. You will be more likely to use a Pro Flickr account than a free Flickr account. Already Flickr is seeing a big influx of new relationships because of their new find friend features with Twitter and Facebook.

If you haven’t logged into your Flickr account in a while, log in now and look at your recent activity. What you’ll notice is a lot more people have been adding you as a contact. You’ll also notice that a lot of the familiar names are people that are connected to you on Twitter and Facebook. That’s because your friends are using the new Flickr iOS mobile feature that allows you to add your Facebook and Twitter friends to Flickr. More people will be hoping on Flickr to claim their free Pro upgrade and notice all the new activity and be more likely to engage.

BTW PRO TIP: If you are an Android user, you don’t need the iOS app to add your Facebook friends. You can do that on the web here.

Now, the free gift doesn’t come without just a tiny bit of controversy though. Although Flickr in NO WAY changed their Terms of Use or their Community Guidelines (this is important and smart after the Instagram debacle), they DID, for the first time that I’m aware of, put users on warning that unlimited at Flickr really does not in fact truly mean unlimited. All of us seasoned and cynical internet geeks knew this anyways, but I’ve never seen Flickr say it before. Tacked on to today’s free gift is the following bit:

“Note: To avoid abuse of our unlimited storage, we do monitor accounts for excessive usage. Yahoo! limits the number and size of photos allowed from an account within a given timeframe. While our goal is to ensure that everyone benefits from unlimited storage, Flickr is not intended to be used as a content distribution network.”

Aha! Say what? Wait, a minute, what’s this all about?

Users have already raised this issue with Flickr in their help forum and so far there is no definitive answer as to what exactly constitutes this sort of abuse. I doubt you’ll see one either.

Flickr’s deal with us in the past has always been that Pro accounts get an unlimited number of photos to upload. For someone like me who is planning on publishing one million photos to the web during my lifetime, this has always been a huge benefit in using Flickr over other services. To publish the same amount of photos I’ve already published to Flickr at Google’s Picasa, it would cost me hundreds of dollars a year. I am clearly taking advantage of the whole unlimited storage thing at Flickr with over 77,000 high res photos up there currently. At $24.95/year for me, this is a HUGE bargain.

It’s fine that I’m doing this by the way, and all in, even though it probably costs Flickr more to store my photos than I pay in subscription fees, my photos make up for it in other ways (by driving more users to Flickr as a community member, through my participation in the program with Getty, etc.). I’m probably still actually a profitable account to Flickr all things considered.

Personally speaking, I feel 99.9% confident that even uploading a million photos to Flickr during my lifetime I will not run afoul of this new notice. That’s because I’m doing the sort of thing on the site that is good for Flickr. I’m a good community member. Although I’m very prolific and using Flickr in an extreme way, I’m basically using it for what it is meant for, to share my photos with my friends and the world.

If I was truly doing something abusive (like uploading a million private high res copies of the exact same black square 24 hours a day and just chewing up bandwidth and storage for no apparent reason) I’d probably be shut down.

So for the 99.9% of you out there who read that notice and worry a little bit, don’t. You are not who Flickr is concerned with here. Besides, you can always say, why is Thomas Hawk allowed to upload so many photos if I can’t. ;) Unlimited really does mean practically unlimited for almost every conceivable authentic use case for Flickr.

By the way, even without this sort of “excessive use” disclaimer from Flickr today, Flickr always could have deleted your account for excessive use in the past anyways. Flickr’s Community Guidelines are wide enough to drive a Mack truck through. You can have your account deleted on Flickr simply for being “that guy.” So Flickr always has had the right to delete your account for essentially any reason that they feel like.

Anyways, thanks to Flickr for three extra months of Pro — a good marketing effort at just the right time. Flickr has really been firing on all cylinders lately and this is great to see. Now just give me that new Android app for New Year’s Day and justified photos in sets and search as a token of love on Valentine’s Day. Oh and better blocking tools and the ability to mute threads would be cool for Lincoln and Washington’s birthday! ;)

Why the Instagram Debacle Just Taught Every Tech Company to Take Your Photos More Seriously

Why the Instagram Debacle Just Taught Every Tech Company to Take Your Photos More Seriously

“Whatever kind of victory all those protests achieved, it wasn’t one for consumer rights — if anything, Instagram is the real winner here. The company just managed to score a round of positive press for retracting an unpopular change and give itself the ability to actually use photos in ads.” — Nilay Patel, The Verge

Over at the Verge Nilay Patel makes a case that the backlash earlier this week against Instagram’s unpopular TOS update was actually a loss for consumers, not a gain. He argues that Instagram’s current TOS is broader than their more explicit proposed one and so consumers are worse off, not better off. This is because Instagram technically still holds the rights to sell your photos under their current TOS, and even more broadly — the consumer backlash was misguided and really did more harm than good.

I disagree with Nilay and actually feel that this week’s backlash was one of the more significant movements yet for photo sharing on the web.

It’s not that Facebook (whose TOS is equally broad) and Instagram couldn’t legally sell your photos on the web under their broad TOS in the past or in the future, it’s that *politically* it is now far more difficult for them to begin selling your photos out from under you on the web using their broader TOS.

Who cares what the TOS says — the message that Facebook got loud and clear this week is not to f*** with our photos. Our photos are important. We care about them. They are much more personal than Facebook may have previously considered. They have emotional importance and significance and collectively users will rise up and bash you in the face if you try to exercise terms of your TOS that your lawyers have written to allow you to screw around with our photos.

Whatever your future monetization strategies might be, they will not be based on a loss of control over OUR creative efforts — even our duckface creative efforts.

No, there is no question about it. Instagram lost this week, and they lost big. This is in no way a positive for Instagram. People trust them less now and they had to turn around and eat crow — they gained nothing.

Flickr won big at Instagram’s expense and Google+ won a little. Flickr won more, because like Instagram, their site is 100% about photography. They also just released a pretty awesome new iPhone app that is, in fact, even slickr than what Instagram currently offers.

Flickr also went out of their way last year to really drive home the ownership rights of your photos. This old forgotten post was revived with new life as a stark contrast to what it felt like Instagram was trying to pull. Kevin Systrom eventually even had to parrot back some of that “yes, we know your photos are your photos” stuff in his awkward non-apology apology.

Dan Lyons wrote a post that talked about Google+ winning some here too. Google+ smartly has a provision in their TOS that specifically limits their rights to your photos to basic operational use. Google+ is probably the most active community of photographers on the web today and are a natural beneficiary from what Lyons’ refers to as “Facebook Greedheads.”

The biggest winner of all though was you, the photographer. Whatever Instagram’s original intention was with the new language in their TOS, it backfired on them. The idea that they could/would profit off your emotionally significant photos without your consent, authorization or, most important, sharing the dough hit a nerve with photographers and likely won’t be tried again by anyone for a long time.

The thing is, this didn’t have to be such a painful learning experience for Instagram. There was/is, in fact, a HUGE opportunity for some smart social network to make a ton of money off of your photos. Instagram just went about it wrong.

As much as Flickr’s deal with Getty sucks (photographers get a miserly 20% payout) photographers on Flickr still went bonkers for it when Flickr released it. The idea that you could actually get PAID to post your photos on a social network, paid ANYTHING, had most users on Flickr clamoring to get into the program, not out of the site.

Even though Flickr/Getty’s call for artists group is now closed (due to overwhelming demand) almost 90,000 photographers joined this group hoping to get selected by Getty for the right to sell their photos for the paltry 20% payout.

The difference with Flickr’s deal though is that 1. you CHOOSE to opt in and 2. at least you get paid something.

What if, instead of Instagram saying, “hey, we might sell your photos without your consent and pay you NOTHING,” they said, “hey, do you want to sell your Instagram photos and, if we sell them for you, split the money 50/50″? Instead of losing accounts and becoming the scourge of the internet for three days, they would have had photographers rushing to sign up and begin marketing their images on Instagram.

Although there are sites out there like 500px and SmugMug that let you sell your photos now, Flickr is the only larger social network that has a selling program. Google+, Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter all have a major opportunity to become the first large social network to allow us to license our images through their service and share in the revenue with them. This is a multi-BILLION dollar industry dominated at present by Getty who is not paying creatives enough for their work. What the internet does best is get rid of middlemen when they are being unreasonable, and an 80/20 split with photographers is unreasonable.

Instead of stealing our work and paying us zero, how about using your significant reach in reputation, marketing and search to partner with us and empower us to sell our work together. I guarantee you that whoever comes up with the best program first will have some of the best photography on the web flooding their network. Even if 99% of us never sell a single photo, simply giving us the feeling that we have the *opportunity* to sell a photo would be a powerful incentive to get us active and humming on your network.