Disclaimer: I am the Chief Evangelist for the photo sharing start up Zooomr.
Update: Flickr Co-Founder and Yahoo Flickr Chief Stewart Butterfield responds in the comments below.
So today when checking out the latest edits to Zooomr’s Wikipedia entry I noticed that a recent change had been made saying that many of Zooomr’s features, page designs and particular implementations” were “exact copies” of Flickr. When checking the IP address for the change in question 18.104.22.168 it came back through a reverse DNS directory look up as coming from Yahoo Corporate. The same IP address also edited lots of other Yahoo type Wikipedia entries including positive Flickr entries and even Flickr’s Caterina Fake’s personal biography.
While it’s impossible to know for sure who at Yahoo could be editing Zooomr’s Wikipedia entry, it doesn’t sit right with me that a competitor would be doing this at all.
Now while Zooomr has been doing lots of innovative work in the photo sharing space and even today has many features that Flickr does not (trackbacks, geotagging, smartsets, most famous, most photos, etc.), I think someone certainly could make a case that we also have many features that are similar to flickr. But I think to say that many of our features, page designs and implementations are “exact copies,” is a bit much. I also am not sure that this is the appropriate type of entry one company should be making in Wikipedia about their competitor.
Ever since Zooomr launched we seem to have been vilified by many out there as merely another “flickr clone.” It’s as though how dare someone else try to innovate in a space dominated by beloved flickr. And while we do have today (and continue to plan for in the future) many features that Flickr does not, we still seem to be faced with this barrage of attacks by people who would seem to just want Zooomr to go away.
Once upon a time Yahoo! was king of search. Then guess what happened. A little company called Google came and ate their lunch. I’m sure many might have called Google a Yahoo clone as well. After all they were in the same space as Yahoo doing essentially the same thing. And so what’s wrong with this? What’s wrong with one company trying to innovate in another company’s space?
The ironic thing is that I love flickr. I’ve used it passionately as one of it’s most active users for the past year or so. I plan to use it well into the future. I just happen to think that there is room in the world for more than one photo sharing site and that Zooomr offers me things that I was asking for passionately at Flickr (like trackbacks) that Flickr does not. I believe that there is room for both services to exist side by side. The world of photo sharing is an awfully big place.
But it certainly doesn’t sit right with me that a corporate Yahoo IP address would come back as editing our Zooomr Wikipedia entry. Maybe I’ve gotten this all wrong and there is some other explanation to this. This is certainly possible and I’d love to hear it if there is. And if it actually is someone from Yahoo editing our Wikipedia entry it would be nice for you to come out and actually identify yourself rather than try and change our entry anonymously.