On Tuesday, Mat Honan’s Gizmodo exclusive, How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet, captivated the social Web. Honan’s article about the image-sharing network's demise quickly became a must-share with more than 4,400 retweets on Twitter.
The long read follows Flickr from its booming growth in 2004, to its acquisition by Yahoo in 2005, and finally, to its status as a social-media ghost town in 2012. Honan entirely blames Yahoo for dropping the ball on Flickr, ignoring it into technological obsoleteness.
The Flickr community, however, thinks rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Users discussed the merits of the story on the Flickr forums.
The article was first brought up in the Help forums, where a moderator promptly closed the off-topic thread, but not before adding his two cents as a Flickr employee.
“Flickr is has not been killed but that is a cute catchy title,” staff member Zack Sheppard wrote.
In the more general forum, FlickrCentral, users charted the events that led to present-day Flickr.
User teh resa linked to a forum thread discussing the acquisition in March 2005, in which Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake assured users that, though she was “skeptical” of the company at first, she realized Yahoo was “evolving” and that the staff there was “OUR people.”
“Yahoo won't be the Yahoo you've come to take for granted,” Fake wrote. “Competition (with that other company with two O's in its name) has done great things for Yahoo.”
Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
While some users wondered what Flickr would have been like without the Yahoo purchase, others said that it was unavoidable.
“An ex-staff member... reckoned Flickr would not have survived without a serious injection of cash to fund the hardware necessary to scale out and keep pace with the increased usage of the site,” Patrick Costello wrote.
There was a silver lining to the threads. hellgah! observed that discussions like the one these users were participating in were proof of the social power Flickr still has:
“I love flickr and it's sad that it's not as full of life as it used to be, but it's still the best for sharing photos (way better than FB) and [I] still get a kick out of reading threads, especially in this group."
Users conceded that Flickr isn’t the way it once was, but don’t expect any of these hardcore forum participants to leave anytime soon. Flickr may not be the “Swiss Army Knife” of websites, but its users appreciate the few things it does well.
“[W]hen I look through someone's photostream, which I sometimes spend hours going through entirely because I'm so enthralled and captured by it, I feel like they've shared part of their life with me,” shhflights wrote. “Looking through someone's photostream sometimes takes me away to another place and into another life that I feel like I lived a part of through them, while I'm still sitting here at my computer. That's pretty cool.”
Photo by Alexander Kaiser