Flickr – review

What can we say about Flickr…great site, unbelievably popular, acquired by Yahoo!.  All good stuff.  But how would it measure up to what I was looking for?

The first problem was the 20MB/mo upload limit, and the fact that they would automatically resize your images and only store a limited-resolution version.  With what I wanted to do (that is, upload large original files), that would be gone in 5 photos.  So I’d have to upgrade immediately (for $24.95) to the “pro” account…the problem is, there didn’t seem to be a trial, and it explicitly says it’s non-refundable, so I couldn’t really try it out first.  Hmm.  I might have left right here, but the entire world seems to love Flickr, so I continued on.

They do have a “gallery” concept, called “photosets”.  These seem to work pretty well.  You can only have 3 in the free version, but an unlimited number in the pro version.  I can already feel my credit card sliding out of my pocket.

You can, in a way, make photos private.  The downside is, users need to have a Flickr (or yahoo) account in order to access your private photos; this is kind of a hassle.  If I take some quick pictures of something, and want to share them with a small group of people, I’d rather just send them the URL and a password, rather than make them sign up for an account.  Hmm…this is a big one for me.

It doesn’t appear you can customize the interface.  Not a show stopper here, as things are pretty clearly laid out…but if you wanted to use your site to show off a portfolio for commercial purposes, you might be out of luck.  You also have to live with a Flickr-provided URL, something like, which may or may not make you happy.  I wasn’t thrilled, because I couldn’t call someone on the phone and say “hey, check out my new photos” without reading them a long URL.

I love the community aspects of Flickr.  The community is huge – there’s no doubt you can find someone that shares common interests, or someone who shot the same event you did.  Comments are plentiful, and there are even discussion areas in the site.  And I LOVE the Organizr, with the cool expando-thumbnail thing, and the drag-drop organization.

But all in all, it wasn’t the experience I was looking for.  There are some things about Flickr I will miss (like the HUGE community of folks), and I’ll still use it for some specific purposes (for example, sharing photos at particular events), but for most of my pictures, I’ll be somewhere else.

11 thoughts on “Flickr – review

  1. siuyee

    Flickr is 100% customizable using the Flickr API. You don’t need to point your visitors to the flickr url. There are flickr-ready plugins for all the major CMS (WordPress, MT…)

  2. Don MacAskill

    smugmug’s got a great API, too. I assumed Zoto did as well, but I couldn’t find it a minute ago.

    I think the important point, though, is that the vast majority of the population doesn’t know what to do with an API, but they do know what to do with smugmug’s Themes.

    More people even know how to do basic HTML or CSS than know how to do useful things with an API, in fact.

    Full disclosure: I work at smugmug. :)

  3. speedyop

    seems that one another point you noticed is going to change : flickr propose taht you invite person with just an email and directly mark them as friend or family.

    but i’m agree that a lot of features are still missing, i can’t find how to found all those private image to change their status!

  4. Imran

    If only I was an API guru…

    I’m a SmugMug subscriber, but the one issue that keeps making me take a second look at Flickr is it’s ease of integration into WordPress and other blogging platforms.

    I wish there were more ways to show my SmugMug pics off to friends and family by integrating the pics stored there into my pages and blog posts.

    I’m hoping more developers will do that for SmugMug… or even that SmugMug will invest some time and cash into developing these tools for it’s own user base.

  5. Faye

    Flickr sucks…I reached my limit and so there was a bunch of photos that was put on “storage” aacdg to them and the only way I’ll be able to view them is when I deleted the most recent ones… But that was not the case…I deleted my recently posted photos…and was still not able to view the old ones… I was told to wait for a week for the photos to re-upload but that passed and nothing happened…So, I emailed them again and was told…all my photos are gone and the problem was blamed on me- for they said I deleted all of ’em!!! I mean, seriously?! How can I possibly delete photos that I cannot even view and thus, unable to select to be deleted!!! And why would I delete photos that I am trying to retrieve?!?!

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  7. Jimbo

    The problem I ran into with Flickr was that a couple of years into using the service (and paying for the pro account), I found out that they’re not actually a photo hosting service. Actually, they’re a wannabe social networking site.

    That’s fine, but I felt mislead. The problem is that their terms of service require you to post a “linkback” any time you embed a photo hosted by Flickr into a blog or post one into a post to a web forum. About 99% of why I wanted an image hosting service was so that I could post images to forums like those at dpreview and other photo or hobby forums.

    After years of putting photos onto Flickr, they changed their web interface. And when they did, it made it more obvious that they really didn’t want their users to be posting images into blogs or into forums. So they required that a link-back be posted with every photo. The idea being that people could click on that link and be brought to Flickr.

    This was completely unexpected by me, and I’d never done this! Yet I had thousands of photos, and thousands of posts to various forums whose links would all “die” if I deleted all of my photos from Flickr.

    I asked on their help forums if they might consider just charging a higher price per year for people who wanted to NOT put the “link-backs” with every photo they posted to a forum. The responses I got were rude and showed that they didn’t really care what the users wanted.

    They said that when they found sites or forums with flickr-hosted photos that did not have the required “link-backs”, they’d block access to flickr from the offending sites. They mentioned a few sites that they’d blocked already.

    I then brought up the fact that dpreview (the largest digital photography site and forums in the world) was riddled with hundreds of thousands (if not more) flickr-hosted images, and very few had “link-backs” mostly because almost nobody realizes that the link-backs are even required. I asked them if they were going to block dpreview. And I was ready to give them hundreds and hundreds of examples of images, currently being linked at dpreview, which did not have the required link-backs. Surely such a blatant violator as dpreview (via their millions of members) should be blocked!

    But we all know how doing that would just enrage virtually everyone who uses the dpreview forums. So the point was that flickr was willing to have a rule and then enforce it selectively. I hate that. If you’ve got a rule, then it goes for everyone. If you don’t like the fallout from that rule, it’s time to reconsider.

    But they just blew me off.

    So the only answer for me was to find a real photo hosting site. I settled on Zenfolio, and have been extremely happy. They’re extremely professional. They have no silly hidden rules. They’re NOT a wannabe social networking site.

    They’re a photo hosting site.

    Anyhow, just something to consider if you’re thinking about using flickr. They’re not really a photo hosting site. They told me that directly.


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