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Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

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Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

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Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Yahoo/Flickr get the bullyboy tactics out

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

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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9 Responses to “Yahoo/Flickr get the bullyboy tactics out”

  1. passerby Says:

    Take a look here to see your photos being used for Yahoo advertising:

  2. Adriana Says:

    Brilliantly put, thanks Suw for articulating what many of us feel.

  3. mll Says:

    On one side I can understand what you feel. I’m no big fan of yahoo either, so I didn’t like the news of the buyout; and when for some reason I had to build a new flickr account, the fact of using yahoo IDs and so on bugged me.

    Now the uproar amongs olskool members makes me smile (I put aside the limiting of contacts), for it shows a bit of selfishness: where were they when flickr forced yahoo IDs for new members ?

    And as an old newskool member, I can tell you I’m not really bothered, because no, I didn’t recieve any spam from Yahoo; and I don’t care if they might connect my flickr account with any other yahoo service, for I use none. :)
    Finally, I see no such big deal. All the 200-pound gorillas unify their sign-in process (just look at all the Google services for instance, I’m pretty sure even new Blogger accounts need to be linked to a Google account), and there’s no special cry at it. Moreover, after having in the last decade used so many internet services that came and died, I think yahoo provides a little life expectancy to flickr, which is just what I want for my precious photos: I hope flickr is still here in 50 years, or even more!

  4. Asten Says:

    Seriously… this isn’t worth the whining that it’s generating. I switched from pure flickr to yahoo flickr a long long time ago and absolutely NOTHING changed. I haven’t had to log in repeatedly, I don’t get yahoo spam, flickr doesn’t change whatsoever.

  5. Suw Says:

    Obviously, Asten, I disagree. This isn’t about a simple log-in change. If it was, I don’t think it’d be a problem. It’s about being forced to sign up to a service you neither want nor like, it’s about the way that Flickr communicate, it’s about worrying policy regarding account deletion, and a bunch of other niggling details which have more impact on those involved than it might seem from the outside. Don’t dismiss people’s concerns out of hand - just because you don’t mind doesn’t mean other people are wrong to be annoyed.

  6. smallerdemon Says:

    I’ve read several different blogs about this, and I have found this one the most amusing due to your incredibly accurate translation of the letter. :)
    I hardly ever used my Flickr account, mostly due it’s super-limited abilities as a free account.

    I had deleted any photos I had there long ago and used my account to look at only one or two professional photographers experiments they uploaded. It was fun.

    My distaste for Yahoo, though, pretty much convinced me I may as well delete my old school account there anyway since there wasn’t much point of me having it (I pay for web hosting, so I have a space to put photos). I do feel bad for folks who were able to use numerous old school accounts to maintain a variety of different levels of service for themselves now having to go through the account creation for a bunch of yahoo accounts they don’t really want. I had always viewed Flickr from a mostly simplistic single use point of view, but after reading online about how people were using their Flickr accounts and multiple logins, I started to understand that the yahoo ID switch presented them with a significantly more complicated problem than the casual user. I won’t be surprised to see them float off elsewhere for better treatment.

  7. Mike Says:

    You at least had an account.. mine has been pending for over a week now. Do they have that many new accounts to look over?

    Orlando Florida

  8. Tony Says:

    I can’t begin to express the utter contempt I have for Flickr and Yahoo at this juncture. I have never used Yahoo and have been a gmail user for a few years. I too resented the fact that in order to get a Flickr Pro account set up I would have to create the Yahoo account. I did and started uploading pictures for a few weeks. A month passed by and my busy life limited my access to Flickr. When I tried to sign in to Flickr again, they informed me that I was not able to do so because the primary email address I had listed on my Yahoo account was Gmail. I was told that before I could access my Flickr account I would have to change my forwarding primary email address to something other than gmail!
    I logged into my Yahoo account and meekly did as I was told changing my primary email to hotmail, which Flickr seemed to be OK with.
    After that, I was asked to merge my accounts in order to access my Flickr account. I don’t have two accounts that I know of! My Yahoo password did not work either. I was at a total loss and none of the help topics on Yahoo dealt with what I thought would be a simple problem.
    In any case I have not been able to access my Flickr account that I paid for six months ago and I can not for the life of me FIND any means of actually emailing Flickr or Yahoo directly to find out just what other hurdle has to be overcome. I am absolutely fried by the entire ordeal. I would like to cancel my Flickr subscription but again I can’t readily find a means of doing that either.

    Saitama Japan

  9. Julia Says:

    LOL.I hate Flickr