Yahoo/Flickr get the bullyboy tactics out

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being told what to do. That’s why I’ve been a freelance for so long. I like making my own decisions and resent having them made for me, so it’s not surprising that I feel royally peeved with Yahoo and Flickr for sending me this email:

Dear Old Skool Account-Holding Flickr Member,

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

We’re making this change now to simplify the sign in process in advance of several large projects launching this year, but some Flickr features and tools already require Yahoo! IDs for sign in — like the mobile site at or the new Yahoo! Go program for mobiles, available at:

95% of your fellow Flickrites already use this system and their experience is just the same as yours is now, except they sign in on a different page. It’s easy to switch: it takes about a minute if you already have a Yahoo! ID and about five minutes if you don’t.

You can make the switch at any time in the next few months, from today till the 15th. (After that day, you’ll be required to merge before you continue using your account.) To switch, start at this page:

Nothing else on your account or experience of Flickr changes: you can continue to have your FlickrMail and notifications sent to any email address at any domain and your screenname will remain the same.

Complete details and answers to most common questions are available here:

Thanks for your patience and understanding – and even bigger thanks for your continued support of Flickr: if you’re reading this, you’ve been around for a while and that means a lot to us!

Warmest regards,

– The Flickreenos

This email does not fill me with the warm fuzzy glow I usually associate with Flickr. Instead, my brain reinterprets if for me thus:

Hey! Unhip square kid with no friends!

You may not have noticed, but we’ve been making it increasingly difficult for you to sign in to Flickr using your original Flickr ID by burying the sign-in page deep in the bowels of our site, where we hoped you’d never find it. It seems, however, that you haven’t taken the hint, and are still using your old ID. For shame. From March 15th you’re not going to be able to use your old ID anymore, and we’re going to force you to either sign up to Yahoo or use your Yahoo ID instead. We don’t really care if this is an inconvenience for you – you’re just going to have to lump it.

We’re making this change now because it makes life much easier for us. We also want to introduce you to a plethora of Yahoo services that you’ve never shown the least bit of interest in, and probably neither want nor need. We’ve already introduced some new features to Flickr and we made them Yahoo-only, so that we can pretend that we’re doing you a favour by forcing you to use your Yahoo login. Just to prove it, here are two things that you can’t currently do. Fool.

Anyway, you’re so old-fashioned and behind the times that you’re one of only 5% of cretins who still use the old Flickr ID, so give it up already. You’re like one of those little grannies who refuse to move out of a hideous towerblock that’s scheduled for redevelopment by nice coffee shop owners, just because it’s ‘home’ or some such nonsense. This is progress, dammit.

OK, OK, we’ll give you a couple of months to come to terms with the fact that we own your ass. But after that, you will be assimilated, like it or not. Resistance is futile.

Of course, we do appreciate that you were one of the people who coughed up cold, hard cash for a proper Flickr account back when we really needed the money, but hell, Yahoo gave us big bucks a while back, so meh. Whatever.

Warmest fuzzy wuzzies. No really, we do care. Honest. No, don’t look at us like that. Look, we’re about to turn into squirrels even cuddlier and cuter than the Trotts. Just you wait and see… Look! Look!!

– The cutesy wutesy Flickreenosywosy

You know, I like Flickr. There are some astonishingly good people working there. There are also some astonishingly good people working at Yahoo, but yet I don’t like the Yahoo brand at all. It’s unpleasant. It says ‘ignorant false-hearted redneck who always hangs on other people’s coat-tails’ to me. They are a brand that started off ‘pretty cool’ in the mid-90s, sank to ‘horrible’ in 2001 and have now rebounded to ‘icky’ (in no small part to some absolutely awful TV adverts), with a hint of ‘cool’ because of the services they’ve bought. That’s a shame, because I think that the people I know who work for Yahoo and Flickr are some of the smartest cookies out there, and all lovely to boot.

But I feel like I’m being both patronised and bullied at the same time by this email. Not once do they apologise for any inconvenience they may cause me, not a single ‘sorry’. Come on Flickr, you can do better than this. You are the Web 2.0 posterboys, your site is the one everyone talks about when they want a good example of community and social networking. Surely you are the people who understand that someone’s attachment to a site, even to a log-in, isn’t logical but emotional, and that you have to factor that in to how you deal with your community?

I didn’t join up to Yahoo Photos, I joined Flickr, and I rather resent the way I’m being told to move my log-in. You can be sure that I will be one of the bloodyminded few who will hold on to their Flickr log-in until the very last moment, just out of principle. Is there truly no behind-the-scenes solution to this? Would it not be better to use an OpenID solution, so that people have the option of using one log-in for whichever services they like? Or is this the beginning of a new mega-login trend? Are they going to start forcing people to use their Yahoo ID to log into, or Upcoming? Oh god… you’re not trying to be Google are you?

Don’t let us down here Flickr. You created something wonderful, and now you have an opportunity to do something cool about your login problem, instead of just forcing users to dance to your tune.

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