Virtual Riots Rock Flickr – Will Zoomr Take Over?

Flickr (who are now owned by Yahoo) just made a huge mistake. Yesterday they announced a number of changes to the Flickr service, which have received an overwhelmingly negative response from their community. Among the changes:

  • You will now be required to have a Yahoo ID to log on. Users will now be forced to have a Yahoo account.
  • The number of contacts a user can have is now limited to 3,000. There are no grandfather clause exceptions – if you have 5,000 contacts, you have to delete 2,001 to be able to add one more.
  • Each photo is limited to 75 tags. Personally I don’t think this one is a big deal.

The Flickr community has just about rioted over this – you can read the reactions on their forum page. I know Yahoo has been having branding problems, but this really sheds light on how badly tainted their brand has become. They also just launched Brand Universe site, which seems like an attempt to remix a lot of their user-contributed content into vertical niches (to try to make even more money) – seems like a half-hearted attempt though.

The best alternative to Flickr right now seems to be Zooomr. I haven’t tried Zoomr yet personally, but I’m guessing they’ll get a good percentage of Flickr deserters if this misstep by Yahoo does indeed result in mass exodus from their service. This reminds me of the time Facebook intruduced their “stalker feed” – there was a lot of noise, but most users still stuck around. Flickr users are definately passionate, so it remains to be seen if their actions will actually reflect their complaints.

One take-away: The more passionate your users are, the lighter you have to tread when making changes.