An Open Letter to Carol Bartz, CEO Yahoo Inc.

Dear Ms. Bartz:

It’s been a few months since I last posted a letter to you. I wanted to take this moment though to check back in with you on Flickr. In my last letter I suggested that Yahoo was not giving Flickr the attention that it deserved. Since that last letter there were a couple of nicely orchestrated shout outs to Flickr. Blake Irving did his Hell yes we love Flickr tweet. He made a stop by the FlickrHQ offices complete with a silly “milking margarita’s” photo op, etc.

Blake’s a pretty senior guy at Yahoo and so at least it *feels* like Flickr’s not being totally and completely ignored anymore, at least a little bit.

Also since my last letter to you, Flickr “accidently” deleted a guy’s account. Flickr was able to restore his account in the end (after a lot of bad press at places like CNN) but even more importantly announced that they are actually working on a tool to undelete bad account deletions in the future (finally! yeah!).

These are both really positive things, even if they came about the hard way.

However, what is really blowing my mind this morning is seeing how badly Flickr handled the censorship of these Egyptian secret police photos over the weekend. Granted, not everyone is probably working on Flickr on the weekend, but really Carol, they screwed the pooch this time.

You have a reputation as a savvy well regarded businessperson Ms. Bartz. Business is your thing. You’re all business. So as a businessperson let me ask you this. What is the value of the photo above that went viral for your competitor Facebook?

I mean this photo was seen all over the internet. You couldn’t miss it if you were online. It was EVERYWHERE. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in PR value? Maybe millions? You guys reportedly spent $100 million last year on your “the internet is under new management yours” campaign right? You understand the value of PR I think. I think we can both agree with the statement that the viral photograph above (and others like it) were worth a hella lot of money in PR value for Facebook.

Aligning a social media business like flickr with popular pro-democracy bloggers to me is an absolute no brainer from a business perspective. It is just the smart thing to do if you are trying to attract one of the most active viral groups of people on the web today.

So while your competitor Google actually has one of their employees on the ground in the fight for democracy in Egypt (another PR win), what is Flickr doing? They are CENSORING photos by a popular Egyptian blogger, Hossam Hamalawy, aka Arabawy — a young rising leader in the Egyptian revolution.

This man is a hero Carol. He is on the ground in one of the hottest spots for news on the planet — he has a huge following on Twitter, and is very well regarded. And what are the photos that flickr is censoring of his? Photos of Egyptian Secret police officers suspected of TORTURE.

So Flickr has an opportunity to try and embrace social media and what is going on with revolution in the Middle East or they can support a dying regime’s alleged torturers.

And what side does Flickr choose?

Let’s forget about what is right or wrong here for a second. Yahoo took it pretty hard on the chin a few years back when you turned over a Chinese dissident’s email to the Chinese Govt resulting in his imprisonment. Jerry Yang was called before Congress and browbeaten (another bad PR moment for Yahoo). Surely Yahoo can see that siding with the bad guys here is just simply a bad business decision from a PR perspective. Right?

It gets worse Carol. In order to justify censoring these photos, Flickr did it by citing a frequently ignored provision in their community guidelines. The provision that says the work in your flickrstream has to be “your own work.” They bounced his secret police photos on a stupid technicality of a rule that is largely ignored by everyone on Flickr anyways.

Everybody on Flickr knows that Flickr is *chock full* of photos that are not a user’s “own work.” Even your own Flickr staffers photostreams are full of images that are not technically “their own work.”

For example — Matthew Rothenberg, who runs flickr for you, has this photo of a masturbating dinosaur in his photostream that was taken by your former Flickr Community Manager Heather Champ (according to the tags on his photo). This is not “his own work,” the exact same provision that flickr used to censor Arabawy.

Forget for a second that from a customer service perspective an “award” like this might be insulting (apparently it’s given for “excellence in the field of community abuse and advocacy”) the photo clearly is not Rothenberg’s “own work.” Trust me Ms. Bartz, hypocrisy is never a good thing when justifying something like this.

There are other images in Rothenberg’s photostream that are not “his own work,” too and he’s not alone. Other flickr staffers have posted photos in their photostreams that are not “their own work.” I’m not picking on Rothenberg here, he just happens to be the guy who runs the place so he’s the best example.

From a PR and business perspective, your competitors are gaining incredible PR value from the revolution in the Middle East. Google, Facebook, Twitter, all of them. Flickr should be included in that list. They are a natural fit. Instead Flickr makes an incredibly stupid public statement retweeted all over the world by influential folks like NPR’s Andy Carvin or Clay Shirky.

This just makes no possible rational sense. Any thinking rational businessperson should see the value of being positively associated with young pro-democracy forces in Egypt in social media today.

I hope you read this letter. I also hope you go back to Flickr and have them undo this mistake and repost Arabawy’s photos. It’s sort of too late now as Anonymous has already helped him (and the Egyptian people) out and reposted all of the photos in an uncensorable location here (the right thing and a no-brainer positive PR act for Anonymous) — but at least Flickr would be making a statement that they made a mistake here. It is in both Yahoo and Flickr’s interest to look like an active engaged social media company, not some tired old asleep at the switch has been.

I also hope that you would also take a hard look at the institutional culture at Flickr. A culture that thinks publicly posting a photo of a masturbating dinosaur award for community abuse is funny, yet blows a major PR opportunity by abusing totally the wrong customer is not the right culture for an engaged social media company going forward.

Yahoo and Flickr can and should do better than this.

Yahoo “Sunsetting” New “LiveStand” Service

(Editor’s note: this article is parody, as in total parody, as in I made all this up and as in parody is protected speech under the First Amendment).

In a surprise leak from today’s Yahoo/Goldman Sachs conference call, an updated slide showing additional sites Yahoo plans to shutter in the weeks ahead included today’s newly announced “LiveStand” service.

When pressed by analysts as to why “LiveStand” was listed under the “sunsetting” column on the Yahoo slide when it was simultaneously being announced as a new Yahoo product just today, Yahoo Chief Product Officer Blake Irving put it bluntly:

“Look,” said Irving, wearing a velvet purple blazer,”we can spend a couple of mil trying to build some stupid magazine subscription thing that nobody will ever use over the next year, or we can just nip it in the bud now and save our shareholders a boatload of money,” Just imagine if we’d killed Yahoo Buzz 8 months earlier, he added. This makes more sense than even switching your auto insurance to GEICO.

My job here is all about maximizing shareholder value and by God, the last thing I’m going to do is waste a bunch a good Yahoo money on some stupid idea just because Jerry Yang and Terry Semmel say I should. I figure that if we can save three mil by sunsetting this puppy early that’s another 2 mil each for Carol and I.

Irving said that he planned to amortize the savings now, in time for executive bonuses, but wouldn’t actually be laying unit employees off until shortly before Christmas. “Trust me,” he added with a sinister laugh as he sipped his Red Bull, “it will be better that way.”

When asked where Yahoo would actually get new revenue Irving replied, “Is Yahoo! committed to Flickr? Hell yes we are! We love this product and team; on strategy and profitable.” Irving then went on to tell a story about his recent visit to Flickr HQ where he showed Flickr Staff how to milk a margarita. I love those guys he added. Can’t stand all those pesky photographers who use the site, but those guys in the main office are just swell. Irving went on to talk about the newly enhanced version of Flickr for the new Windows phone. “Trust me,” added Irving, “six or eight months from now when everyone’s ditched their iPhones and Android phones for these killer new Microsoft phones, we’ll look like geniuses. Irving then pulled out a new prototype Windows based phone called “The Chumby” from his blazer and gave a personal demonstration on how cool Flickr looked on a Microsoft phone. This phone is PHAAAAATTTTTTTT crowed Irving.

Towards the end of his presentation Irving added an important disclaimer, “all of this ‘sunsetting’ stuff is just between us girls. If I find out anyone here leaks these slides I’ll have their nuts on a platter for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Got it! And nobody better’d breathe a word of this to Carol either he added, she’s going to be demoing the new service next week at Mobile World Congress and we’ve already booked John Stewart and Serena Williams to come out and hype this thing for us. Carol will look like an idiot if she knows I’d already planned this. And we can’t have Carol looking like an idiot.”

Yahoo Hires Steve Douty to Oversee Flickr (Among Other Things)

Louis Gray is reporting that Yahoo has hired former Hot Mail Veteran Steve Douty to, among other things, oversee Flickr. Douty reports into “Bill Shaughnessy, the company’s senior VP of global product management, who in turn reports to Blake Irving, Yahoo!’s chief product officer, Douty is responsible for product strategy and roadmap to rollout for the products’ current offerings and their future plans, including how they would be monetized,” reports Louis.

Wow, that’s a pretty important job and means that Douty will likely have a great deal of influence over what our “Flickr World” looks like in the months ahead.

Welcome aboard Steve and I hope you are able to accomplish great things with our beloved Flickr.

Q. Is Yahoo Committed to Flickr? Yahoo Product Chief Blake Irving Says “Hell Yes”

Q.  Is Yahoo Comitted to Flickr

A few hours ago, Yahoo EVP and product Chief Blake Irving sent out a tweet on his Twitter account likely in response to recent questions about Yahoo’s commitment to Flickr. The tweet seems to be a ringing endorsement, at least from Irving, that Yahoo Management *does* in fact value what they have in Flickr.

“Q. Is Yahoo! committed to Flickr? A. Hell yes we are! We love this product and team; on strategy and profitable.” wrote Irving.

It’s nice to finally see someone from the senior Yahoo ranks actually come out and utter the word Flickr. For a while there I was starting to wonder if they even knew they owned it. Flickr has been conspicuously absent from Yahoo analyst earnings calls and other PR opportunities by Yahoo Management and was starting to feel like some sort of neglected orphan. Layoffs at Flickr last month were at about 8% (about twice the overall 4% Yahoo rate that most press cited). Irving’s statement today at least shows that Yahoo gets that it’s important to show Flickr a little love from time to time.

Now, next, how the hell do we get Irving and his boss Carol Bartz to actually sign up for Flickr and open accounts of their own? You know you’re just chomping at the bit to see the latest snapshots from these two Yahoos.

Thanks Danny for tweeting the Search Engine Land Article!

Update: More from ReadWriteWeb here.

Update #2: Apparently Blake Irving actually does have a flickr account. It doesn’t look like he’s updated it though since August of last year. You’d think his assistant could be more on top of that for him. From the two photos of him that are tagged on Flickr, it looks like he actually visited Flickr HQ July of last year once.

Great Tastes That Go Great Together

the Delicious team will soon be working in close proximity to their fraternal twin, Flickr. And just like we’ve done with Flickr, we plan to give Delicious the resources, support, and room it needs to continue growing the service and community.

– Yahoo blog post announcing their acquisition of social bookmarking site delicious. December 2005.

It was leaked today that Yahoo would be shutting down, er I mean “sunsetting” the popular bookmarking site delicious. Yahoo Products Chief Blake Irving threatened to fire whoever leaked the news on Twitter (way to go Blake, threatening to fire someone on Twitter = classy move). I thought I’d take a moment to go back and review the original announcement that Yahoo made when they acquired Delicious in the first place:

Great Tastes That Go Great Together

I’ve been a big fan of Delicious, the social bookmarking service Joshua Schachter created, for quite a while now. So much so that when Dave Taylor recently asked for “experts” to help explain What’s so cool about Delicious?, I was glad to masquerade as an expert.

If you’ve heard about Delicious but never tried it or weren’t quite sure what to make of it, read that article. I think it helps to demystify the cult-like following that many of us are part of.

The last question Dave asked during that interview was:

And so, is Yahoo interested in buying delicious and integrating it into the Yahoo offerings? 🙂

I’d like to change the non-committal answer I gave to this: “Yes! And as of today, Delicious is part of the Yahoo! family.”

As Joshua writes, the Delicious team will soon be working in close proximity to their fraternal twin, Flickr. And just like we’ve done with Flickr, we plan to give Delicious the resources, support, and room it needs to continue growing the service and community. Finally, don’t be surprised if you see My Web and Delicious borrow a few ideas from each other in the future.

Welcome aboard!

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Search

An Open Letter to Carol Bartz, CEO Yahoo Inc.

Google, Er, Yahoo Car Needs a Bath

Dear Ms. Bartz,

I just finished reading your demoralizing letter regarding recent layoffs at Yahoo over at All Things Digital. Although I’m only a Yahoo user, not an employee, I am a heavy user of your Flickr product — a product that I’ve enjoyed and loved for many years now. As such, I watch how Yahoo is run with keen interest, mostly because I’m worried about how your corporate leadership will affect that site which I love so much.

For your first year of your reign at Yahoo you gave yourself a grade of B-, this past year you seemed a little more defensive and gave yourself a grade of simply “pass.” You’ve had the you know what kicked out of you, of course, by most of the tech and financial press over the past few years and have come back swinging yourself in odd ways. Telling Mike Arrington to “f*** off” for instance.

The market, we know, is frequently one of the most efficient graders of all. There is no grade inflation there.

On the day that you were announced as the new incoming CEO of Yahoo, January 14, 2009, Yahoo’s stock price closed at $12.41 per share. Now on the one hand that price vs. today’s price of $16.46 looks pretty good. In fact that’s over a 32% return since you’ve been at the helm. But the thing is that you took charge coming off the worst year in the stock market in recent history so we can’t really credit all of that to you.

In fact while Yahoo has been up +32% since you took over. Your competitors have been up quite a bit more. Google is up almost +100% in the same time period. Apple is up +275%, even the old slowpoke Microsoft is up +51%. The Nasdaq Composite is up +79% and the S&P 500 is up +53%. In short, Yahoo’s stock performance under your tenure thus far has been a laggard — but you already know this.

I suppose I wouldn’t really care about the stock price of Yahoo except for the fact that I think you’re just letting one of the best products at Yahoo, Flickr, languish. In your letter to your employees you say, it’s “no secret that we’re cutting investment in underperforming and non-core products so we can focus on our strengths (like email, the homepage, search, mobile, advertising, content and more)”

Email? The homepage? search ? mobile? advertising? Yawn.

You know what I don’t see in there? Flickr. Photos. I’m assuming that you consider Flickr one of those “underperforming and non-core products.”

Do you even realize what you have with Flickr? It’s the largest well organized library of images in the world. Not only that, it has a very strong social networking component. In fact, Flickr may represent (if managed correctly) your single biggest opportunity to launch a much larger and more lucrative social network (and stock photography agency as well). Have you spent any time in any Flickr groups? They are addicting. People live in them. They play games in them. All kinds of activity goes on in them every day. And if you took the time to really explore the social side of Flickr, you’d learn this, and figure out a way to grow it.

But you know what? You haven’t taken the time to really explore the social side of Flickr. Hell, you don’t even have an account yourself on Flickr. One of the most highly visible and trafficked Yahoo properties and you don’t even have an account there. Would it be so hard to have your assistant set up an account for you and post some photos of some mountains from a family vacation two years ago?

I listened in on your first analysts conference call. On the call you mentioned that your daughter was using Facebook to share photos. There was an opportunity right there for you to plug your own photo sharing site. Flickr needs you. They need you to be a cheerleader for the site. It would be good for morale to hear you mention the site once in a while. It also seems like a no brainer from a PR perspective. I know if I were CEO at Yahoo I sure as hell would have a Flickr account. In fact I’d set up accounts really on all of the services that I was commander and chief of and I’d actually use them from time to time to build a familiarity with what works and what doesn’t.

Now here’s what really galls me. Despite the overall dismal performance of your stock price. Despite the fact that your competitors are building traction when you are not. Despite the fact that much of your best talent is leaving in droves (I know Stewart Butterfield left before you got there but you really should read his resignation letter). Despite the fact that you won’t come down out of your ivory tower to actually get down in the trenches and work with us (your users) to figure out how we can make your products better. Despite all of this. You, yes you, were the highest paid CEO in the Standard & Poors 500 last year.

That’s right. At least according to this report you made $47.2 *million*. Now in addition to paying you all that dough, you also wasted $100 million on a stupid ad campaign saying that the “internet was under new management, yours.” Carol, if the internet was under new management “mine,” I sure as hell wouldn’t be deleting my own Flickr group with over 3,000 members now would I?

Imagine what an insult it is to your Yahoos when you send them out a memo saying that their unit is an under-performing and non-core product. That they get to watch their co-workers laid off just before Christmas while you reap in amazing piles of dough personally. This is not leadership. Leadership would be you coming out and saying you feel their pain and that you will be working for a $1 salary next year and will continue to work for $1 per year until you can get the company turned around. Do you really need more and more millions of dollars anyways? I guarantee you it’s not going to be a thin Christmas at the Bartz household this year.

And your complaint about the fact that your layoffs were leaked ahead of your actually axing people? Get over that. Your acrimony towards bloggers, your iron clad commitment to containment and secrecy within the Yahoo ranks isn’t working. People want honesty and transparency these days. So be transparent. Be human.

I’m sorry to be so blunt and so harsh on you in this letter. I dispute both your grades of B- and “pass.” I’d give you a fail for your first two years. A failure to grow the stock price. A failure to inspire the troops. A failure to innovate. I wouldn’t care so much except for the fact that you currently own what is one of the most important and significant cultural treasures of our lifetime. Flickr. And Flickr holds so much promise and so much could be done to innovate there and it just doesn’t feel like you give a damn.

Flickr will be here long after you are and its cultural significance to our world will outlast your quarter to quarter financial results. While not being your most profitable unit by any measure, understand what it is that you have. Use its strengths. Be its cheerleader. Figure out how you can harness the social networking potential there. I’d be happy to talk with you about ways that you could improve it if you had an interest.

Best Regards,

Thomas Hawk

Update: This letter to Carol Bartz is also now syndicated over at Business Insider here.

Yahoo Laying Off Flickr Staffers

Layoffs at Flickr

Layoffs at Flickr

Layoffs at Flickr

Layoffs at Flickr

Layoffs at Flickr

Layoffs at Flickr

Layoffs at Flickr

Reports are circulating and tweets are being sent out today that indicate that layoffs are happening at Yahoo’s Flickr.

The layoffs at Flickr were first rumored by TechCrunch who posted about Flickr employees not showing up to a meeting a few weeks ago. After that TechCrunch post Flickr Staffer Eric Gelinas posted to Twitter “Just in case you don’t know “wolf” when you hear it cried, Flickr is fine, I am fine #sensationalist, #techcrunch, #cryingwolf, #flickr, #yahoo, appearing to refute the initial report of layoffs.

But today at least two other Flickr staffers, Cris Stoddard (who did community tech support) and Tara Kirchner (Flickr’s Senior Marketing Manager) tweeted that they would be leaving the company — and other tweets from other Flickr staffers seem to confirm that layoffs are happening there today. Stoddard later deleted her initial tweet but a screen shot of it is above along with various other tweets related to today’s layoffs.

Many news outlets have been reporting the past few days that Yahoo is laying off roughly 5% of their employees mostly focusing on various U.S. based Yahoo product areas.

More from business insider on today’s Yahoo layoffs here.

Another update from TechCrunch here.

The Problem With Yahoo’s New “Yahoo Contributor Network” is Yahoo

Yahoo!  Totally You = Totally Screwed

Yahoo is out today promoting their latest social media offering. They picked a fancy new name for it. “Yahoo Contributor Network.” Apparently you can write articles, take photos, do all sorts of work and publish it to the new network.

From the Yahoo Anectdotal Blog:

Have you ever wanted to have your voice heard by an audience of millions? How about hundreds of millions? Whether you think your tips for dissolving credit card debt would be at home on Yahoo! Finance, or you want to share the secrets to being a happy and successful stay-at-work mom on Yahoo! Shine, the launch of the Yahoo! Contributor Network is your chance.

We designed the Yahoo! Contributor Network especially for you, our users, and we’re inviting you to share your perspective and creativity on some of our most popular content sites – including Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! Finance, omg!, Shine, and even the Yahoo! homepage. The Yahoo! Contributor Network gives you an unprecedented opportunity to reach the largest audiences on the Internet on the topics that matter to you most.

This all sounds sort of interesting, especially to me as a photographer — until I remember that it’s *Yahoo.*

My problem with this offering is that best that I can tell, Yahoo can destroy all of your content on their system that you create at any time for any reason. From the TOS:

“YCN may, without prior notice and at its sole discretion, immediately terminate, limit your access to or suspend your YCN Contributor account and access to the YCN Services, for no reason or for cause which may include your breach of the TOS. YCN shall not be liable to you or any third party for any termination of your account, any associated email address, or access to the YCN Services.

Termination of your YCN Contributor account includes any or all of the following: (a) removal of access to all or part of the offerings within the YCN Services, (b) deletion of your password and all related information, files and content associated with or inside your account (or any part thereof), and (c) barring of further use of all or part of the YCN Services. “

That’s right. Your account can be destroyed immediately and without warning for “NO REASON.” It says so right there in their TOS. Why does this bother me? Because like Flickr, Yahoo here is relying on hours and hours and hours of generous contributions by contributors like you and I. And like Flickr, the rug may be pulled out from under you at any time for any reason.

Since I’ve been involved with Flickr, I’ve watched account after account after account be destroyed without warning. When Flickr destroys your data there is no getting it back. It’s irrevocable. It’s nuked. Gone. Last year I watched as Flickr completely destroyed a pro free speech group on Flickr with over 3,000 members permanently destroying thousands of pages of user contributed content with the flickr of a switch.

So now you’re trying to get me to try out this new service where I submit even more content to Yahoo while at the same time telling me that you can destroy the content I submit at any time for any reason? No Thanks Yahoo. I might buy the argument that this is just lawyerly doublespeak in your TOS except for the fact that I’ve watched so many of my friends have their own data destroyed without warning on Flickr.

How about you show some respect for user data first — and then maybe we can talk about other ways that I might be willing to share my content with you.

All Things Digital’s report on the new network here.

Apparently Yahoo/Flickr Deleted NYCTreeman’s Account


Apparently Yahoo/Flickr Deleted NYCTreeman’s account. I’m not sure exactly what he did. I heard it had something to do with him posting or hotlinking some sort of a cartoon in an inline group discussion thread. Something about a cartoon of a woman and an elephant or something.

I’m continuously amazed that Flickr will so quickly, easily and ruthlessly destroy accounts that involve in many cases thousands of hours of work without so much as batting an eye. The deletion system is irrevocable and frequently no warnings are issued when they take this irreversible action — that’s wrong — unfortunately it is entirely consistent with the disdain that Yahoo Management and Staff seem to hold for their users. No wonder the entire web is buzzing talking about Yahoo being taken over and sold for scraps.

Users should be respected. They should be cherished and valued as customers. Having a monopoly in the photo sharing space ought not give Yahoo license to abuse their users.

Any company that is involved with social networking ought to treat their users and their user’s data with fairness and respect. Permanently destroying user data without warning over minor infractions is not fairness and respect. I suspect NYCTreeman probably did post a distasteful cartoon in an adult (18+) members only forum. But instead of just nuking all of his photos and wiping him off the face of flickr, maybe a better thing to have done might have been to simply ask him to remove whatever cartoon that Flickr found so offensive.

Here is a link to the Flickr Help Forum thread (where I’ve still been banned for over a year now for daring to criticize flickr in public) regarding this unfair practice and NYCTreeman’s account deletion.

I suspect that by the time you get to it it very well may already be locked — Flickr/Yahoo usually thinks it’s a good idea to lock down conversations that end up being critical of them.

Yahoo, How Does Censorship Make Yahoo and the Web More Open and Social

Yahoo, How Does Censorship Make Yahoo and Web More Open and Social?

If you want to see if Yahoo is censoring any of your photos go to the Flickr organizer here. Once you are there, click on “more options” at the bottom of the page. Where it says no privacy/safe search filter, change that to show restricted or moderate content. This will show you what photos of yours that Flickr is currently censoring.

Yahoo today announced that as part of their 2008 “Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS) initiative” they are integrating with Facebook. Every time I hear about this so called Y!OS “open” strategy I’m puzzled.

So Yahoo will integrate with Facebook. But will they do it with the full version of Yahoo content? Or will they do it with the censored version of Yahoo content? At present Yahoo censors Flickr photos on the web institutionally. From the Flickr FAQ:

Note: If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Hong Kong, India or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service (this means you won’t be able to turn SafeSearch off). If your Yahoo! ID is based in Germany you are not able to view restricted content due to your local Terms of Service.

So this means that photos of mine (like this 1874 painting from the Art Institute of Chicago) are effectively filtered out of view as indicated by Yahoo above.

Further, these photos are also completely stripped out of all RSS feeds even for all *USA* based accounts. So if I want to feed my Flickrstream into FriendFeed or Google Buzz these photos will be censored from that feed.

My Pal Merkley does some amazing work with fine art nudes. These are not pornography, these are elegantly structured intensely detailed productions. Right now there is only one way to see these photos of Merkley’s. You have to go to Flickr itself, change your default settings from “safe search” to allow moderate and restricted content and then I can see them on Flickr. But what if I don’t want to see them on Flickr? What if, you know, with a more “open and social Yahoo/web” I want to see these photos in my RSS reader or on Google Buzz or on FriendFeed or (apparently soon) on Facebook? Will I be able to see them? No, I will not. Because Flickr feels that RSS feeds must be sanitized of most of Merkley’s art, even for adults in the U.S. Even though I’ve designated on Flickr that I want to view this content. Even though I’ve certified that I’m over 18. Still, the only place that Yahoo will let me see these photos is in the official Flickr silo itself. (And not even then if I unfortunately happen to be from India).

Unfortunately Yahoo seems to be unwilling to have an open and transparent conversation about this problem. I’ve been permanently banned from the Flickr Help Forum for asking pesky questions like this. I posted a very respectful question about this subject to the Yahoo Corporate Blog (see screen shot above) and it’s presently be censored (er. moderated). The Yahoo Corporate blog has no problem posting comments that kiss up to them. But dare criticize them and your comment is “moderated.” How is this more open and transparent?

If Yahoo truly wants to make Yahoo and the web a more open and social place, then they should stop censoring places like India and Germany and Korea. They should also stop filtering RSS feeds in the U.S. Believe it or not, some people actually don’t find paintings from 1874 at the Art Institute of Chicago offensive, even if the nanny’s at the Flickr Censorship Bureau do. By the way, I tried to appeal Flickr’s censorship decision on the painting from the Art Institute of Chicago and they refused to uncensor it.

Apparently full frontal male nudity on Michelangelo’s statue of David is ok, but a tasteful painting by Lefebvre showing the backside of a woman is not ok. How’s that for a double standard.