Flickr faithful foam over faulty feature

It’s been like watching a pot bubble over on the stove today, watching the pissed-off Flickr fans — including prominent blogger and Zooomr CEO Thomas Hawk — venting about having to switch to a Yahoo login. A simple enough thing, right? Stop using the Flickr login and start using a Yahoo one. I did it months ago, and it really wasn’t a big deal. I had a Yahoo login from way back when I used to use My Yahoo as a home page, and so it was a slam-dunk.

Many of the people on the forums at Flickr have said the same thing — big deal, get over it you big babies, Flickr is owned by Yahoo now, they’ve been saying for months that this would happen, etc., etc. And all of that is true. But it also doesn’t help the die-hard Flickr fans from the “Old Skool” who have been there since it was a startup (started in Vancouver, incidentally) and feel like they are getting the short end of the stick from big, bad Yahoo.

flickr protest.jpg

This has obviously created an opportunity for some other photo sites, one of which is offering Flickr “refugees” a discount to move their accounts over, but more than anything the 10 pages of comments on the Flickr forum about the move is a sign of how big a mountain users can make out of what Yahoo and Flickr no doubt see as a programming molehill. To them, no doubt, it is a simple data management shift, but to users, it is an emotional train-wreck.

My friend Scott Karp has a very insightful post on the whole mess. As he puts it, if you live by the community, you will die by the community. If your service relies on the “user-generated content” of millions of people, then every move you make will be watched by some sizeable proportion of those users, and the success or failure of those moves — and, theoretically, of your entire company — is dependent on how you handle them. Fair warning.

P.S. At this point, nothing whatsoever about the 10 pages or the blog uproar on the Flickr blog. And there’s some back-and-forth between Anil Dash of SixApart and Thomas Hawk over the Flickr changes on Anil’s blog. Factory Joe (Chris Messina) has some thoughts as well, including the fact that he thinks this shows the need for an OpenID standard, and Tara says community isn’t just a big love-in all the time, and that’s just the way it is.

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