Flickr Account Merge Drives Users Mad

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Although it has been long expected that Flickr users would need to switch permanently to a Yahoo ID to use the service, the fast-approaching deadline has Flickrphiles furious and competitors gleefully offering enticements for them to switch.

Beware the Ides of March, Flickr users. The old Flickr sign in system will be sent off to the Great 404 in the Sky; to keep using Flickr means switching over to a Yahoo Account, and giving up the personal information required for that.

Commentary on Flickr’s “old skool” forum has been less than enthusiastic about the long-anticipated changeover. Here’s a sample of those feelings:

My gender? what business in hell is it of yahoo’s whether I’m male, female or something else entirely?! not that I’m offered that last option in the form

Yuck. I hate my yahoo signin name. I really hate the inelegant design of the Yahoo sign-in page. And I hate having to keep another login name in my head.

I didn’t like it that yahoo bought flickr but I was fine with it as long as they didn’t mess with it. Well, now they have.

More prominent users have noted how the other announcement by Flickr, a limitation on the number of contacts, impacted the real active Flickr users. Thomas Hawk (CEO of Flickr competitor Zoomr) blogged about the roadblock he hit when trying to add a contact today:

I just tried to add The Searcher as a contact on Flickr. I’ve been impressed with some of his insights in forums in the past and got the following message from Flickr:

“Add The Searcher as a contact?

Slow down there buddy…

You have reached the limit for the number of contacts a user can have. To add another contact, you must first get your total number of contacts under 3,000. Right now you have 5,082 contacts.”

Limiting your most active users from further social networking on a social networking site is the most idiotic thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Flickr needs to reverse the asinine decisions made today to force people to merge their accounts with Yahoo and to place new limits on your contacts and tags.

Another Flickr competitor, SmugMug, moved to capitalize on the unpopularity of the move. SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill promptly made an offer to those users to make the switch:

You asked for it, you got it: SmugMug is offering 50% off to all Flickr refugees. Just sign up for our free trial using the coupon code flickr and if you like what you see, you’ll get 50% off your first year.

I’m afraid this is the dark side of acquisition, especially by a company that doesn’t seem to resonate with Flickr’s core passionate users. Every time someone inquires about acquiring SmugMug, we shut them down immediately because we’re terrified of exactly this happening – our user experience being damaged by a parent corporation that doesn’t “get” our customers.

Walt Mossberg thinks SmugMug is elegant. Maybe over the next few weeks MacAskill and company will be “really busy with new users” as well.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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