Flickr "fucked up" (or did they?) -Unpopular New Flickr Website Design

 Flickr has taken a lot of heat this past week, and I will be less polite than Michael, my co-blogger.

He asks if "Flickr Messed Up?" Michael attributes this to flickr trying to compete with Pinterest, here. Michael may well be correct. But, I have another view or two, having followed this for the past week. That said, we may both be correct in some measure

First, some background.

Users who woke up to discover the "new and improved" site wondered if it had been beta tested. Apparently it had, in a manner of speaking, starting two weeks previously. Users had been chosen at random to participate in a "bucket test", and as far as I can tell, agreed. Wow, they apparently did not know what they were in for, and were seriously unhappy.

Virtually every complaint I've read from those who woke up to the "new and improved" site was mentioned by those involved in the "bucket test". You can read all comments here and here. Comments to the positive were as rare as hen's teeth.

A sample of the negatives:

"I can't tell you how much I hate this! This bears no resemblance to flickr at all. I really hate when big money gets hold of a good idea."

"OMG! What have you done to my home page! I hate it! It looks like a mobile site. This is a bad move and will seriously make me consider whether to continue to support Flickr."

"1. I like change 2. This is horrible!!! Really bad. I want a home page that has the info I need readily available. This is Tumblr with the words on the photo's."

"I do hope/expect Flickr to do something to restore our confidence in the brand after this debacle!"

"If you really want to improve the site, stop making arbitrary and regressive changes to the layout."

"The established community and social interaction between users is your greatest asset, don't lose sight of that."

Again, the above refers to a "bucket test" and comments were made as long as two weeks before the official launch.  Two weeks?  I mean only two weeks.  Why did Flickr even bother to ask?

Another comment from links above: "Thanks for that, but I hear: "the UX team has worked long and hard on this, it's already approved and we'll make some minor tweaks to look like we accommodated the users".  That is perhaps overly cynical, but given the nature of the changes after the "awesome launch", it looks like there was some truth there.  Fixing the manifold problems that became apparent after May 20 public launch must have been time-consuming, certainly.  So, in that sense, not minor.  But, like it or not, the new format is here to stay.

I could write pages and pages on this issue, but won't for now. If you want to read pages and pages of comments, go read the help forum. At last count, there were 278 pages of comments.

However, here is what I think really pissed off regular users:  The "new and improved" flickr was dropped on them without notice.  That was that.   And, it was a mess.

Oh, and the following comment by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, was not well received either, particularly by professional photographers, and by those in sympathy:

Mayer:  “Today, with cameras as pervasive as they are there’s no such thing really as professional photographers”.

Yes, she tried to walk that back.  But it was a totally memorable comment, not easily undone.  This link includes the walk back, but also some very heartfelt comments by the Pros.

In response to Michael's two commentaries linked above, yes, they "messed up", and no, I don't think that Pinterest was a driving force in the change.

The Flickr change coincided with the announcement that Yahoo had acquired Tumblr.  Many have noted the similarities between the new Flickr and the layout of Tumblr.  My read of the tea leaves (not so difficult) is that the motive is to attract a younger hipper crowd.  Who like to document every moment of their lives with smartphone/ cell phone photos.  "Oh look, here is my girlfriend throwing up on my cat".  Tumblr to compete with Facebook.  Or, Faceborg,  as a friend calls it. And, then, I suspect, Flickr will be folded into Tumblr.  And, that will be that.

Update: also see  The new Flickr: Goodbye customers, hello ads

Update 2: here's a further link from a link cited above, including some of the author's words. 
Spitting on the Grave  Jim Colton says:

Excuse me?

 I had to remind myself that this was coming from the CEO of Yahoo, who now manages one of the world’s largest on-line image databases.  Besides the obvious, that this is perhaps one of the stupidest comments I have ever heard, it is also an insult to all the professional photographers throughout history who have sacrificed everything to their craft…including their lives.

Does she really think that anyone with an iPhone or a point and shoot can cover the wars in Afghanistan or the strife in Libya or Syria where we recently lost incredibly talented professionals like Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington?  She probably doesn’t even know the names of people like Robert Capa, Larry Burrows, Henri Huet, John Hoagland, Olivier Rebbot, and countless others, who gave their lives covering the injustices of war in the name of their profession.


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