The Flickr Brouhaha

I guess I’m one of the Flickr “Old Skool”: Got my account back toward the end of 2004 (I think) and have gotten away with putting off merging my Yahoo! ID with my Flickr account. Yesterday I got the “dreaded FlickrMail” saying that, as of March 15, I’ll have to merge my Flickr and Yahoo! IDs and use the Yahoo! ID to sign in or I won’t be able to access my account on Flickr. This, along with the announcements on limits on the number of contacts (3,000) and the number of tags (75) has created a massive mosh pit in Flickr Central and the Flickr Help forums.

I’m not going to deal with the issue of contacts and tags here, as I cannot imagine ever being able to keep up with 3,000 contacts or slapping dozens of tags on each photo and still maintain my sanity. As to the “forced” merger, however, the reactions seem to range from people who resist ANY change, to people who think anyone who complains about the merger is a whiner and should shut the hell up and leave Flickr, to people who have held their nose and merged their accounts and so far, so good to, well, people like me who are really in two minds about the whole thing.

I certainly have my philosophical issues with Yahoo! and how they use my personal information. But I’ve had my Yahoo! account for YEARS, so that’s kind of trying to slam the barn door shut after the horse is running loose. I do have two concerns, however, that I hope are fully resolved by the time March 15 rolls around and I HAVE to merge:

1) Will Yahoo! respect my cc license? Trying to parse the leagalese in Yahoo!’s TOS left me believing that, yes, if my image is licensed All Rights Reserved, they won’t use my photo(s) for any commercial purpose without my expressed consent. However, today some users discovered that was using ALL images tagged wii, even those marked All Rights Reserved. Granted, Yahoo! admitted making an error and reconfigured so only properly-licensed images were displayed, but I wonder if that would have happened had there not been such an angry reaction from the Flickr community (i.e., people tagging ALL of their photos “wii”, people uploading images tagged “wii” that called Yahoo! thieves, etc.)

OK, so my images aren’t all THAT great and the possibility of Yahoo! plucking any of them to sell their product is probably one of the least of my worries, but it is a concern that needs to be resolved. I’m just not wholly convinced that the snagging of ALL images with a given tag was a simple accident or oversight.

2) Yahoo! is notorious for deactivating a user’s account for Gods knows what reason. Maybe inactivity, maybe the user forgot the password (or had the CAPS LOCK on and didn’t notice) or some violation of Yahoo!’s TOS, whatever. The problem is, when a Yahoo! account gets deactivated, my understanding is that the merged Flickr account also gets deleted. If I have PAID for a year’s worth of Flickr service (which I *just* did before the merger kerfuffle), deleting my–hang on a sec, let me go look–1,300+ photos is a big-time NO-NO, especially given Flickr’s No Refunds policy. Yeah, I have all of my images on any combination of hard drives and CDs, but if for some reason I have problems signing into my Yahoo!/Flickr account and Yahoo! decides to just deactivate me, I’m gonna be hella pissed if my account and all those photos gets deleted.

As of about 9:45 tonight, I haven’t seen a definitively reassuring answer that if the Yahoo! sign in goes floopy that my Flickr account won’t be zapped before the sign in issue gets resolved (which, given Yahoo!’s notoriously pokey and un-helpful customer support, could take quite a while).

And that’s really pretty much it for my concerns about merging. I just want to know that my photos are being protected as much as possible (given they’re on the internets and are generally fair game for anyone who can right-click on an image…etc., etc.)

editing to add something very important: I do want to commend Flickr staff. They’ve taken a hell of a lot of abuse in the forums and have done their best to answer users’ concerns as timely and accurately as they can. I know times like this it’s hard to keep a sense of humour (especially when you’re fighting to keep the sense of perspective amid all the hyperbole being flung about). I hope that the worst of it is over soon.

And, hey, isn’t it about time for the Flickr Turns THREE party???

(cross-posted at Thinking Out Loud)

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