Flickr signup: From human to droid in a Yahoo moment? David 12 Sep 2005

111 comments Latest by loisnicholas

We all cheered as Yahoo cut the check and rewarded one of the most promising startups in Web 2.0. And rightfully so. Flickr took something as mundane as sharing your pictures online and spun it in a way that made everyone want to take lots of pictures.

But it was more than that. The human voice of Flickr gave it a homey, quirky sense of people having fun doing what they love. From the very first moment you not only liked the service but also cared for the people behind it. It was enough to make it a no-brainer to put your photos on their server.

Now that welcoming, quirky, human voice has been strangled and replaced by the metallic commands of a corporate droid. It’s a damn shame and a terrible business move, in my humble opinion. Hopefully it won’t stand.

Consider the signup screen for Flickr before Yahoo:

They make jokes about the screen name, remind you that it’s changeable, express their hatred for spam, and poke fun at the terms of use. And just as importantly, they only ask three questions and a confirmation. That’s it. Takes no time to complete, involves little brain activity, and you get to chuckle about it. In other words, a near perfect signup procedure.

Now consider the signup screen for Flickr after Yahoo (which in true megaplex style requires three redirects and clicking signup twice, both on Flickr and the Yahoo-Flickr site):

Not only is it two-and-a-half times longer, it involves sixteen questions and an opt-out cross-sell “opportunity” to get Yahoo Mail. It wants to know what industry you’re in and whether you like your Yahoo content from the US or Korea. It needs your first name, last name, gender, and possibly the middle name of your father.

It features a terms of service agreement that sounds like it was written by nasty lawyers armed with medieval instruments of truth-extraction. And they display it in the classic nobody-is-ever-going-to-read-this 4-line textarea.

The contrast to plain English terms like “You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Flickr users” from the original agreement couldn’t be starker.

“But only pedantic industry insiders care about all of this,” you say? Wrong. The only reason I dug into this issue and found these apalling before and after shots is because my lovely girlfriend tried to sign up for Flickr last night.

She didn’t made it and ended up at 23hq instead. Flickr squandered the implicit trust I had for them by subjecting her to this cruel and unsual signup hell.

This, however, is not meant to be a slam as much as a cry for mercy. Yahoo, Flickr, we know you guys can do so much better than this. We know that you don’t intend to poison the well for future acquisitions and make users hate them on instinct.

To Yahoo: Recognize that the reason you bought Flickr in the first place was (hopefully) because you liked the groove they had going on. And even more so, you liked the demonstrated success of said groove. Consider if the droidinization of Flickr perhaps couldn’t have happened slower, later, and with fewer casulties. You guys stand to be the new cool. This is one step forward, two backwards.

To Flickr: Come on, guys. You had us eating out of your palms. You’re so much cooler than this. We know its not your lips talking when you say “Another motivation is all the stuff that Flickr can leverage from around the Yahoo! network if people can use their Yahoo! IDs in Flickr.”

In other words, this is not about big being bad (we have plenty of other posts on that). This is just about not turning people away at the door, about doing more of what made you superstars in the first place, and about showing that the latest surge of M&A activity isn’t all about killing kittens.

We trust that the two of you can work it out!

111 comments so far (Jump to latest)

greggo my eggo 12 Sep 05

Oh dear. I’ve already saught professional counseling as a result of the near-raping of Flickr. Maybe Yahoo! can reimburse me.

Joshua Rudd 12 Sep 05

My wife had the same frustration when trying to sign up for a Flickr account — the very same day that they began requiring new accounts to sign up with a Yahoo! ID.

After an hour of frustration (trying to update her old Yahoo! account settings to reflect her new email address) and then being unable to delete her new Flickr account because the passwords mismatched (which they didn’t), she gave up, sent Flickr a nasty email, and vowed to never use Flickr.

It’s a shame because she didn’t get to experience the coolness the is (or was) Flickr, and i doubt she’ll give it another try — and she’s only one case-in-point.

Jay Owen 12 Sep 05

I experienced this same problem when I suggested someone signup for Flickr. I said… “hey, give this a try, it’s easy to signup and use…”

Well it turns out that it is no longer easy to sign up, it is a royal pain. It’s a sad story and a good example of getting real in reverse.

Dana O 12 Sep 05

I’d hope that Flickr comes through too. I was a Pro account holder before Yahoo came along. Since then they gave members some free perks (like extended memberships and things). If things keep going the way they are though, I may cancel my account after the free stuff ends….

Joe Clark 12 Sep 05

It seems like your complaint is really about the complexity of signing up for a Yahoo userID, which you only have to do if you don’t have one in the first place. If it were a three-question exercise complete with witty repartee, would you mind so much?

The business about ancien Flickr being homey and fun while nouveau Flickr is a corporate sellout is a bit oversold, I think.

Brandon 12 Sep 05

I signed up for Flickr just a couple of days before they started allowing Yahoo! ID logins. Recently I found this on the Flickr Help Page:

“Please note that we will be migrating all independent Flickr accounts to Yahoo!’s network in 2006. At that time, if you have not done so already, you will be asked to create a Yahoo! ID (or link your account to your Yahoo! ID if you already have one) in order to continue using your account.”

I signed up for Flickr. The last things I want are a Yahoo! email account and access to the Yahoo! network. When they force me to create a Yahoo! ID, and make me go through that arcane sign-up page, they’ll lose me as a customer.

raul 12 Sep 05

amen. the reason people were so religious about flickr was because of it’s human scale. The small niceties like a simple signup devoid of marketing and legalese are the hallmark of a company committed to it’s users rather than to some larger corporate entity.

Jeff Croft 12 Sep 05

Sorry, but I’m with Joe Clark on this one. The process of signing up for a Yahoo ID is a bit more complicated than the process of signing up for an old Flickr account, but that’s really the extent of the “corporatisim” in the new Flickr. In my opinion, Flickr has done a very good job of keeping its edge despite it having a corporate giant for an owner. Flickr still “has massages.” We still get the blog from Heather and Caterina. All in all, it’s the same old place. The signup process could be easier, but like Joe said — the idea that Flickr is totally different now that it’s corporate it totally oversold.

Brad 12 Sep 05

The Yahoo registration process is a deterrent in general, I think. A friend of mine recently invited me to join a Yahoo group she created, but I decide not to join after being confronted with the Yahoo signup page and reading their terms of use…I figured I’d either get flooded with spam or Yahoo would drop some spyware into my computer, or both.

Jake Tracey 12 Sep 05

I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite a while. A couple of months back when Yahoo! launched their new search interface, it seemed as if they were getting on the right track in terms of image again. Employees even had blogs, long before (most) other companies jumped on the bandwagon. The acquisition of products like Flickr and Konfabulator again strengthened the idea that yeah, Yahoo!might not be just a corporate behemoth. Hell, they may even ‘get it’.

Unfortunately, it’s a little sad to see some of the bad decisions they’ve made in the past few weeks. From the Y! Messenger default settings that change your default home page to the rename of Konfabulator to Yahoo! Widgets and now this.

What Yahoo! doesn’t understand is that no one wants to join them anymore. It feels like it’s always the bottom line at work (get that extra lead/sale/signup), and that isn’t the kind of business that people are passionate about.

emm ess eff 12 Sep 05

With apologies to the Buggles:

Yahoo killed the Web 2.0 star
Yahoo killed the Web 2.0 star

Pictures came and broke your heart.
Oh-a-a-a oh

Of course, they really didn’t, but they made the birthing of new devotees a more painful process.

In the meantime, despite my fascination with the Flickr world, I’ve gone the decidedly non-Web 2.0 route and installed Gallery2 microsites across my domains.

And what will become of Odeo post-investment?
“(You are a radio star.)”

Clever 12 Sep 05

I found it easier to sign up for Flickr since I already had a Yahoo account. I just signed into Yahoo and was done. From all the comments here it seems I am in the minority as most users don’t have Yahoo ids?

Anonymous Coward 12 Sep 05

“What Yahoo! doesn�t understand is that no one wants to join them anymore.”

Jake, what you don’t understand is that most of the world isn’t like you. Your techie, your in the know. Most aren’t and would happily join Yahoo.

Thomas 12 Sep 05

Brandon: You’re a USER, not a CUSTOMER. That’s one helluva difference.

Wolf Blitzer 12 Sep 05

Oddpost is next…. I now only use it for it’s IMAP storage, as I switched to Mac 2 years ago. Oddpost was AJAX before AJAX was cool, except that it was/is IE/PC only. Not cool. Maybe Yahoo will fix that.

Hello Oddpost user!

As you may have already heard, Oddpost was acquired by Yahoo! last year. Since then we’ve been cranking away on a new version of Yahoo! Mail, and we’re just about ready to show it to you and hear what you think.

If you’d like to try out the new Yahoo! Mail beta, send an email from your Oddpost account to [email protected] and include:

1. Your Oddpost username
2. Your Yahoo! ID (if you do not have a Yahoo! ID, you can get one for free by clicking here)
We’ll email you back as soon as your beta account is ready to go.

IMPORTANT: we are NOT migrating your Oddpost account now. This is just a sneak peek of what’s in store for all Oddpost users in the months to come.

Thanks very much, we’re looking forward to your feedback!
The Oddpost team

P.S. for the nerds: if you like the new Yahoo! Mail beta so much that you’d like to start using it full-time for your mail, drop us a line and we’ll happily start forwarding your Oddpost mail over to Yahoo! now.

Ben Askins 12 Sep 05

My wife and I shared the same frustration when we went to sign up for a second Flickr account two nights ago.

They’ve turned a casual walk in the park into a mountain trek across three state lines.

James 12 Sep 05

have a tissue. freaks.

Jocke 12 Sep 05

LOL! How on earth did they manage that? From three questions to sixteen? And why would I want to be a yahoo member? To get crappy email and crappy forums?

Jimbo 12 Sep 05

David, Sorry that this is off-topic, but I was wondering could you share how you took your Yahoo! webpage image. I’ve been trying to do this with Safari (Save-as-pdf, and tweaking the page settings so that it all renders on a single page). There must be an easier way!

Brady 12 Sep 05

Pretty awful. I’ve tried to walk users that did not have an email address through Yahoo’s sign-up form and it is painful. MSN’s is worse.

Hopefully Flickr won’t be degraded in other areas. But, hey, if it does it opens the market for a new player!

Jake Tracey 12 Sep 05

“Jake, what you don�t understand is that most of the world isn�t like you. Your techie, your in the know. Most aren�t and would happily join Yahoo.”

Why would a regular consumer join Yahoo over any other company? Yahoo has lost a huge amount of mindshare in the past few years (in a number of different markets) and will continue to do so if they keep making poor decisions. Flickr was gaining popularity at a very fast rate and could’ve held it’s own without this change — after reading some responses to the changes it seems they might even lose a portion of the users that joined the service before the acquisition.

There are plenty of examples of host companies that successfully promote individual brands without making arbitrary changes like Yahoo does — wouldn’t you agree that by basically making Flickr a Yahoo branded service it lowers the chances of Flickr being known as THE place to share photos?

Brandon 12 Sep 05

“Brandon: You�re a USER, not a CUSTOMER. That�s one helluva difference.”

I don’t agree, Thomas. Yes, I use Flickr’s service. But if I like the experience, then once a year I will pay money to Flickr and in exchange they will provide me with a service to use. Isn’t that the basic relationship between any seller/buyer, producer/consumer? Customer and user aren’t mutually exclusive. Am I not both at the same time when paying for and using Flickr?

I don’t find Yahoo’s services appealing, and haven’t really enjoyed the past experiences I’ve had with them. So my point was that if Yahoo takes over Flickr with a heavy hand, changes the “culture,” and turns it into just another Yahoo service, I’m not going to be happy with it anymore and will stop paying for the right to use it. Yes, that will make me a former USER of Flickr, but when we cease to exchange money for goods and services, that will also make me a former CUSTOMER.

Charles Miller 12 Sep 05

When Flickr introduced Yahoo! logins, I moved over to my (existing) Yahoo! screen-name almost immediately. I didn’t really care either way, but since the documentation stated quite starkly that my existing Flickr ID was going to be made obselete some time in the future, I figured I may as well make the switch.

What they didn’t mention was… “Remember me” didn’t work. They only fixed that a few days ago. Which suggests to me that Flickr was pushed quite firmly towards screen-name sharing , even before it could be completely implemented.

Meanwhile, another annoyance has surfaced. I like having Flickr remember my identity, but I feel uncomfortable staying logged in to the entire network of Yahoo sites, most of which I don’t use. However, I can’t stay logged into one without being logged into them all.

Anonymous Coward 12 Sep 05

@Jimbo, I bet he used Paparazzi

Tim Lucas 12 Sep 05

I’m not stating my opinion, only my experiences, and I’ve had 2 friends in the past few days refuse to sign up to Flickr because of the rego process (and they’re both non-techies). One went to Kodakgallery instead, even after my constant harassment, and the other decided sharing photos wasn’t for them. I hadn’t even noticed they’d changed the process until I asked them why they hadn’t registered yet.

Brad 12 Sep 05

Jeff Croft: Corporate Sellouts?

You be the judge

Mike 12 Sep 05

Saw that coming a mile away.

I’m sure Yahoo told our Flickr buddies: “We love Flickr as it is and promise not to change it … much.”

The Flickr folk were probably too busy counting the zeros on the check in front of them, and missed that little disclaimer. Sellouts.

I’m just pissed that I never got around to applying for that Linux sysadmin job Flickr had posted pre-buyout. Wonder what my options would’ve been worth? :)

Firefly 12 Sep 05

Flickr is dying…

A corporate picture site is spawned.

Peter Mentzer 12 Sep 05

Anyone else notice the fact that the flickr logo **still** says “beta”? I think that’s kind of funny. I don’t know, but the ‘beta’ thing kind of rubs me the wrong way. Like, you can pull it off when it’s just you and a couple folks trying out your idea, but once yahoo buys you? Then it just becomes a marketing ploy to make your company seem “accessible”. You know, like hey, we’re just a couple guys with some computers in our garage trying something “nifty” (to use a flickr type word.)

kmilden 12 Sep 05

Yahoo wonders why google owns 60% of search. It is because they keep it simple, real, and to the point. Google buys blogger� they didn’t add their logo, a 16 question sign-up form, or tie it into a gmail upsell…

JenF 12 Sep 05

So what’s a Flickr type company to do when they do sell to a big bohemoth like Yahoo? Our company was in a similar situation. One day we were 4 people making our own rules, and the next, we were owned by a publicly-held company with a board of directors and volumes of rules and regulations that need to be followed as a public company. And OMG don’t get me started on Sarbanes Oxley.

We have to have terms and conditions - we simply can’t get around it. Does anybody have any suggestions on incorporating them in such a way as to not send droves of people running away screaming for their lives? We want to stay nifty and fun and connect with our customers, but we have to do it within the rules of the parent company.

Beau Hartshorne 12 Sep 05

A Yahoo account provides much more than just Flickr access. I can see the need for more vigorous bot checking, and for a few extra measures to protect a user’s identity. Your old Flickr account didn’t have a finance section. Considering the constraints, what could be better? Can we lose the “Customizing Yahoo” section?

Mr. Jones 12 Sep 05

If your girlfriend is unable to handle Yahoo’s signup form, she is probably better off using 23hq.

Brad 12 Sep 05

Mr Jones, that was unneccesarily mean.

Anonymous 12 Sep 05

You people act like signing up with Yahoo is like signing some contract that forces you to use all their services. You don’t have to use Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Forums or any of Yahoo’s services if you don’t want to. All that changes is the Flickr signup and signin forms are a little different.

Brad 12 Sep 05

Anonymous: All that changes is the Flickr signup and signin forms are a little different.

You miss the point.

Something that was simple has become complex with no added benefit.

You might argue that there is added benefit, that Yahoo offers services you didn’t have a choice with before. That’s not the point. If you want to sign up with Flickr now, it’s more complicated than before. Period.

This argues what I continue to feel about convergence in all realms. Do one thing and do it well. Phones shouldn’t be MP3 players or cameras. MP3 players shouldn’t be PDA’s. Still cameras shouldn’t be video cameras. All these things make sense on the surface but fall apart in practice. Just because something has a processor inside, doesn’t mean it should take advantage of every single aspect of the processor. My PVR has a hard drive and a CPU, but that doesn’t mean it should be used as a camera.

So then the argument goes, but I have so many devices. Combining them makes things easier. I say no. It’s like the Yahoo sign up form for Flickr. I can do lots on that form, but it sucks and I don’t like it. I want a phone that works as a phone, a camera that works as a really good camera and an MP3 player that is called the iPod nano.

Do one thing and do it well. If you want to do something else, create a new brand or a new category.

Yahoo should have hidden themselves behind Flickr and used their power to market and promote from outside the spectrum. Instead they cannibalized their audience and will inevitably turn Flickr into something unrecognizable.

Read Positioning by Jack Trout and Al Ries. Even though it�s all about marketing, but so is everything.

One final argument for this tangent. We love (I assume) 37Signals for what they do. But if JF came out tomorrow and said, “We’re selling TVs”, not only would we not buy their TVs, but we would lose some interest in their existing product line. Why? 37Signals represents great web applications. But that greatness does not extend to other realms. Yahoo doesn’t understand that Flickr meant something to its supporters. Just because Yahoo and Flickr are both Internet companies does not make them compatible brands. I’m not saying Yahoo shouldn’t have bought Flickr, I’m just saying they did it the wrong way. They�re an Internet company with no real identity. What is Yahoo? Who knows? But this is the message of the Flickr form:

�Hey, sign up for Flickr and Yahoo Email, and get a Yahoo ID (well actually you need a yahoo ID) and if you don�t have one, well, here�s how you get one and if you�re forgotten it well here is how you get it back and thanks for you support and if you don�t want spam please let us know otherwise we�ll send it to you.�

Instead of:

Make a great online photo album without hassles

vishi 12 Sep 05

The Flickr login was done by one guy, while this decision came out of a discussion.

Chris 12 Sep 05

Brad is totally correct. I’m glad someone commenting “gets” it rather than simply flaming.

Brady 12 Sep 05

cheers to Brad

James Cruden 13 Sep 05

It’s odd to read this reaction and mesh it with the frequent calls in the comments on this very site for a practically identical maneuver by 37signals for their own products.

All that Yahoo! has done here is pull their newly acquired “product” under their existing set of products and allow users to login to all the Yahoo! services with the same account.

I completely fail to understand how that would cause problems for people.

90% of the websites out there that require registration want too much information from you. Simple fact is that they’re holding the cards, and if you want to use their service, you’re going to have to give them that information., for example, requires a pretty much identical set of information, on top of a bunch of “email newsletters” and “select advertisers offers”.

Really, this is just in place to put all users of Yahoo! services on the same level, so that users who wish to use more than on service can do so without having to create new accounts, remember multiple passwords and increase the likelihood that users will try out other services offered by Yahoo! and increase their market share. Considering the fact that they spent so much money on acquiring flickr, it’s not such an unreasonable request, really.

And, let’s not forget - every time that discussion of 37s products come along, there are a lot of request for 37s to create a single login for backpack, basecamp, ta-da-lists and whatever else may come along.

Dan Hartung 13 Sep 05

Brad’s right — this is just step one on the road to making Flickr just an interface to “Yahoo! Photos”. (Since that’s what they did with Oddpost — chuck its backend in under Yahoo! Mail — I assume something similar will eventually happen.)

That’s not a tragedy, really. Right now (and I’m not a member, just an observer) Flickr’s A+ has merely been downgraded to an A. And Flickr’s featureset is definitely going to live on (indeed, it’s going to become increasingly copied) — so if that’s what you’re there for, I don’t think there’s much to worry about.

If you were there for the indieness, for the community, you’ll probably feel sidelined. I think that’s the signal here.

But it’s not going to slow down the whole Yahoo! Photos strategy — mark my words, in 18 months or so Grandma will be using Yahoo! Photos to tag and stream her digicam output (“My rhodendrons! My great-grandchildren!”). But the unique community that was Flickr will be gone.

Make no mistake, either — the Flickr crew knew all this going into the deal. They’re smart people who saw an opportunity. I don’t begrudge them that, nor do I think they’re having night sweats about the decision. This was an integral, pre-ordained result of the sale of the company.

So what�s a Flickr type company to do when they do sell to a big bohemoth like Yahoo?

Don’t sell. Have you been reading SvN long?

Larry Williams 13 Sep 05

Luckily I signed up before Yahoo acquired Flickr. I was personally not impressed with Flickr after signing up. The user interface is terrible. There seems to be 100 ways of organizing your pictures on 100 different pages. I’ll be looking for something else I think soon. My own hosing would be the best. Does anyone know how to export pictures from Flickr?

Larry Williams 13 Sep 05

hosing=hosting ;)

Chris 13 Sep 05

Yahoo is a big corporation, with lawyers and with groups of staff each of which need their ‘me too’ moment. It needs these lengthy sign-ups to give every single opportunity to grab people into their network. And, as others have written, Flickr is no more. It’s a piece of technology which is now being subsumed into the Yahoo way of thinking.

It’ll happen with all the online entertainment services that News Corp are buying, and it’ll happen to Skype now that eBay have ‘em.

Personally, I can’t stand lengthy signups. It may well be that the next generation of web users, those who will fully appreciate and use Web 2.0 (or n+1) technology, agree, then all might change.

Paul D 13 Sep 05

“Something that was simple has become complex with no added benefit.”

Add “ridiculously” before “complex” and you have it in a nutshell.

I signed up for Flickr two months ago and found it so useful I bought a pro account. I had been eyeing Flickr for a few weeks beforehand, and the sign-up looked so easy I finally went for it. If I was interested today, that awful Yahoo page would scare me away. I would skip it altogether. I don’t want a fricking Yahoo ID, thank you, and I can do without the frustration of a 3-page sign-up process. People like me are damned tired of the way corporations treat us.

Paul D 13 Sep 05

“The majority of net users (in most countries) already have a Yahoo! ID, so for most people, this is much easier: all they have to do is chose a screen name for use on Flickr. Believe it or not, it�s a fact.”

There’s an eight-letter word to describe that statement. The first four are “bull”. More likely, you have lots of people with 4 Yahoo accounts they don’t use or remember because they tried signing up for something like Yahoo Groups (like I did years ago), disliked the experience, and abandoned the account.

David Heinemeier Hansson 13 Sep 05

Just for the record, this is about the signup process. Not about any other qualities of Flickr. Of course it’s not all gone to hell. Flickr is still great.

What I’m saying is that its a damn shame that the signup process had to go through this frankenstein transformation so soon. Especially if Yahoo is working on making the signup less insane. Why not wait just a little longer until it didn’t hurt this month? Why the rush?

Regarding the TOS, it’s not about what rights the new or the old did or didn’t give. It’s about decrying the loss of a human voice. Just as this whole debate is about the loss of the human touch in language and ordeal around signup.

I have no illusions thinking that Flickr can turn the supertanker that is Yahoo signup around from one day to the next. That’s why its so painful to see that it had to go so damn fast to get Flickr on board of that.

In the end, no one is arguing whether neither Yahoo or Flickr has “the right” to do this. That would be a silly argument. The argument is merely that this is turning people away who aren’t already in Yahoo land (and I certainly don’t recognize the stat that the “majoirty of the net” should be active Yahoo users) and the loss of human welcome for those who do manage to get through it. And if Flickr is to remain the premier destination for online photo sharing, this is not helping.

Oscar 13 Sep 05

Sigining up for Yahoo! is a pain, no doubt. The new Yahoo! IM is intrusive and unfair, as it should ask for what it installs, not for what it does not install.
If you do not have a Yahoo! ID, it is definitelly a pain to sign up for Flickr, above all if that involves retrieving from the depths of your memory that old ID.
But c’mon, if the problem of new Flickr is just the log in, well, it is more difficult, but possible.
And above all, why on earth people do NOT want to have a Yahoo! ID or an e-mail or have access to the network??? I have it but never use it. That’s all.

Brad 13 Sep 05

Just for the record, this is about the signup process. Not about any other qualities of Flickr.

Sort of agree, although since David started the thread, who am I to say what this is all about.

However, although it may only be specifically about the signup process, it represents bigger issues.

Yahoo has the perception that co-branding (Yahoo Flickr or whatever the new incarnation will be) is better than one name on its own. Yahoo also seems to have made these changes because it is easier for Yahoo, not necessarily easier for the Flickr users (new or old).

The word Yahoo doesn’t mean anything except maybe “Big Internet Company”. I firmly believe that Flickr would enjoy far more success if Yahoo had hidden its ownership (or shielded) and used its power to promote and market Flickr on it’s own and took advantage of the good will already established.

It’s like when Big Bird (See “Follow that Bird”) from Sesame Street was adopted by the Dodo’s. He thought it would be great to be in a place with other birds, but in the end they just tried to turn him into a Dodo.

That’s what happening to Flickr, it’s being turned into a Dodo. Not because any one person is stupid. I believe Stewart when he says that everyone is working hard and smart. But I don’t believe that a corporation like Yahoo, with all its layers of bureaucracy and legalese has the confidence or the ability or the agility to lead a company like Flickr with the passion or innovation that Stewart and his wife were able to. Flickr will be bigger than before, for sure, it will have more members than before, for sure, but it will be like McDonalds compared to the trendy bistro.

Martin 13 Sep 05

My summary of the two sign-up pages:

OLD: Provide us with the bare minimum to use the service.

NEW: Additional fields for advertising purpose only: gender, birthday, first and last name, zip code,industry, specialisation, title

It is about the feel of it. It feels like you got into an iterrogation. I think David is right, it lost the human touch (“come, get in”), the user is now treated like something to be squeezed out.

No doubt, the yahoo marketing department is constantly demanding more “knowledge” about its users to offer more “targeted” advertisement. And default subscription to yahoo mail so the numbers look good.

Arthur Hodgkiss 13 Sep 05

> Flickr would enjoy far more success if Yahoo had hidden
> its ownership (or shielded) and used its power to promote
> and market Flickr

Couldn’t agree more. Talk about destruction. The Flickr admins tell us it’s going to be all right, but I’m not optimistic.

Luckily, I have a few spare non-Pro accounts already set up, so I can hopefully avoid having to login to Flahoo as fluffy_bunny_90210 - for the time being at least.

A Nonnie Moose 13 Sep 05

Speaking of inane registration processes…

Jordan Roher 13 Sep 05

Of course, the flipside to all this is that if you have a Yahoo! ID and want to sign up for Flickr, you just type in your password, pick a Flickr nickname, and you’re done. You can go from Yahoo! user to Flickr member in the same amount of time it takes to use the old sign up form (or at least I did).

I’m still wondering why the Flickr community is so up in arms about all this. So now they have to sign up for a Yahoo! account. Did Yahoo! change any of Flickr’s policies or prices? Has the site functionality changed? Is there more intrusive advertizing? Or is this akin to Mac users complaining that the appearance of their still totally usable and breathtakingly intuitive programs changes slightly on each revision?

Fathead 13 Sep 05

I hate Yahoo with a passion, but I never let it get in the way of business. I never use the email address, so that’s not a problem. I only sign up for what I want when I really want it bad. Yahoo sucks in bulk but I’m not scared to use ‘em and abuse ‘em. I don’t have to read their ads and I get what I want. When it gets too hard, I’ll dump them no problem.

Utter Doul 13 Sep 05

Your post pointed me to 23hq and I noticed that though in their FAQ they say the free account has 15MB monthly quota, on signing up, the upload page says I have a 1024MB quota. Just FYI.

Kim Siever 13 Sep 05

Well, this now explains why none of my family have signed up when I’ve invited them to join. I guess I joined Flickr early enough to avoid all that.

test 13 Sep 05


Bryan C 13 Sep 05

C’mon, guys. It’s not that bad, and it’s way overblown to suggest that flickr is ruined. It is a useless and divisive and stupid change, however, and I hope that Stewart and friends are doing their best to drum that in at Yahoo.

And it seems like a solution would be simple. Have a staged signup. where the basic three-questions and the bot protection field are required for access. The other stuff can wait until later, maybe when people put in their payment information to buy prints or whatever. Or offer some kind of incentive (more storage?) for users who want to give more information. This is the way things work in the real world, so why not online?

But what companies need to realize is that that information is utterly and completely useless. Users put in false information wherever they can. They’ll check any checkbox, hit any submit button, and gleefully ignore any TOS because they know everyone else does the same. The only thing you can trust is what the user cares about, which is damn little. Everything else is a WOMBAT - a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time. While the corporate types imagine they’re collecting lucrative information it’s really a false metric of success that only encourages harmful policies.

dusoft 13 Sep 05

Yahoo ID! is awful thing. It is user unfriendly, it want so many information from you, I gave the signing up up lot of times, yet. Those have been many times when someone asked me to either join yahoo group or so and I refused because of this absolutely unusable yahoo ID!

Usable web will continue… but without YahooID! in its current form.

And “bullshit” is certainly the word used for describing YahooID! as having the most users in the world (or most of the users).

Drew 13 Sep 05

Amen Brother. Amen.

Jimbo 13 Sep 05

Alan & Anonymous - thanks very much! Paparazzi! is just what I’ve been looking for.
Is there no end to the things one can learn from SvN? :-)

Kristopher Tillery 13 Sep 05

Despite what one might think after reading these comments, the Yahoo! brand is recognized and well-regarded in the United States and overseas. I think that this is a supposition that can be generally accepted based on market research ( as an example that can be found in ~10 seconds of searching; there are many more exhaustive studies that elude to this point).

Accepting the above supposition and explicitly separating the �technocrat� from the �average� person or the �person-at-large� on the internet, it becomes increasingly clear why Flickr (and the Flickr community) benefits from a Yahoo! network sign in, independent of the complexity that the new process adds.

The “average” or “non-technical” user was unlikely to be familiar with the Flickr brand or the “techie wit” that accompanied Flickr’s original sign in message. To him/her, this familiarity in tone and lack of corporate affiliation might be disconcerting: one can easily imagine an “average” user confusing Flickr for some kind of college class project. By associating the Flickr brand with the Yahoo! brand during the sign in process, “average” users are more likely to see the service as a mainstream, commercial option for photo sharing. Thus, they may be equally willing to complete a more complex sign in process given the added benefit of a certain “brand security.�

What, though, does this mean for the internet “technocrat”? For him/her, the added inconvenience signals the death of the Flickr brand independent from its parent; this is in some sense unavoidable if Flickr is to broaden its audience target. However, I would argue that the benefits derived from the Yahoo!-Flickr association outweigh the inconveniences driven by Yahoo! ownership because in the long term the Flickr community-at-large benefits greatly from a more diverse network of photos and members regardless of what happens to the Flickr brand. Searching for photos flagged with the term “apple” will no longer return only images of the next greatest iPod; a search such as this might display images of a neighbor�s garden or a family’s trip to the orchard. While this example is trivial, it reflects an important strength that Yahoo! has brought / will bring to the Flickr service: greater diversity in opinion and viewpoint.

Jill 13 Sep 05

I don’t like Yahoo. The over all vibe seems pretty uncreative, unimaginative and unremarkable. Their products are hard to use. I don’t think the average person likes stuff that’s mediocre. I don’t think this is a technocrat vs. average user thing. I’m not a technocrat. I’m just a girl with a Yahoo store. (Which I’m in the process of shutting down because it’s clunky and hard to use and yucky looking.)

Flickr still seems to be okay, though, for the most part.

YahooRules! 13 Sep 05

Are you all upset that Flickr is more interested in getting money from Yahoo than your $24?

N8K99 13 Sep 05

I used to be able to bulk load an entire set of photographs to and still use my cellphone to post photos to my blog. Now with the corporate Yahoo buyout, the drive to purchase the $24 account prohibits me from doing that. I did like it better when they were really free!

Brad 13 Sep 05

Kristopher Tillery: Despite what one might think after reading these comments, the Yahoo! brand is recognized and well-regarded in the United States and overseas.

That’s not the point. I disagree with the premise of your argument. That popularity can translate from one realm to another. No doubt they will probably get bigger given Yahoo’s user base, but not nearly as big as they could have gotten if Yahoo would have kept Flickr as Flickr instead of turning it into Yahoo Flickr.

It is loosing what made it Flickr and turning into what makes Yahoo Yahoo. Sure we are only talking about the sign up and sure the founders will try hard to keep the original flare, but it’s gone and grown up and been bought out.

Instead of standing on it’s own as the premier site for hosting your pictures it has now been swalled by Yahoo and has become yet another service of the behemoth. It’s inevitable and it’s sad. I’m crying. I’m wallowing in my tears. I’m actually wishing i was the one with the millions in my pocket from the sale.

Stewart Butterfield 14 Sep 05

Derek, you can see how we respond if you scroll up. (And it was David, not Jason.)

Kyle 14 Sep 05

Alright, so the sign up is a bit abusive. As a Pro Flickr user (from pre-Yahoo days) I really don’t understand the broo-ha-ha over the switch to Yahoo IDs. It makes sense, it means I have one less username and password to remember, it ties Flickr into my other Yahoo services, and it generally makes life easier for me as a user. Some people are just getting really silly about this change.

Frank 14 Sep 05

Interesting article about a rival fotoblogging site.

Kevin Cheng 14 Sep 05

Joshua said:

Did Yahoo! change any of Flickr�s policies or prices?

Yep they did. They made it cheaper and as Stewart said, more liberal to the user.

Kristopher Tillery 14 Sep 05


Thanks for the response to my previous comment. However, I am a bit lost in regard to your assertion that Flickr could have grown even larger without the Yahoo! user base.

It seems that the real UED problem is not applicable to people who already hold a Yahoo! account (although I personally signed up pre-Yahoo! and thus can’t confirm that porting an existing Yahoo! ID to Flickr is painless). Thus, Flickr immediately benefits from access to and visibility among nearly 400MM people to whom this problem does not apply.

I just don’t see that data to support the assertion that Flickr would have grown larger without the Yahoo! user base. Unfortunately, we both passed into hypotheticals so I am afraid there is no real test either way. This would, though, make an interesting design lab experiment: mock-up a service and issue two versions (one with a corporate partner brand ad another independent). Then, track the sign up patterns of users in a controlled environment where you can change one variable at a time (i.e. reduce subscription price on corporate-owned site, etc.)

JC 14 Sep 05

Yahoo sign up screens and log in interface design has always been complete crap.
I’ve lost track of the number of times I have abandoned anything I wanted info on when I was caught in the yahoo trap. Typically, I miss one of the fields (easy to do) and when I click back, all or some of what I entered is missing. A realm pain! And thier obsession with passwords constantly is nuts. So I pretty much have avoided Yahoo with much pasion.
Now that Flickr is absorbed into that horid domain, I’ll probably avoid it too.

Brad 14 Sep 05

Kristopher Tillery

I’m not saying they would have grown bigger without Yahoo’s user base, I’m saying they should have leveraged their user base and their deep pockets to market Flickr (among their user base and beyond) as Flickr, rather than as a service of Yahoo (Yahoo Photo’s, Yahoo Groups, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Flickr).

By cobranding (read: Melting Flickr into Yahoo) they are lessening the value of both Yahoo and Flickr.

What is Yahoo? Who knows.

What was Flickr then? Really cool social photo albums. Period.

What is Flickr now? Really cool pictures, a portal to Yahoo, a cross-selling mechanism to get new Yahoo users, a way to introduce people to other Yahoo services.

Yahoo is Walmart.
Walmart makes lots of money and has tonnes of customers.
People know what Walmart is and what it is not.

Flickr will change and become less like Flickr and more like Yahoo. That is good for Yahoo, bad for Flickr.

david gunnells 14 Sep 05

@ Stewart: good luck getting the Yahoo signup crap down in size and obtusenes! the sooner, the better!

as a pro user (using flickr since summer ‘04), I’m not sold on the idea of being forced to create a yahoo id that is associated w/ my flickr account, especially considering I’ve paid for a pro account through summer of ‘07.

granted, all the info that I used to pay for the account is now sitting on a yahoo server somewhere (I guess) and there’s probably nothing I can do about that…but the forced yahoo id thing doesn’t make sense to me. if I wanted a yahoo ID, I’ll get one. if I wanted a flickr account, same thing. I don’t need both.

I agree w/ a few earlier posts of witnessing family/friends pass over signing up for flickr since the yahoo ID (fiasco?) and I didn’t realize what the deal was until one of them told me about the ridiculously long signup procedure, which I didn’t have to go through last year…

here’s to optimism and a few pints of Guinness to remind me that this is still just a silly point of discussion in the end.

Stewart Butterfield 14 Sep 05

Brad: “What was Flickr then? Really cool social photo albums. Period.

What is Flickr now? Really cool pictures, a portal to Yahoo, a cross-selling mechanism to get new Yahoo users, a way to introduce people to other Yahoo services. “

What you’re saying is just plainly false - it’s not like we both have opinions about it and they are different: you are saying things that are incorrect.

Not sure if you’ve used Flickr before, but it is not “social photo albums” (and was not). And now it is not “a cross-selling mechanism to get new Yahoo users” - it’s the same as it was, except people use Yahoo! IDs for authentication. Yahoo could care less about a few hundred thousand people getting Yahoo! IDs.

Stewart Butterfield 14 Sep 05

(*couldn’t* care less)

Brad 15 Sep 05

What you�re saying is just plainly false - it�s not like we both have opinions about it and they are different: you are saying things that are incorrect.

Sure. I might be wrong. In referring to Flickr as “Social Photo Albums” and Yahoo Flickr as “a cross selling mechanism” I oversimplified it and missed important features.

I’m willing to make a bet though. If I’m wrong and within one year Yahoo hasn’t completely overtaken Flickr and changed it into something unrecognizable from what it is today, I know a great Indian place in Gastown (Sitar) and I’ll buy you and Caterina dinner. If I’m right, the next time you’re in Ottawa, you have to babysit my kids so my wife and I can go out.


Stewart Butterfield 15 Sep 05

Deal. Definitely. (Though, we’re based in SF now - but, I could use a trip back to Vancouver …)

Paul Smyth 19 Sep 05

David, I have to say you’re right on the money with your posting.

The only good thing may be that as photstreaming/photoblogging become more and more mainstream Apple may step in and do an ‘iPod’ on it! In which case Yahoo/flickr better watch out.

I love Flickr but I’m very unhappy at the way Flickr seems certain to go in the future. I see Flickr being one very small component of the huge Yahoo behemoth and that I believe with be the death of it. Yahoo are only interested in rolling out Flickr to their existing users as just another feature. This is complately different from the situation that existed before where Flickr was the primary concern of the people that ran it. It will be one tiny bit of Yahoo and once in place really won’t be very important to them. No doubt they will ‘improve’ it to the point where it is no longer usable as well.

Bart Bons 19 Sep 05

I also suspect that this signup-crap is a preview of the future of Flickr. Last week, I wanted to ‘quickly’ invite old dad to my photostream. He was totally lost trying to get through the Yahoo sign-up form. (“Hi, Dad here. About that Flickr thing. Can’t you just print the photos on paper?”).

PS. Does any know of a good tool for extracting your photo’s from Flickr?

More important things to worry about 20 Sep 05

This is all a storm in a tea-cup.

Get over it already, any half-competent person should be able to handle the yahoo registration. If they can’t , well they should learn, its not as though the internet is going away anytime soon.

Paul D 20 Sep 05

So when is Yahoo going to include malware in your Flickr registration? Maybe they’ll include it in the next version of the Flickr upload tools.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just upgrade your copy of Yahoo IM or read this blog post:

Derek K. Miller 23 Sep 05

I finally got around to reading Stewart’s responses here, and it’s great that Flickr realizes that Yahoo!’s sign-up sucks. It’s nice that they’re trying to change it. Unlike others, I’m not worried that Flickr is going to cease being Flickr. (If it does, I’ll find a way to get the photos out and bail, but I don’t have any such plans and don’t expect to need to.)

What I still don’t get is why, since Flickr knows that the Yahoo! signup sucks, they had to force people to use it BEFORE they figured out how to make it better. As I said earlier here and in my mail to Flickr, they’re losing signups from people scared away by the process—almost including me, who’s already a Pro member and was trying to set up one of my friends with Flickr. That’s a SERIOUS PROBLEM.

And the fact that most Net users have Yahoo! accounts already is not helpful. I have a Yahoo! account, and I’d forgotten what it is and my password—until I had to go hunting to figure it out knowing that I’d have to merge it with my Flickr account down the line now. So the new signup process has created additional non-productive work for me.

My friend also might have a Yahoo! account, but she doesn’t know what it is either. Plenty of people set up a Yahoo! account ages ago and never use it.

Now, don’t get us all wrong. We love Flickr. We still do, and we want to keep up loving it. That’s why we’re performing such an intervention here.

Brenda 24 Sep 05

It still scares me to think of yahoo know every move i make across so many services - they now what news i read, what mail i get, what photos i post. they can cross referance it and some heartless computer make up a profile of me.
It’s almost as evil as google.

In my own country there’s some tight privacy laws, that don’t allow unique identifiers for a person without a good reason, and don’t allow linking between services except by name matching. Yahoo and flickr are foreign companies and can do what they like, but the privacy implications of linking my flickr account to any yahoo id is just too creepy for me. i’m outta there as soon as they require it.

het0r 26 Sep 05

As an existing pro user. My attention was drawn to this when I sent out about 10 invites, and only got 3 people who took it up. I thought how odd, my better half was saying, “my friends cant see the pictures”, “they don�t know how to get on it”. Many people I invite aren’t that tech savvy, Flickr was good because it was simple. I decided to check it out for my self and used one my other mail addresses to invite my self and see the process for myself . Arrrggggggghhhhh. It is a mess.

So the up-shot is 7 out of 10 users don�t prefer Yahoo, they just don�t register they don�t see pictures, I look like an idiot for inviting them to a lame product, my partner thinks im deliberately keeping her family form seeing the pictures of our children and, I have to have make phone calls to all sorts people trying to talk them through Yahoo login process, do I work for Yahoo tech support, NO I don�t - I don�t want to do there job. Users experience is in the toilet.

Give it a go yourself, it leaves a bitter taste, I just don�t want to invite people anymore as the whole user experience is off-putting.

I could allow all my pics to be seen by anyone and not have this problem just send em weblink; but I prefer to have my children’s pictures private and not visible to some sections of the Internet community.

I will be looking around for somewhere else to put my pictures that my friends and family can actually see them, over the coming months, might do the job. It is a real shame, it was good because it was simple. Yahoo themselves must see a huge percentage of failures to take up the invitation and as that is one of the ways they gain new users they have really dropped the ball on it. Or they dont care about new users.

When they ask me to migrate using a Yahoo login - bye bye im gone. Even though it will have over a year to run on the account, id rather not use it anymore. Real shame as there are lots good thing about Flickr.

Dan G 27 Sep 05

Ok here is a question for all of you. Does anyone know of a website that will let you sign into Yahoo! without having to sign in(I know there is one because i have been there)?

Dan G 27 Sep 05

Ok here is a question for all of you. Does anyone know of a website that will let you sign into Yahoo! without having to sign in(I know there is one because i have been there)?

Akshay 28 Sep 05

Plz give the process of cracking yahoo passwords

Alex 28 Sep 05

I was just about to sign up to Flickr, but got scared off by the TOS at the end. Specifically, two things did it.

The paragraph that said that anything that I submit to them other than photos, graphics, audio, or video, can be used by yahoo for whatever purpose. I’m not sure how this would hurt me, but I don’t know why it’s there either. Does it apply to the information in the registration? I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s not there for my benifit.

Second, you are forced to recieve the yahoo news letter. You can’t opt out. That would just get spam filtered anyways, but it’s the damn principle. I don’t care for spam.

adnan 02 Oct 05

hello dear how r u come on now? iam waiting for you ok

Trianna Tisdale 06 Oct 05

i do not have a credit card i just start getting a job. i really want to have music i can listen for free. but they said i need a credit card i though it was for free. it is but YOU HAVE TO HAVE A CREDIT CARD.WHAT’S UP WITH THAT. my friend said it’s because their really going to make you pay for it any ways. i said yea their cheatin everybodies money a way. i already got 36 people at my work to stop useing it.

Anonymous Coward 09 Dec 05

Can you stop using the term Web 2.0? I haven’t even heard Hoxtonites pulling out such a vacuous term in years.

Steve Ryan 09 Dec 05

I’m not sure of the current state of things, but it was certainly a painful process. I developed a web site for a friend, using the Flickr API to display photos. I tested everything using my account to make sure it worked, and then asked him to create an account for himself for the “real” content. It took days and multiple phone calls to support, before we could resolve the resulting tangle of Yahoo! and Flickr IDs, passwords, and so forth. On top of that, the API was different for new-style accounts, so my testing was wasted anyway.

Sohail Mirza 11 Dec 05

I completely agree with your assessment. The Yahoo sign-up page is an utter deterent. I’ve tried to go through it a couple of times, but each time I end up turning away realizing that it’s not worth it.

I want a Flickr account, not a Yahoo account. I simply haven’t been able to sign-up to Flickr with the current sign-up page.

Germ�n Largo 12 Dec 05

I’ve been using the same Yahoo! account for 6-7 years, and flickr added to Yahoo! services is the greatest thing that Yahoo! could be done for their loyal users. They bought too, so Yahoo! is really in social web, web 2.0 or whatever you call it.

the new flickr login page? well, maybe you can substract four or five questions, but it’s not a big trouble like almost all of you remark.

I only hope that all this services under Yahoo! 360 umbrella make 360 more friendly. 360 it’s really awful and with this new services, they can make it more friendly

David Watson 17 Dec 05

As if the signup conundrum wasn’t bad enough, they went and horked up the services login while they were at it. From what I can tell, the login for services such as the uploadr now requires a special auth tied to the yahoo stuff too. There goes the simple REST interface.

Since merging my flickr account into my yahoo id, I can’t use any of the upload tools I’m used to, and that’s deeply problematic since I don’t have anything but linux boxen laying around here.

I’ve spent a fair bit of the day looking for alternatives and what’s striking to me is how little competition there is. Note to self: throw together yet another image web service over the holiday.

Given Yahoo’s track record, I’d think they’d remember that usability shouldn’t stop with the APIs. :-/

Ruben 21 Dec 05

It seems that companies that merge or do buy outs have to have both names in the forefront. I think it’s confusing and on a deeper level it shows that the merge went wrong. You mix two things together to make one new thing in the cooking realm.

Anyways, I think that the customer should be asked what name should be shown on the app.

lynda roehl 25 Feb 06

hi dad how are you ?????????? I love you plz can i camp at MARIES PLZ????????????????????

Gautamkarki 03 Mar 06

Thanks man, it good

Ajay Shrestha 19 Mar 06

please let me know how to signin for yahoo mail beta

khan 19 Apr 06

janan sharabi

khan 19 Apr 06

bawafa yaar

gul lala 19 Apr 06

olamba cha yakh shway

loisnicholas 29 Apr 06

I still want to continue with yahoo. how do I do it