The problem with Flickr’s plea for help

Dec 24, 2019

Daniel Lee

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The problem with Flickr’s plea for help

Dec 24, 2019

Daniel Lee

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Flickr users received an email a few days ago asking for help to spread the world of Flickr. Don MacAskill who is the CEO of both SmugMug and Flickr, explained the platform is still losing money and needs our help to keep it alive.

Being that I’ve used Flickr since I started photography in 2011, this worried me. I never really got into Instagram and still don’t use it much as it’s part of Facebook (enough said). I enjoyed 500px years ago but it lost most of its popularity quite some time ago and still continues to lose users.

Although the thought of Flickr leaving us one day soon does worry me, I don’t think it is surprising either. Let me explain why.

The Problems

I wouldn’t put it down to one particular reason that Flickr is struggling but more a combination of reasons. As a long time user, here is what I see as their main problems.

An Unclear Purpose

To put it simple, Flickr has an identify problem. They want to label themselves as a community for photographers but also market themselves as somewhere to store all your photos.

Let’s be honest here, they aren’t doing the best at either. There are more cheaper and better cloud storage alternatives like Ondrive or Backblaze. The community side of Flickr hasn’t been as active for a long time now too with many users moving to other platforms like Instagram or 500px.

Flickr really needs to choose what it wants to be, a portfolio styled photography community like 500px in its earlier days or an online storage site for your photos and videos. With enough work and the right implementation, it could be both. This would of course require more money and since Flickr is apparently lacking in this area, this wouldn’t be possible at this point in time.

More Drastic Changes

In the email Don mentioned this about their changes since taking over Flickr:

“We’ve been hard at work improving Flickr. We hired an excellent, large staff of Support Heroes who now deliver support with an average customer satisfaction rating of above 90%. We got rid of Yahoo’s login. We moved the platform and every photo to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the industry leader in cloud computing, and modernized its technology along the way. As a result, pages are already 20% faster and photos load 30% more quickly. Platform outages, including Pandas, are way down. Flickr continues to get faster and more stable, and important new features are being built once again.”

The removal of the Yahoo login screen was something big that everyone was happy to see go, but we haven’t seen anything that big since. All the changes that were made have been more behind the scenes and performance related which is always needed, but not drastic enough.

Flickr’s Explore page has long been broken which SmugMug vowed to fix. This included improving the quality and giving an advantage to Pro subscribers. Sadly this page still remains broken with no update on when they will change it. The removal of Yahoo also meant no more 2 factor authentication. This is an important feature in terms of security and should have been implemented back already.

If Flickr really is in trouble, it needs to reinvent itself fast before it’s too late.

What Flickr Need to Do

If we want Flickr to stay, it’s not just up to more users to start paying for Pro. We also need Flickr to give us more justification for this pricing.

I feel that we also need to know SmugMug are in this for the long run. Below is part of an email I received just days before Don’s plea for help.

It does make sense for them to try convert users to both platforms, but also worries me. If Flickr really is at risk of disappearing, this may be a way of converting users over before closing the website. If Flickr was developed to a point where it could be a portfolio site that you can customize, it would end up being competition to SmugMug.

Now if SmugMug own Flickr, then they should be happy to compete with themselves as they win regardless. To sum this up, Flickr really needs to be work as an independent platform. Whether or not this will happen or if Flickr will survive is all a guessing game for now.

About the Author

Daniel Lee is a photography enthusiast based in Sydney, Australia. He enjoys many different genres but generally focuses on street, urban, and still life photography. For more of his work, head over to his website, and follow him on Instagram500px, and Flickr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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4 responses to “The problem with Flickr’s plea for help”

  1. Ben Hosking Avatar
    Ben Hosking

    Didn’t even read the email. I’m a pro member already. I really hope they don’t shut down. I use it as a huge storage point for the low res galleries I offer. Tons of work to change over to another service if it disappears

  2. Lumba Go Avatar
    Lumba Go

    I received the mail…being a member since 2010 it’s a time to be pro. But , even 25% of discount I found 10 bucks as a tax on the bill, OK . Lets go . Paying by PayPal I got a message from the system… unable to create a bill to my address. ??? …because I live outside of USA or ????

  3. Tj Ó Seamállaigh Avatar
    Tj Ó Seamállaigh

    The discussions groups there were some nice way to discuss photography at some point – but once they changed the old design (i think it was the hype to get along with 500px) many people disliked that change and checking the groups was not as easy as before.
    Then, the pricing ….. I don’t know .. i don’t think it’s worth it. I had a paid membership before and it was for half that price when Flickr was on the top of its game.

    I think they need to create something new … not just uploading photos and commenting on them, or storing photos. Contests of some sort? I don’t know

  4. Mario Dennis Avatar
    Mario Dennis

    I don’t know if it would make a difference on the bottom line, but as long as Flickr offers free accounts they’re spending money on resources with no clear ROI.