Flickr signup: From human to droid in a Yahoo moment? 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:
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.
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!