Archive for the ‘Yahoo’ Category

Congratulations to Raymie Stata Yahoo’s New Chief Technology Officer

Well put on your purple parkas folks, Raymie Stata has just been promoted to CTO at Yahoo.

TechCrunch has all the juicy details:

Raymie Stata, Chief Architect at Yahoo has been promoted to the role of CTO and Senior Vice President, according to a post on Yahoo’s corporate blog. Stata will replace former CTO Ari Balogh, who left the company in April.

Stata joined Yahoo in 2004, and has led a number of significant tech initiatives across the company from re-imaging its technology stack, to spearheading search and advertising development work and architecting the company’s private cloud.

CTO is a pretty big position at Yahoo! I’d imagine. Congrats Raymie.

One quick question that hopefully you can answer as CTO of Yahoo.

Why does Yahoo censor flickr search results in Germany, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea? How does censoring these countries help bring about a more free and open web? Or does Yahoo not care about a more free and open web?

You can go congratulate Raymie yourself at the Yahoo! Anectdotal blog (warning comments there are censored, err… moderated).

So Which is More Offensive A Painting From The Art Institute of Chicago or Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Telling Mike Arrington to Fuck Off At a Public Tech Conference in New York City

Back Before the Supermodel, Plate 2

See that photo above?

It’s by a famous artist Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. It was painted in 1874. I took it last year when I visited the museum. It’s also a photo of mine that is presently being censored by Flickr. Apparently showing full frontal cock on Michelangelo’s David on Flickr’s ok, but showing the backside of a woman from a 1874 painting is not. After they censored it I sent them an email saying, “c’mon guys, really?” trying to have the censorship decision appealed. But after getting my email they told me that it needed to remain censored.

So let me ask you this. Which is more offensive, a photograph from a painting in a public all ages gallery in one of the finest cultural institutions in the world, or Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz very publicly telling Mike Arrington to “Fuck Off” at a crowded technology conference?

Another friend of mine had over 25,000 photographs of mannequins online. Flickr didn’t like that some of his mannequins apparently showed a little nipple so they just censored all 25,000 photos in his stream. Wouldn’t want anyone being offended now by seeing a little nipple on a mannequin that sits on a public street seen by thousands of people a day.

So I guess it’s ok for a CEO to say “Fuck Off,” a phrase that surely is offensive to some. But it’s not ok for users of her site to do things like say publish photographs of paintings or plastic mannequins. Personally I don’t give a fcuk if Carol says fkuc as much as she f*cking wants. But I think it’s a bit hypocritical for her to allow the censors at her Flickr site to censor things that are far less offensive. And it might be kinda nice to have the fukcin picture above uncensored, thanks.

You can watch Carol tell Mike to “fuck off” below yourself if you’d like:

Welcome to Yahoo Blake Irving

This morning Blake Irving penned a post over at Yahoo Anectdotal, Yahoo’s Corporate Blog, yodeling hello to the world in his new capacity as Chief Product Officer at Yahoo (staring May 17th officially). What follows is a comment that I left on his welcoming post regarding what I feel are serious issues regarding the management of Flickr. I’m also posting it here as an open letter to Blake in his new role. Good luck at Yahoo Blake and I hope that you can help bring a new era of transparency and openness to Yahoo’s Products.

Blake,

Welcome to Yahoo. Congratulations on your new role and I wish you all the success that you and Yahoo truly deserve.

I hope you take a serious look at some of the mismanagement of the Flickr product. As one of the most active users of this service for over five years and a huge Flickr fan, I’ve been troubled by the censorship at Flickr, especially over the past few years. I’ve been troubled by the censorship I’ve experienced on my own account personally. And I’ve also been troubled by the broader censorship that Flickr engages in on accounts almost every day as well as institutionally in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Korea and Germany.

Yahoo should stand for a free and open internet.

Yahoo has in Flickr one of of the most important cultural jewels of our lifetime. Great care should be taken in how you manage it.

Did you know that if Flickr staff delete your account that there is no way of getting it back — even if they delete it by mistake. That it’s permanent and irrevocable. That you could lose all of your photos, meta data and most significantly the rich socially created meta data around your photos spanning in some cases many years? Data that does not belong to Yahoo but that Yahoo is entrusted (and in many cases paid) to care for.

Yahoo’s users deserve not to have to worry about the destruction of our data based on the capricious mood or whim of someone on Flickr staff on any given Monday. Saner policies should be implemented that take an account private before total, full and complete destruction.

Flickr users (agan myself included) should not be censored for expressing ways to improve the site that don’t tow the company line. They should not be blacklisted from popular areas of the site for calling out bad business practices.

Over the years I’ve gotten the feeling that Yahoo simply does not care about Flickr. That it’s largely viewed as a barely profitable annoyance at the company.

I’d be happy to talk with you more about these concerns personally if you had an interest in really turning Flickr into what it could and should be.

Good luck in your new role at Yahoo. I’ve also posted this note as an open letter on my blog.

Thomas Hawk

An Open Letter to Bryan Lamkin, SVP, Consumer Products Group, Yahoo! Regarding “Yahoo!’s Open Strategy (Y!OS) to Make the Web More Open and Relevant”

Dear Bryan,

This morning I read your announcement over at Yahoo!’s Yodel Anecdotal Blog about your new relationship with Twitter. First off, congrats on that. While many of us have already moved on to more conversational platforms like FriendFeed and Google’s Buzz, Twitter indeed is huge. Kayne’s too busy being creative for it yet, but pretty much everybody else is there, even Oprah and John Mayor.

But there was one thing about your post that was bothering me and so I wanted to take a second and address it in a letter to you. And that was the phrase that you used in your blog post alligning this recent move with “Yahoo’s Open Strategy Y!OS” to make the web “more open and relevant.” (Emphasis mine, but to be fair, your words).

My biggest problem with your describing a Yahoo initiative to make the web more “open and relevant,” is that as a *heavy* Yahoo user, this has not been my experience. In fact my experience has been the opposite. So I read things like this and they just smack to me of pure PR spin, not as bad as Yahoo’s current Big Lie $100 million marketing campaign that “the internet is under new management, yours,” but something that should be addressed.

You see, when a company says they want to make the web more “open and relevant,” there are three ideas that immediately come to mind.

1. Uncensored.
2. Transparency.
3. Open Standards.

Uncensored. Bryan, did you know that if you live in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, India or Korea that Flickr censors your content? India was just quietly added to the countries that Yahoo censors last year, but it’s true. Are the people at Y!OS aware of this? Because censorship does *not* make the web a more open place. It makes the web a more closed place.

Did you know that some of what is censored out of these countries is stuff like public art and sculpture or paintings that hang in museums? I’m not kidding. I took a photograph of a painting hanging in the Oakland Museum of California in an all ages gallery for anyone (even kids to see) but if you live in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, India or Korea, Yahoo won’t let you see it. I wrote a blog post about this last year when Yahoo decided to censor another photograph of a painting that I took at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Heck, do you know that just last year here in the United States Yahoo nuked an entire group (Deleteme Uncensored) containing over 3,000 threads and conversations about things like politics and music and photography and art, without warning? As your Yahoo! staffer was deleting it she tweeted out (ironic, given today’s twitter announcement, huh) “I hate your freedom.”

Is this what Yahoo means by a more “open and relevant” web?

Transparency. Part of the transparency problem at Yahoo Bryan is that it’s near impossible to get any issues like those above addressed. Sometimes people turn to other outlets like Buzz (where if they are a high profile blogger with access to the mainstream media they *might* get their issues addressed). But generally there is no way to have a conversation about these sorts of issues. Criticism is verbotten. When people criticize, at least in the Flickr help forum, threads just get locked. Heck, I’m permanently banned from the Flickr help forum (more censorship) myself. At least I can write a blog post about some of these issues because, thank God, my blog isn’t on some sort of Yahoo platform.

Open Standards Does Yahoo support PubHubSubbub Bryan? If so, great, if not, why not? I’d like to be able to have my content at Flickr flow more freely (and quickly) over to your competitor Google on Buzz. Will you support this open technology in the future?

What about contact portability? One thing I’d like to do is to automatically import all of my current Flickr contacts over into Buzz. This could easily be done if the Flickr API contained email information where their emails (when they’ve explicitly chosen to share their email with me under their preferences) could be matched up to their buzz profiles. Does the Flickr API allow for this today? If not why not? Again, I’d ask these questions in the Help Forum instead but I’m permanently banned there.

Personally, I’d love to see some of these problems above fixed and I’d love to be able to really nod my head in agreement when I read that Yahoo is serious about a more “open and relevant web.” That would be much better than me shaking my head in disagreement and writing letters.

Feel free to have a conversation about these things in the comments below here, or I’ll also link this thread to the Yahoo! Anecdotal blog post and we can have them there, or by email, or heck even by phone. But don’t be a stranger, write back when you’re not so busy tweeting all over the place on Yahoo.

A Small Tweak Puts Truth In Yahoo’s Ads

The Internet is Under New Management "Ours"

DeleteMe Uncensored was a thriving online community of 3000 photographers and critics hosted by Flickr, the Yahoo-owned photo-sharing platform. The group, which had called Yahoo home for years, was a popular, user-governed hub of free speech. But then someone at Flickr pushed a button and within seconds, thousands of photographs, conversations and connections were obliterated. All because of one user comment that Flickr censors deemed inappropriate. Flickr didn’t issue a warning, it didn’t delete the thread – it simply pulled the plug.

More from Adbusters here.

Yahoo: The Internet is Under New Mangement ‘Ours’

The Internet is Under New Management Ours

Yesterday the Yahoo! executive who reportedly oversaw Flickr , Scott Dietzen, resigned from Yahoo! according to TechCrunch. It was also reported yesterday that Yahoo has now retained Goodby, Silverstein and Partners to somehow try and recover from their failing marketing campaign.

While Yahoo censors paintings of classical nudes from public museums, their employees are off getting public lap dances at Yahoo “Hack Day.”

How can Yahoo seriously expect us to accept their $100 million marketing big lie that "the internet is under new management, yours," when they carelessly and maliciously destroy customer data without so much as a warning?

Yahoo’s new $100 million marketing campaign should not read "the internet is under new management yours." It should read "the internet is under new management ours."

Until Yahoo learns to respect their users and their user data and embraces true community management rather than community mis-management, their outlandish marketing message will continue to fall on deaf ears.

Here is an open letter I wrote to the head of Yahoo’s Marketing efforts, Elisa Steele, regarding these problems.

Yahoo! Totally You = Totally Screwed

Yahoo!  Totally You = Totally Screwed

While Yahoo! professes to care about "you" in their new multi million dollar marketing campaign, in actuality Yahoo!’s Flickr destroys user data.

Your sites, your mail, your friends, your whatever, yes totally.

…unless your site is on Yahoo’s flickr and then they can nuke it whenever they feel like it.

More information here.

An Open Letter to Elisa Steele EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Yahoo Inc. on the New “The Internet is You,” Yahoo Marketing Campaign

An Open Letter to Elisa Steele EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Yahoo Inc. on the New "The Internet is You," Yahoo Marketing Campaign

Dear Elisa:

Last month when you announced Yahoo! Inc’s new multi-million dollar ad campaign including the tagline, “the internet’s under new management yours,” I wrote you an open letter. While admittedly the letter was critical and even a bit sarcastic at times regarding censorship on Yahoo’s photo sharing site Flickr, I nonetheless was hopeful that perhaps Yahoo was sincere in your latest marketing message. I thought the statement was much better than the last big Yahoo marketing campaign about everybody needing to wear purple clothes or whatever, and as someone who values customer service oriented companies, I thought it was a positive statement for Yahoo to make.

Unfortunately, at this point, however, I am going to have to call bullshit on your new campaign. I assume it’s ok with you that I’m using such strong language to describe your campaign. Your boss Carol Bartz has built a big reputation as a tough talker with salty language so I’m hoping you’ll understand.

You see Elisa, despite the fact that seemingly everywhere I turn in San Francisco I see another one of your new ads on a bus shelter somewhere, the message rings hollow. It’s doublespeak. It’s inauthentic.

Yesterday, your Flickr Community Manager Heather Champ destroyed a community on Flickr that was home to over 3,000 hard-core Yahoo users. It was a community of photographers, many of whom have spent years on Yahoo in a group that was rich and vibrant. The group had over 5,000 ongoing conversations in it. It’s where many of us lived on Yahoo. The group was in part dedicated to free speech, but it was so much more than that. The group was a place where we talked about music. Where we shared tips on photography. Where we debated about film vs. digital. Where we went to ask each other for advice on what lens we ought to purchase next. It was a place where many of us went to meet each day. It was a place where offline photography meetups were organized. We actually published a magazine together. Many of us became good friends in real life.

But yesterday, while we were conversing there, and without any warning or opportunity to take any sort of self-corrective action, your Community Manager went nuclear and destroyed all of that user data. All of it. Every last thread. With a push of a button. Threads that were meaningful and important to us.

This was data that did not belong to Yahoo! Elisa. You destroyed something that did not belong to you. You destroyed hours and hours of peoples hard work maliciously and callously. You destroyed a group dedicated to free speech, but more significantly you destroyed a group that thousands of people had put significant emotional energy into.

And do you know what your Community Manager was tweeting mere seconds before she nuked this very popular group Elisa? She was tweeting “I hate your freedom.”

That’s right Elisa I, hate, your, freedom. That’s the image that I chose to go with this letter to you. A screenshot of her freedom hating tweet.

While I’m sure your representative got a good laugh out of that tweet, personally I found it as offensive as the fact that so much user data was destroyed so callously in the first place. You see Elisa, Yahoo already has a problem with people thinking that you hate freedom. Remember when Jerry Yang got called before the U.S. Congress and was brow beaten after you all released private emails to the Chinese Govt which resulted in a Chinese journalist’s imprisonment to this day? Remember just last week when rumors (very unfounded rumors I might add) were flying that Yahoo! had released private information on thousands of freedom seeking dissidents to the Iranian Govt?

“I hate your freedom?” Really Elisa? This is the marketing message that you as Yahoo’s Chief Marketing Officer want to send out to the world as you rip apart an online community dedicated to free speech. It’s distasteful and it’s offensive.

You see Elisa, all the money spent in the world on bus stop billboards cannot make your marketing message ring true when the real voices, real human authentic voices online, ring out that the internet (at least at Yahoo!) is in fact very much not under our management at all. In fact our feelings are not taken into consideration one iota. We, thousands of us, are tossed aside, thrown out like garbage. Our hard work destroyed by you. Not only do actions like this invalidate your message, they create enormous ill will against Yahoo that will stand for many years going forward.

A number of help forum threads (now all conveniently locked down by your staff) were created over the destruction of this group. I will quote you the official Yahoo! statement, again from Ms. Champ stated in one of those locked threads:

“Flickr is a community with fences. If you want the open range, then unfortunately, what you want to do is beyond what we allow.”

You see how that reads Elisa? It does not read that Yahoo is all about “you” at all. It’s a patronizing statement that says Yahoo is not about what “you” want. It’s about what “we” want. I hope you can see how this statement directly contradicts your current marketing slogan that the internet is under new management, you.

I’m sure you are familiar with John Gilmore, Elisa, a well respected thinker who co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a quite respected organization that fights for freedom online. John Gilmore once said, “the Internet perceives censorship as damage and routes around it.” And that’s what many of us have now done. Many of us in the community that was destroyed have now decided that we will no longer use Yahoo for our community experience. Yahoo simply cannot be trusted to not destroy thousands of hours of our work in the future. Instead we will be using community space hosted by one of your competitors, FriendFeed, a site owned by Facebook.

You see, despite not having a large glitzy “the internet’s about you,” campaign, to my knowledge FriendFeed has never censored anyone. They have this really cool feature allowing users to block somebody if you don’t like what they have to say instead. It’s great. When you do that they just disappear entirely on the site for you. Poof. Magic. Rather than pay for salaries and benefits for a team of censors, they just let their users block content that they don’t like and let me tell you, it works *alot* better that way.

Interestingly enough Elisa, FriendFeed was founded in part by the very guy who came up with the Google (another one of your competitors) slogan, “don’t be evil,” — as a marketing exec I’m sure you realize how powerful of a corporate message that has turned out to be, much more powerful than everybody needs to wear purple.

I’d hope that you could see how nuking an entire group over what was a skirmish between maybe two members in the group might not make sense. You used a shotgun to kill a gnat.

Many things could have been done to more responsibly address the Yahoo concern in question. Admins of the group could have been warned and given an opportunity to take corrective action on their own, the single offending post could have been deleted rather than destroying thousands of posts 99.9% of which were entirely unoffensive, you could have simply removed what you found offensive and locked the group down, leaving a rich collection of user data to at least exist in an archive format for future reference for those who had created it.

It did not need to be nuked.

I do hope you take a moment out of your busy day to address this situation personally Elisa because it is damaging to both Yahoo’s brand and your own campaign that you are spending significant shareholder money on.

And as long as these are the types of actions that you and your management stand behind then your current campaign is very much meaningless indeed. I do also hope that you do not allow your staff to personally retaliate against me by nuking my own flickr photostream for writing to you what is in fact a very respectful letter.

Thomas Hawk

Flickr from Yahoo! Censors Inoffensive Basketball Video, Calls Censorship “Error”

Why does Flickr from Yahoo! always want to hate on basketball?

Take a look at the Youtube video above. It’s pretty boring in my opinion, just a few guys playing basketball. Nothing to see here, right folks? Move along.

Apparently somebody somewhere from the censorship division at Flickr from Yahoo though felt that this video needed to be removed. The user who uploaded the video tried to go through the proper Flickr from Yahoo channels to figure out just why in the blazes somebody would want to delete his inoffensive video and what follows feels like a scene straight out of Abbott and Costello.

==== From Flickr ========

Hello atchang_2001,

As per our Community Guidelines, “restricted” video content is not allowed on Flickr . We’ve removed your video.

If you continue to upload videos that contain “restricted” content, we may take further action on your account.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hi, could you tell me which video you removed (title or filename and the set that it was from) and what was the “restricted” content? On Aug 12, all I uploaded were a lot of videos of my friends playing basketball (pretty poorly I admit, but I don’t see how that is restricted).

Thank you!

==== From Flickr ========

Thank you for contacting Flickr Member Support.

The best places to refer for clarification on what is and is not allowed are the Community Guidelines and Terms of Use. We cannot reinterpret these documents but staying within the letter and spirit of these terms and guidelines is the best way to maintain a happy and healthy Flickr account.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hi, can you tell me which video was removed (filename and what set it was in).

==== From Flickr ========

The video that was removed was the one that has violated
the Terms of Service.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hello, yes I understand it violated your ToS… but I uploaded over fifty videos during the time frame in questions and it is difficult to be to figure which one was removed on my side.

Can you please tell me the name of the video that was removed. If possible what set the video was in would also be helpful.

==== From Flickr ========

Thank you for contacting Flickr Member Support.

I am very sorry but at this time, we can’t release this
sort of data.

Thank you for your interest in Flickr.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hello, I wish this case to be escalated to a more senior representative in an effort to have this matter resolved. To summarize the situation:

1. On the morning of August 12, 2009. I uploaded several dozen videos of my friends and I playing basketball (videos have no sound).
2. A few hours later, I receive an email saying that one of the videos has been removed because it contains restricted content.
3. I wish to know what video was removed (the current representative appears not to be able to tell me what video was removed or why it was labelled as restricted).

Thank you

==== From Flickr ========

Hello atchang_2001,

The file that was removed was the one under file name:
CIMG0271

Thank you again for contacting us. If you have any other
questions, please feel free to reply to this email.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

This video is of four of my friends playing basketball at an outdoor basketball court, it has no sound. Can you or a more senior representative assist me in explaining why this violated the Flickr Community Guidelines so that I can avoid this from happening again?

Thank you,

==== From Flickr ========

Hello,

To demonstrate that you understand what content in your
photostream is not appropriate for the “safe” areas of the
Flickr site, we ask that you moderate all the public,
private, and friends/family content in your photostream
within the Flickr Community Guidelines.

So, tired of the above game of incompetence, atchang_2001 decided to escalate things and posted his problem and exchange to the Flickr Help forum (where I’m still permanently banned). Finally atchang_2001 got a thinking person’s response to his inquiry. Zack Shepherd (who is probably the best in the customer care department based on my observations, and seems to care more than most of them) fielded the issue saying that the video deletion was probably an error.

From Zack:

“If the video that was removed was the same as the one you linked to than it was taken down in error. Unfortunately you also didn’t get the right response when you initially wrote in and we usually do release the photo/video name. I can assure you there are no bots but as humans we do make mistakes sometimes. I’m sorry that this happened twice on the same case making it even more frustrating.

You are welcome to upload this video again. We are going to circle up with the team to make sure everyone is on the same page.

We’ll also follow up with you directly with more info. “

Flickr by Yahoo! has recently had a horrible rash of censorship problems. From nuking user’s accounts who write critical comments on President Obama’s photostream, to deleting a Professional photographer’s images of clothed male models, to deleting controversial anti-Obama imagery, to kicking me out of the help forum and placing secret flags on some of my inoffensive images to hide them on flickr by Yahoo, to locking down forums where folks post critical comments about their censorship, to censoring photostreams of people because they contain photos of feet — but this one probably takes the cake.

Unfortunately for atchang_2001, the harmless basketball video that he says he uploaded to Flickr that you see above (along with any comments, faves, tags, or other meta data around it) is long gone. See Flickr has no way to restore content that is deleted by their staff even when it’s by mistake. You’d think that this would be a feature that they’d be working on, especially given that former Flickr Chief and co-founder Stewart Butterfield admitted that it was a “mistake” for Flickr not to have this sort of functionality over two years ago. But unfortunately not only do they not have that sort of functionality they are not even working on it — apparently they’ve been too busy working on their new logo for the site to deal with messy little things like protecting user data.

Frankly, the email exchange above is pretty unacceptable. I’m not sure if the problem is Flickr by Yahoo management or simply Flickr by Yahoo’s Censorship Division management, but if Yahoo! is really serious about implementing their marketing hype that the new Yahoo! is “You,” then they should probably consider getting this part of their network cleaned up a little bit. One idea might just be to stop censoring users in the first place. Then you don’t have to worry about mistakes like this happening at all.

Deleting user content should be something that is only done as a measure of last resort, not because some underling in the censorship division didn’t get enough sleep last night or hates anti-Obama imagery or basketball.

An Open Letter to Elisa Steele EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Yahoo Inc.

An Open Letter to Elisa Steele

Dear Elisa,

Thank you today for sharing your vision for the new Yahoo! over at the Yahoo! blog today. Your new tagline “under new management…yours,” is refreshing indeed. Sometimes it takes new management to shake things up. I applaud your spirit in suggesting that “I” Thomas Hawk ought to have a say in how Yahoo’s management is run going forward.

In your letter to all of us you write:

“The core of our message will focus on YOU. It will celebrate all of your individual wants, needs, interests, and passions. That’s because Yahoo! really is all about you — we’re constantly evolving to give you more of what you want and less of what you don’t. We want you to make the Web your own and are designing products to put you in the driver’s seat of your Internet experience. Our new brand positioning reflects that.”

I thought that that I’d take a few minutes out of my busy morning browsing photos on Flickr (I browse hundreds a day) to share with you just exactly how you might “celebrate” my individual wants, needs, interests, and passions. Mostly I use Flickr on Yahoo — and boy do I use it. So most of my remarks will be about that.

I thought I’d do this specifically in the form of a wish list. I hope that you are actually sincere in your stated pledge to put Yahoo under “my” management and would take a second out of your equally busy morning to respond to some of these requests — the same courtesy I’m sure you’d extend to any of your other Yahoo managers. By the way, many of these wants, needs, interests and passions, are not just mine, but are shared by many of your other customers.

1. I’d like you to remove the ban on my account from the Flickr Help forum. Censorship sucks Elisa, c’mon, we both know that. Being booted from the Flickr Help Forum indefinitely for pointing Help Forum users to a relevant new blog about Flickr’s censorship practices ought not to get you banned. Don’t shoot the messenger Elisa. I’m sure you can appreciate the irony involved in censoring someone for talking about censorship. It’s personal and it’s petty. And it’s not very nice. Banning someone from the Flickr help forum really ought to be a an action of last resort.

You should consider reviewing the banned list from this Forum and reinstating my account as well as many of the others who are banned there like my good friend Pierre Honeyman. Saying Flickr is all web 2.0ish and is about transparency isn’t really true when you ban people from the help forum. How can we all sing kumbaya together in the campus quad when the security goons won’t let some of us in? Tear down those walls Elisa, tear down those walls.

Oh, one other thing. Let’s lock less critical threads in the Help Forum as well. When we do that it only makes us look foolish when others outside of our little community point out that we’re censoring threads about censorship by locking them.

2. What the hell is up with NIPSA (it means Not In Public Site Areas, in case you’re not familiar with the dreaded acronym)? Why you gotta go be like that? Flickr has a whole public content moderation system, so why the need to secretly apply hidden flags on individual images at Flickr? If you are going to censor people’s images, be upfront about it and let them know.

Don’t label an image “Safe Photo” as moderated by Flickr staff and then secretly remove it from search and other public site areas behind their back just because the image might include critical comments about Flickr. The fact that your recent “galleries” feature won’t allow users to create “galleries” that contain NIPSA photos (another dumb restriction), by the way, is only highlighting how many people (me, included) are currently being secretly censored.

3. It scares me to know that Flickr has no way to recover my content if it is maliciously destroyed by a hacker, myself accidentally, or most scary of all, some of your overzealous censor-happy underlings in the Flickr Censorship Bureau. You may or may not be aware that recently Flickr users have lost *thousands* yes *thousands* of images permanently due to these sorts of actions.

People are putting years of their lives into their photostreams at Flickr. This is more than just about their photos by the way. It’s about living part of your life inside of Flickr. And to think that all of that can just be destroyed permanently and with no recourse with the touch of a button, well, that just’s insane Elisa. Seriously, Stewart Butterfield (back before he left to go mine tin) mentioned that it was a “mistake” for Flickr not to be able to recover deleted content over *two years ago*. The fact that Flickr still has no way to recover deleted content and, as admitted by your staff, ins’t even working on it, well, that’s wrong.

4. I think it’s about time for a rewrite of the Flickr TOS/Community Guidelines. Have you read these lately Elisa? Did you know that you can be deleted from Flickr for being “That Guy.” That’s right. For being “That Guy.” Who is “That Guy?” Is it me? I hope not. Is it Jerry Yang? I doubt it. Is it Carl Icahn? Wait, don’t answer that.

Why the need to force a horribly subjective contract on your users who are investing thousands of hours on your site. Allowing Flickr to delete accounts because someone is “that guy,” basically is the same as saying, “we can delete your account for whatever the hell we want.” Heck, we can delete your account because you didn’t wear purple during our last big Yahoo-love-fest marketing push that everybody needs to wear purple. A lot of the other terms are stupid too. You say don’t upload content that isn’t yours, but then your very own Flickr staff violate that rule. Let’s be specific with the TOS and Community Guidelines. It will make people feel better when the exact rules are spelled out more exactly.

Ok, that’s it for now. I’m looking forward to the next managers meeting. Plus I’m looking forward to the invigorating breakout sessions at the next company offsite. Have you thought about having the next one in Las Vegas Elisa? There is so much cool neon there worth photographing. Remember that time that you all set up that ice cream stand at CES Vegas way back when. Too cool for school!

Oh wait, no, I lied, one last thing. I’m going to post a link to this post in the comment section of the Yahoo blog, but I’m worried. In the comments section on your blog it reads “Notes: Please note that Yahoo! may, in our sole discretion, reject comments for any reason we deem appropriate. Links of value to readers are welcome, but please use them sparingly – wield spam and you’re banished forever. This is a moderated site and comments will appear if and when they are approved. We will review the queue several times daily, so please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately.” What’s up with that policy? Don’t fear comments Elisa. Let everyone say whatever they want. It makes life more interesting.

Give my best to Carol and the rest of the gang Elisa and know that even when I’m not at HQ it’s still always Sunnyvale in my heart.

Yours Truly,

Thomas Hawk