Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Flickr to Limit Free Accounts to 1,000 Photos

Andrew Stadlen:

Beginning January 8, 2019, Free accounts will be limited to 1,000 photos and videos. If you need unlimited storage, you’ll need to upgrade to Flickr Pro.

In 2013, Yahoo lost sight of what makes Flickr truly special and responded to a changing landscape in online photo sharing by giving every Flickr user a staggering terabyte of free storage. This, and numerous related changes to the Flickr product during that time, had strongly negative consequences.

First, and most crucially, the free terabyte largely attracted members who were drawn by the free storage, not by engagement with other lovers of photography.


Giving away vast amounts of storage creates data that can be sold to advertisers, with the inevitable result being that advertisers’ interests are prioritized over yours. Reducing the free storage offering ensures that we run Flickr on subscriptions, which guarantees that our focus is always on how to make your experience better.

Don MacAskill:

Actually, more than 97% of @Flickr Free accounts are under 1,000 photos. The changes we announced today are mostly about enhancing Flickr Pro. Less than 3% of Flickr Free accounts, who chew up a huge amount of storage & costs that others must bear, are asked to make a decision.

This makes sense except that:

A. Lee Bennett Jr.:

All the people complaining of the @Flickr changes and are leaving are probably the ones that will make Flickr a better community when they leave.

Hope y’all enjoy Google Photos’ compression and watching your original/uncompressed photos disappear.

Previously: SmugMug Acquires Flickr.

Update (2018-11-08): Don MacAskill:

The Flickr Commons photos (those uploaded by the archival, governmental, etc. institutions we are working with) are safe. We are extremely proud of these partnerships. These photos won’t be deleted as a result of any of our announced changes. The only reason they’d disappear is if the organization that uploaded them decided to delete them.

Photos that were Creative Commons licensed before our announcement are also safe. We won’t be deleting anything that was uploaded with a CC license before November 1, 2018. Even if you had more than 1,000 photos or videos with a CC license.

Update (2018-11-13): Glenn Fleishman:

Do you know someone who died and their Flickr account remains at free tier, and they have > 1,000 photos and videos? I’d suggest contacting their family, and then contacting Flickr. In an interview with SmugMug head Don MacAskill he said several people raised the notion of accounts of deceased people losing images, but on asking, he as of a few days ago hadn’t been given any actual account names.

Nick Heer:

Pretty wild that this Flickr email announcing that they’ll be deleting some of my photos in three months buries that rather critical detail in small grey text near the bottom.

Update (2019-01-14): Brian Matiash:

If you think about it, 2018 has been a very turbulent year for photographers and the social media platforms we frequent. We’ve poured one out for Google+, Facebook has had its trust shattered after a series of PR and political nightmares, 500px was sold to the “Getty of China,” and Instagram has all but nuked originality and organic growth. So, you could imagine the vacuum that is being created for photographers who are looking for a proven place to share their work in ultra-high resolution (Flickr will soon support photo resolutions up to 5,120 x 5,120) and use embedded color profiles (that’s coming soon, too), while also being a part of authentic communities.


I, for one, am very excited to see new life being breathed into Flickr and strongly believe that SmugMug is the right company to do so.

Don MacAskill:

Here’s your fun fact of the day: Every major tech company you can think of (Google, Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, …) have wanted to acquire us. I’ve never even heard the price. They haven’t answered my first Q properly: “Who are our customers and how will you care for them?”

David Heinemeier Hansson:

The best part of Flickr’s new paid model is that going pro means that your FOLLOWERS get to avoid being showered with ads. That’s probably what felt most dirty about feeding Instagram. You’re giving Facebook the bait to hook others with. Ugh.

Brian Matiash:

While you may cry and lament that the ad-free @Flickr experience requires a $50/yr Pro sub, at least you have that option. You think FB/IG would ever let you pay $50/yr to suppress those incessant ads? Absolutely not. Options are good. Consumers win w/options.

Nicole S. Young:

However, something has changed, I can feel it. It’s similar to that anticipatory sensation you get when you’re standing outside and the air shifts just before a storm. Photographers are talking about Flickr again! People are sharing photos, and replying to discussions in groups! It still has a way to go before it is really back to what it was (and hopefully even bigger and better than its glory days), but it is going to get there.


I’m hopeful that groups become a really big part of Flickr again. But right now it’s extremely challenging to find a group that is active. Many of them may have photos recently added to the group’s photo pool, but if you look at the discussion many of them have not been updated in many, many years.

Dave Winer:

I requested to download all the info Flickr has about me on Tuesday, got the data on Wednesday, and yesterday I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out what I got.

Update (2019-01-23): Chuq Von Rospach:

I’d like to see them take this a step further as part of the work to revitalize groups: remove the ability to post photos to a group anywhere but the group page itself. Right now, you can do it from an image page, and I think that encourages mindless image dumping, because you don’t actually have to interact the group to dump images on it. That just encourages spamming of images, which we want to see go away. So make people click into a group to post an image, which will both discourage wide spamming (or at least make them waste more time doing it) and get them on the group page to see the group rules and the discussion areas.

Discussion areas are still in most groups a wasteland and a ghost town, and I want to see Smugmug do some updating here to make them more interesting and relevant. They seem to be making good progress on the general forum spam problem, which is nice.

I’d also suggest they identify all of the groups where the admins are no longer active on flickr, or groups who’s admins have left flickr — and delete them. Flickr groups would be a stronger feature with 50% fewer groups seeking attention, honestly. Or maybe 90% fewer. Clear out all of the deadwood, and let the new Flickr population start building a new community there.

Anil Dash:

It’s been largely overlooked that FOMO was coined by Caterina Fake, a cofounder of Flickr — one of the very first people who ever helped create a large-scale social network for photo sharing. Her comments on FOMO came less than 6 months after Instagram launched. Though of course both services seemed superficially similar because they were social networks built around photos, Instagram’s social design was almost always with the opposite intent of Flickr’s social goals. It was almost as if Instagram was designed to optimize for FOMO.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

I’ve been a paying Flickr member since a year or two before Yahoo bought it, though in the past 3-4 years I haven’t really used it so much but kept paying anyway. Not coincidentally, I suppose... this is when most of my photography went from being almost exclusively shot with cameras to mostly being taken on an iPhone (I got rid of my ‘real’ camera a year ago when I got an iPhone 8 Plus).

I didn’t realize the price went up to $50/year. I thought it was still $35. At this point, all of my legacy photos are in iCloud and also backed up 3 other ways anyhow, so it looks like I don’t have a use for Flickr anymore...

It’s really sad to see what Flickr has (or rather, hasn’t) become. At one time it was THE place to store and share photos online. Sigh.

> Photos that were Creative Commons licensed before our announcement are also safe

Oh, that's great. I was worrying that I'd have to find a new source of images for flicross.com, because without all of these CC images, it would suddenly be much less fun.

SmugMug recently announced that free Flickr users can upload CC-licensed photos even they have over 1,000 photos, "In Memoriam" (just like FB), and THERE'S ONLY TWO DAYS TO GO BEFORE THE FLICKRPOCALYPSE (private photos will be given high priority).

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