I went to Twitter to see if anyone was posting anything about the new Flickr. My fear was that they had been bleeding users so fast for so long that my searches would result in nothing but crickets chirping.
I should have known better.
People are furious. I’ve seen tweets bitching about everything under the sun. People are complaining because of the banner. Some say it’s too big. Some say it’s too narrow to be effective. Some say it’s wasted space even though all it is is a background photo for the menus. I’ve seen people complaining that there are menus. I’ve seen people complain that the menus are black. I’ve seen people complain that their ad free account has empty space where the ads are supposed to go. My favorite complaints deal with people who say that they have to scroll to see comments, or groups, or descriptions. Folks, Flickr is a PHOTO site. The changes have put the emphasis on the PHOTO. As if that were sacrilegious! Yes, the photo now takes up the whole top of the page and you have to scroll or (heaven forbid) hit the Page Down button once in order to see the list of sets and groups and all of the comments. Do people honestly believe that the comments made about the image are more important than the image itself? What is wrong with this world that people think this way?
I saw one tweet that Flickr looks too much like other sites now and is no longer original. Original? Flickr hasn’t changed in something like eight years! The used to look exactly like every other site on the web, but every other site developed and changed and left Flickr behind. Flickr wasn’t original two days ago, it was an ancient relic of the days when bandwidth was so low that you couldn’t load a high res image. Flickr was a collection of small images, thumbnails, and empty white space. That’s what people prefer? Are you serious? It wasn’t clean or minimal, it looked like hacked together crap. And this is someone who has always loved Flickr talking!
They got rid of the thumbnails and empty space and put all of the focus on the photographs. Two days ago, Flickr was Friendster. Today, Flickr is a photography site that cannot be ignored. I said yesterday that what Flickr really needed was a 100 million users or so. The terabyte of storage for free should pull in a lot of new people. The new layout will entice them to hang around after they’ve uploaded their own stuff.
Now there is one complaint that is valid. It has nothing to do with the site itself, but with something Marissa Mayer said during the presentation. I haven’t listened to it, but apparently she made a statement along the lines of there is no such thing as a professional photographer anymore.
If that’s true then it’s a pretty stupid thing to say. Yes the technology has closed the gap between amateur and professional, but the gap is still very much there. It doesn’t take an art scholar to be able to tell the difference. Professionals are set apart not by their equipment but by their skills and experience and knowledge and training. Hell, go to an iPhone group on Flickr and scroll through the photos. Even with a camera phone the difference between a hobbyist photographer and a serious photographer is obvious. If Marissa Mayer said what everyone is saying she said, then she needs to apologize.
Other than that…
The Flickr changes are outstanding, regardless of what people bitching on Twitter have to say about it.