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[dupe] Flickr free accounts will soon be limited to 1,000 photos or videos (flickr.com)
96 points by DyslexicAtheist on Nov 2, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

I wonder why they landed on the "deleting oldest content first" format. The oldest items are the ones less likely to be backed up by users.

They had lots of options, including removing original quality images and just keeping resized images, archiving the photos off-platform and charging users to restore them from the archive, or deleting the photos that had the least views.

Not sure which, if any of those, might be a better option, but the one they went with has lots of downsides too.

I agree. Back when Flickr was independent, you could upload as many images as you liked, but only the freshest 200 were visible. Your idea of offlining them and bringing images back when you become a paying customer sounds reasonable to me. I hope they heed your advice.

Would be a bit of a "hostage" situation, without really solving their storage problem. If an owner never decides to pay, for how long would they store the hidden photos?

Indeed. They're not doing this to extort money out of people, they're doing it to cut down their storage costs. Archiving doesn't make any sense at all.

Eh, bulk offline storage is so cheap it's practically free, especially when you can immediately delete all the different cached thumbnails and other intermediate sizes from your CDN. As long as it's "become a paying customer and restore your archive within 24 hours", it would work out fine.

This. Cold/Frozen storage is incredibly cheap if properly setup.

It seems that way, but to me it would be better than the hard approach of iretrievably deleting your stuff. It’s not hostage in any case, they’re not threatening deletion, it’s more like DoS. I prefer that so that if i want to, I can pay, but if I don’t i still have an archive of my items to download for myself—it’s just others won’t see your items.

I believe this may run afoul of some data retention regulations. E.g. GDPR requires a minimum of data to be retained: https://www.dpnetwork.org.uk/gdpr-data-retention-guide/

I'm not sure why the downvotes. A lot of photos on Flickr have GPS information encoded. (And of course the photos themselves can often be connected to individuals through either their metadata or facial recognition.) Photos can absolutely be personal information.

It doesn't. GDPR applies to personal data, which photos are not (most of the time).

As long as you have an active user account on Flickr the contract / terms of use apply with regard to retention of photos, which Flickr can probably change as per their previous ToS that you accepted when signing up.

And users have the right to request their data at any time and also request it be purged. These two premises add lots of process overhead to an otherwise innocent looking law from the outside.

People might remember Flickr for its communities, but I remember it for being a great archive of public photos.

I have over 22,000 photos in my account — all of them privately shared with my family.

I'm a Pro user, however I only became a Pro thinking that if I stop paying, then the photos I uploaded will be safe from deletion. And I renewed my subscription right after SmugMug announced the acquisition, along with saying that they "don't have any plans to change free accounts". I guess that wasn't a reasonable expectation.

Unfortunately I might have to move off Flickr because it's not a safe storage for my photos. I guess that's the point of their upgrade, heh? They don't want archives, they want communities.

Except that for actually sharing photos with people, Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos are wildly more popular. Which makes Flickr just a forum with a slow interface.


I do understand the business reasons. If it keeps the lights on, then I guess it's better than the alternative.

But I'm also afraid that this will kill Flickr for good.

If you continue with your Pro-Account you still get unlimited photo uploads and nothing is changing for you as long as you continue to be a pro-subscriber. I liked the way it was before. You keep all your latest 200 photos but the rest are in archive unless you pay for a pro-account.

Personally I moved to Google Photos for all my photos backup and sharing. I have a personal server that has a backup of all my raw and high quality photos to keep.

As I mentioned in another comment thread (is that the term used here?) about this (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18354066), I can understand why they want to limit the free service, the only thing that makes me a bit concerned is the fact that they want to delete images over the limit, rather than not allowing new uploads or freezing accounts for existing accounts which will go over the new limit. I just get worried when stuff on the public Internet is deleted in cases like these.

The uploader then doesn’t worry, Flickr doesn’t worry. The internet archive might, just like you. Maybe you can help out over there?

The uploader can't do anything short of paying money to keep the images up. They could move them, but that is still link rot.

I would help with archiving stuff, but I don't have the resources unfortunately. All I can do is not delete my downloads folder, so incase the a site goes down, I still have a copy of the stuff I downloaded earlier, which is better than nothing, I hope.

This is a step in the right direction. The thing that made Flickr good was the community feeling, interactions with other photographers and groups.

The unlimited photos option made people use it like a backup/archival service. People would upload all their images without naming, tagging or organising them and the average quality of shot reduced. I'd like it to move back towards a quality over quantity mentality.

Hopefully the animated gif group invitation comments will be disabled at some point too.

It's a bad direction for average users (not average professional photographer but average users).

Their mobile app has a sync process and touts it as a way to backup your photos. Synced photos are automatically marked as private and has NO impact on your desire of quality over quantity.

Flickr has offered free 1TB for a long time. Archival of mobile photos is the intended feature and you are shaming users for using it?

If they want to wall off average Joe from the pros, fine. It's their right. But they should not delete old photos. Storage is cheap. There's going to be lots of unhappy people when they log in a few years from now to find photos of some deceased family and realize SmugMug deleted them.

When SmugMug acquired Flickr my only comment on the article was in regards to the free 1TB (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16888876) as I was afraid it works be on the chopping block. But I never imagined they would be as 'smug' as to delete old photos.

I will likely download the photos and stick them in Amazon Glacier or something. As far as the rest of the users who are not tech savvy, best of luck to them.

> Storage is cheap

It’s cheaper than it used to be, but it’s not so cheap that you can give away a free terabyte of it to millions of users. The announcement explicitly calls out that storage is a huge cost for them.

Yet they give free storage to Flickr Commons institutions ( British Library etc ) who have literally hundreds of millions of images. They have been exempted from this new policy.

This is just a shakedown against the little people using photos that they uploaded in compliance with ToS as blackmail. It's not just the damage it will do to the Internet that is the problem, it is the ethical question. Do you still trust Flickr as a custodian? What happens if you let your Pro account lapse?

Imagine if GMail announced that they were restricting accounts to 1000 emails and deleting the rest. Would anyone trust them after that?

I'm well under the new limit but will be migrating to another service, and will be paying for it.

I'm not attempting to shame users for doing it, Flickr's offer was too good to be true. Unfortunately I think that it harmed the the quality in the long run. I don't mind people using it as an archive, so long as that's not all they're using it for.

It should be a photo community, sharing and discussion platform first and foremost.

You can't ignore the fact that Flickr's traffic, especially in the age of Instagram, has taken a massive dip. I'd love to point people towards my rather humble Flickr profile instead of my Instagram one, but most people under twenty five or thirty probably don't even know what Flickr is.

I've stayed a Pro user even though there probably wasn't a lot of reason for me to do. (It's not like we're talking a lot of money.) But it's almost like Yahoo made Flickr free for most on the theory that, if you make it free, they will come. They ended up diluting Flickr for its core user base at the same time that they largely stopped enhancing the site.

I'm honestly not sure how big a market there is for a prosumer community-oriented photography site. The fact that another one hasn't really popped up is suggestive. But the ship has also sailed on competing with Facebook and Instagram on their own terms. So refocusing on their original audience probably makes sense.

I strongly suspect that there is no formula for a single service that balances the needs of:

1.) Pros/semi-pros looking to sell images

2.) Prosumers seeking to display their work and interact with a community

3.) Average people wanting to share snapshots with family, friends, and others

4.) People looking for free/cheap backup

ADDED: 5.) A free service that will maintain a massive commons of photos regardless of license "forever."

Flickr started out mostly about #2 but mutated into some of the other areas when the price barrier was removed.

> People would upload all their images without naming, tagging or organising them and the average quality of shot reduced

I have a Flickr Pro account and upload my photos set to private. If I find a good shot I set that to public or friends/family depending on the audience. I'm very aware that few people bother doing this, because -- I think -- the way most people take photos has changed. Most people now take way more photos than they used to thanks to mobile cameras, and curating all of it isn't viable. Most of my Flickr photos are private as a result -- because I've not had a chance to go through many of them.

Both Google Photos and iCloud Photos get this, and they try to solve it in slightly different ways -- but fundamentally both use an approach of "just take the photos and let us back it up and worry about surfacing the interesting photos".

I'm not sure Flickr today has the resources to do this. I still enjoy Flickr and its community and even have several hundred public photos of varying quality, but I mainly use it as a private/shared photo album. I like paying for a web-friendly service (which iCloud Photos isn't) that doesn't mess with my photos.

Oh man, animated gifs are terrible in any comment section. User reviews in Goodreads are unreadable half the time because of this.

This is an interesting tangent imo, I’ve also noticed on goodreads a correlation between the quality of the review and usage gifs/memes. Almost always, thoughtful independent reviews are devoid of them, whereas the “my reading group picked this book I couldn’t finish it” reviews are full of them. Anecdotally what I’ve noticed, ymmv etc...

This is a nightmare for our digital history. Millions of valuable photos could disappear for good from the public Internet because of corporate greed. It seems very irresponsible of Flickr not to grandfather older accounts to avoid mass destruction of history.

They are working with Creative Commons to preserve freely licensed photos: https://creativecommons.org/2018/11/01/flickr-2/

Frankly, seems fair to me. The company certainly benefited (marketing wise) by offering these larger accounts, so they definitively have some responsibility. But I also don't think that should condemn them to indefinite hosting of all photos and videos ever uploaded, should it?

Yes, the company should have to stand behind its promises. The company benefited from them, after all. One day they promise a terabyte of free storage, and the next they say they'll all your photos in three months. That's quite a slap in the face. (Asking for "indefinite" storage is also a big jump from three months.)

The blog post in which they announced the new policy was similarly two-faced. (Yes, Facebook and Instagram beat Flickr. No, this obviously wasn't because Flickr was too inexpensive.) And as a photographer, there's just no way I will ever trust a company that so blithely deletes huge swathes of photos. No photography company would do that.

I agree they have to stand by their promise, I'm just asking what their promise was. If the matter is the length, then that becomes quite subjective, no? I mean, should it be three years? Three decades? How do you arrive at a number that is "correct" and not just whatever one feels is right?

I don't know, does three months feel right to you? To me, until they go out of business feels right.

My expectations aren't unreasonable. I only have 2 or 3 gigabytes of photos there. Up to two days ago, they were advertising a terabyte of free storage.

Whats the time until the heat death of the universe? That's what they committed to (or more if se manage to extend that)

> corporate greed

Is this greed? Data storage, backups, etc, all cost money. They don't have to allow free accounts at all. That's not greed, it's good business. Do you give away space in your refrigerator to everyone around the world?

If I once promised to keep your food in my fridge, I'll keep it there. If it's running out of space I will limit your new food.

I won't throw your food away that I once promised to keep!

If I sell the fridge to a new owner, of course they can do whatever they want. Throwing away old food that was promised to be kept is the corporate greed part.

> If I sell the fridge to a new owner, of course they can do whatever they want.

This fridge has been sold, and the new owners are doing whatever they want.

(Flickr has been sold from Yahoo to Smugmug.)

What if you haven't seen or had any contact from 90% of the owners of said food since it was placed there?

That's a different scenario. Then they can throw away food for owners that don't use the fridge. But they are throwing away food of active owners.

I wouldn't promise.

This is actually a good example to argue for Flickr. No one would 1) pay to store a fridge, 2) pay for the electricity and 3) protect the contents indefinitely for strangers. It is perfectly reasonable to throw out food after a long span of time.

Actually, we have abandoned property laws.

It's still a dishonest move to first promise something for free and then taking it away when you don't make profit from it. Especially when that could break lots of links on the internet.

I remember when imageshack pulled off the same thing. Instantly half of the images in forums and such were gone forever. Sometimes I still stumble upon old turials with dead pictures. :(

Flickr is under new ownership -- it was under Yahoo that Flickr made the 1TB promise. It's too bad Smugmug can't go along with it, but if it were a viable offering (i.e. Flickr was profitable), Yahoo might not have had to sell off Flickr in the first place.

This is a street view of SmugMug's office: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.3907386,-122.0674312,3a,75y,...

Maybe you can make a case for "small business" greed, but "corporate" just seems like the wrong buzzword.

How dare a for-profit business focus on making money!

Yes, how dare we care about other things?

I pruned from 1400 pics to 700 within an hour. That was remarkably painless. Quality improved also. Flickr is once again useless for photo storage. It is now only good for advertising Google Photo Albums.

I did not believe the 1 Terabyte promise to begin with. I dumped my 300 thousand pics into Google Photos instead. Google seems to have more processing power too, as everyday I get suggestions for Google-generated panoramas and videos and other shit.

You pay monthly for google photo storage then i take it or did they change their retention policies significantly?

What? Google Photos has two storage settings: "High quality" and "Original quality". High quality includes unlimited photo and video storage for photos up to 16 megapixels and videos up to 1080p resolution.

The "High quality" is free and I am totally happy with it. Never even seen a 16 megapixel camera and most of my videos are of VHS-quality.

Yesterday’s thread didn’t seem to read far enough down the post to note that 97% of free accounts are not past the limit and thus would not have photos deleted, also suggesting essentially all try-before-buy users will not feel constrained.

What if 90% of the links shared on the internet are from those 3%? It would be a huge link-rot. I really hope the internet archive has the most linked ones.

I'm still a little conflicted over link rot. On the one hand it seems fun and cool and even amazing to be able to dive back into so much history 'live' as it was/has always been.

It's maybe even culturally important to try and maintain it.

But then some is just a bit crap, a bit like there used to be a bit of a crap building and then a new one got built that was better and did better things for more people more cheaply and environmentally friendly than before. Why save the old building? Just 'because'? Hmm, not sure about that.

So is it really worth saving everything? Is it actually irresponsible to save everything, given the power costs (something has to physically hold the data and be powered)?

I'm not really sure but it seems certain it's not an obvious black and white, good/bad, one way or the other type matter.

I hate to see 80% of my old photos going back to 2005 disappear from their original URLs... but I don't hate it enough to pay $50/yr forever. If I could pay them $100 today to freeze my account forever and never have to think about Flickr ever again, that would be great.

Unfortunately, "forever" is a really long time to keep the disks full of content spinning, drawing power and requiring replacements.

TBH, expecting Smugmug--which for all the photos it hosts is a small business--to be the stewards of this commons "forever" is just kicking the can down the road. They could grandfather everything and just restrict future uploads (and maybe they should have depending on the financials) and the day would have come when a change of ownership or financial distress would have brought the whole issue up again.

I'm a heavy Flickr user, with 14 years and ~200GB of data on the service right now. My usage pattern is mostly that of "convenient backup of every photo"; my phone auto-uploads to Flickr and I meticulously upload everything worth keeping from my DSLR, too.

I was once a Pro user, but after they announced 1TB for free users, I let my Pro status lapse. I'm not a pro photographer and care mostly about backing up my photos, making them convenient for me to access, and sharing them privately with friends and family. The 1TB limit gave me plenty of room for that.

At $50 a year, if you take a lot of photos, Pro seems like a no-brainer. Even the cheaper cloud storage options, like Backblaze, would charge me ~$50 a year to store my 200GB (and growing) photo library. (I'm intentionally discounting options like Glacier that don't allow me to browse full resolution photos at any time.) You also get a mobile app that makes browsing and sharing your photos easy, and tools like "Guest Pass" for making private photo links that don't require Flickr logins.

All that said, there's a large part of me that wants to get off the Flickr treadmill (every two or three years they get bought and/or change prices and limitations) and just self-host. It seems like it'd be relatively easy to make a static site generator that could be pointed at a huge pile of original photos and metadata to produce a nice-looking responsive website of galleries, but I've never seen one that didn't look like a toy. Does anyone use something like this?

I haven't used any of these yet to say if they meet your criteria or if they are worth using, but here are a handful of potential options that I snagged from my bookmark list.

- https://photoprism.org/

- http://koken.me/

- https://lychee.electerious.com/

- https://github.com/thumbsup/thumbsup (believe this one is actually a static site generator)

- https://chevereto.com/

- https://piwigo.org/

Of course I can't say there are NONE, but seriously, it's a really lacking area. I've been on and off building one for a while but never seem to find a willing designer partner (since I can't create pretty stuff, just build it).

Good luck finding one though, I hope I'll be able to help you soon.

Free members with more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded to Flickr have until Tuesday, January 8, 2019, to upgrade to Pro or download content over the limit. After January 8, 2019, members over the limit will no longer be able to upload new photos to Flickr. After > February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content actively deleted -- starting from oldest to newest date uploaded -- to meet the new limit.

Not surprising. Every notable "free" image upload site has either folded, or introduced some behavior to hinder using it as free image hosting. There's just no business model there.

Some sort of browser support for an image format that allows for one, small, clickable, link in a fixed position could make it viable. I suppose, though, it would just get hijacked by spammers and become useless.

Focus on the pro market might be what is required to bring the service in discussion. Community of pro-photographers that uses the service to showcase their portfolio might be what they are going after. If 97% of free accounts have less than 1000 photos as they claim [1], it might be a good cutoff to set.

Just wonder on two fronts, will they continue to sell ads? And will it continue to remain a Yahoo property (given they would not need a Yahoo id to login).

[1]: https://blog.flickr.net/en/2018/11/01/changing-flickr-free-a...

> will it continue to remain a Yahoo property

No, and it isn't now. Flickr was recently acquired by SmugMug - a paid-for gallery hosting site [0]. It's SmugMug that is driving this change, not Oath / Yahoo.

[0] https://www.smugmug.com/

Ah. I had completely forgotten that Flickr was acquired by SmugMug and had been their property - makes much more sense. Of course, I doubt if Yahoo can run anything any longer.

That brand has faced such a horrible downfall - it was a shining example of the power of Web.

You mean if Verizon can run anything any longer. Verizon would probably nuke Flickr if they still had it.

I use their mobile app which had a sync process to automatically upload photos. I've used this feature for years and I'm sure I have more than 1000 photos. The sync stashes mobile photos in a separate non-public album. I'm disappointed that they will start deleting old photos. I can't imagine only 3% of their free user base uses their mobile app.

I think may be only 3% people used the sync process? I did use the app but had turned off the auto-sync of photos. I think may be they want to curtail this exact use-case of their service -- as a photo archive.

Jim Weirich has 1,322 photos in his Flickr account.

For those that don't know, Jim Weirich was a well known software engineer in the Ruby community. He passed away in 2014.

(Hopefully this will prevent the downvotes)

Discussion thread from 2014 fwiw: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7270891

I posted this news on a general chat forum on the PurplePort portfolio hosting site (aimed primarily at photographers and models, usually NSFW). PurplePort users include a large community of active photographers, and I thought the discussion might be enlightening. So, in a totally unscientific study, their responses mainly fall into the following categories:

- I’d better upgrade my Flickr membership to keep my pictures

- I already deleted my account because Flickr doesn’t materially benefit my photography (e.g. in getting work)

- So it is worth being a Pro member after all

- I haven’t used my Flickr account for ages because Yahoo locked it

Compared with the discussion here, no-one got heated about the link rot issue.

My dad died a few years ago, he was a keen flickr user and member of many groups, so we kept his account alive. Fortunately, it looks like he just over the 1000 limit, so we just have to prune 100 or so photos.

What is problematic for me with the new flickr proposal is this:

- 4500 photos

- 2.1 % of the 1 Tb storage used.

So basically, I have to remove 3500 photos while I don't consume that much size. Or go the paid way...

"Second, you can tell a lot about a product by how it makes money. Giving away vast amounts of storage creates data that can be sold to advertisers, with the inevitable result being that advertisers’ interests are prioritized over yours. ...."

So I fork out $50/yr and Flickr will stop flogging my data to advertisers or, will grow a very specific group of users, whos data is more valuable to advertisers than the general free membership .... and Flickr will then flog that to advertisers at a premium?

I would have preferred to see improvements to Flickr before a push to subscriptions. My guess is that for the money I can find much better established services, tho in fairness I have not looked, so may be wrong on that. I guess I am about to find out.

They chose this model because it is what they were already doing as smugmug (who just bought twitter). Any reasoning is just rationalization.

Smugmug bought Flickr, not Twitter.

Oops. Yeah, obviously that's what I meant. I was working on twitter scraping perl scripts at the time.

If it's a business model that worked for them with SmugMug then why not? Flickr has been decaying for years, it's about time someone turned it into a viable business again.

I think that Smugmug needs to explain the differentiation between Smugmug versus Flickr, because it seems like this first step of reducing free users is going to make Flickr just a less customizable version of Smugmug.

> I think that Smugmug needs to explain the differentiation between Smugmug versus Flickr

Perhaps. Personally I'm not sure they do need to particularly do that though. Smugmug is a place to backup and showcase your photos as an individual. It's a portfolio service. There's not much community there really.

Flickr was a community for high quality photography. They talk at great length in the post about how it lost it's way and want to get back to the community and quality aspect.

If anything I'd say they're talking about the right stuff - how they're going to make Flickr great again.

The reason Flickr has had a big community of photographers is because it was free and virtually unlimited, so people could back up entire albums and then share them. That's one big reason.

Flickr is a giant database of photos that will now disappear from the web. In terms of the actual community, the groups themselves have always been full of spam and the discussions pretty dumb to be honest, what has always been great being the photos themselves.

Not really sure I agree with any of that. Flickr was one of the first movers, so it got a lot of traction and community because of the time and place it was created in. Not just because it was free.

Flickr to me was best when there were pretty tight upload limits, so the early days were by no means 'unlimited'. And I think there were limits even then to how many photos you could see as a free account. That goes back a long way now but I was around back then and the groups were pretty vibrant and people actually discussed things.

If anything, the groups went to shit as more and more uninvested people piled in dumping more and more photos just to chase likes - mostly thanks to limits being relaxed.

I think it got even worse with the redesign and the 1TB limit. Especially as the new Pro accounts were limited too! That was nuts. At least that's what I remember and why I left. Seems now unlimited is actually unlimited again.

Thankfully Instagram can now fulfil that need and hopefully putting up a barrier to entry will cut out the hoards who aren't interested in the community.

Before the 1 TB, I remember the upload limits to be 300 MB. Given the image sizes back then, it would have taken you 3 months to reach the current limits.

Also the yearly subscription for removing the limits was dirt cheap, I remember it being something like $20 per year.

My impression was always that Smugmug targeted pros and semi-pros who wanted to display their photos while protecting them and have a way to sell them. Flickr was more of a prosumer community site. Those are not distinct categories of course but there is a difference between them.

Two arbitrary ideas imho:

1. I understand the two month heads up was likely made by business concerns, but if I was to sunset this I'd give a year's warning.

2. Don't apply this rule to accounts that have been dormant for a long time. I can imagine photo collections on some old Blogspot account by some departed blogger from the mid-'00s. If inactive accounts with >1000 photos don't comprise a significant cost, why not keep those accounts? The owners of those photos might not be in a state to upgrade to Pro anyway.

This sounds like a job for The Internet Archive[1]

[1] https://archive.org/

I want to be opposed to this but it does seem to make sense. Photos are large, storage costs money. I will say deleting user content is pretty intense. What about people who are dead? Seems odd their photos will be deleted.

For the savers - You can use this code FLICKRPRO30 to reduce the price from $49.99 to $34.99

Is this something the Archive.org team would be interested in preserving?

The ArchiveTeam already has a tool to archive Flickr photos; if you have some bandwidth and storage you can help: https://github.com/ArchiveTeam/flickr-grab

Did anyone even come close to using their full terabyte?

I'm sure some did but 1TB is almost unlimited unless you're uploading automatically-taken images or something like that. I've been using Flickr for years and have uploaded almost 6,000 images (a small portion of my snaps but still a lot) and I'm only using about 31GB.

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