I’ve been a paying Pro member of Flickr for some years now, but there are quite a few things I would have on my wish list for Flickr. A few things that would improve my experience. Being able to use my own domain name for one, although I could get around that by pointing a domain to my Flickr account. I’d also like a few more options regards the Flickr layout too. I’m sure they could improve the Slideshow feature as well. In fact they could even go the whole hog and give users the choice of having their photo collection displayed in a flash based slideshow, or as is currently. It’s also be nice if they allowed a little more customisation to my page. Even if I just get to add my blog banner to make it look a little more personal, and a little more attractive. Like the photo below.
But I have one more wish which I believe is much more important to implement than all of the above put together. Over the last couple of years I’ve been subscribed to a blog by Thomas Hawk, which concentrates almost entirely on photography. I follow a lot of Flickr related stories that he posts, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t. But most are interesting enough regardless. One issue that he highlights (click here and here for a couple of examples) is the ‘nuking’ of Flickr accounts – users having their accounts deleted. All their photos, comments etc gone in a flash. They are nuked for a reason. Whether that reason is valid or not is something he questions. Pretty strongly in fact.
I’ve invested a whole lot into my Flickr account, including money. The $25 annual subscription is the least of my worries however. I have uploaded nearly six thousand photos. A fairly complete record of my travels and life since 2000. I also use those photos in my personal blog, the Mexile, and the deletion of my account would remove many of my blogs images. All of them in this particular blog. I’m also a promoter of Creative Commons photo licenses and use a very generous one with my images. As a result, hundreds of sites that use my photos would suddenly lose their story’s image.
For me, the deletion of my account would be a personal disaster. I would go instantly from being an avid fan of Flickr, promoting it to whomever listens, to a hater of Flickr, slandering it to anyone within earshot. Is it likely to happen? No, and I’m not overly paranoid normally. I do nothing with my account, that I am aware of, that is against Flickr terms. Except one minor little detail which I’m currently remedying. But the consequences of an accidental deletion to me are such, that even the remote possibility makes me a little nervous.
It doesn’t have to be like this. One of the things Thomas Hawk has for a long time been suggesting is that Flickr build into their software the ability to suspend an account, with the ability to restore it later. So that the only person who can see and access it is the owner of the account. And this is the feature I want to see in Flickr more than anything else. The assurance that, in the event of a dispute between myself and Flickr, or in the event of a mistake, my account is merely suspended. At the moment, the account deletion does not allow for it to be restored later, so once the deed is done, it’s done.
This gives me and Flickr the opportunity to resolve any issue, or rectify any error with no permanent damage done. No hard feelings on either side. And the knowledge that this procedure is in place would give me peace of mind, and dispel my nerves. I think they should go one further though, at the very least for Flickr Pro users, so that in the event that the dispute cannot be resolved to everyones satisfaction the account remains suspended for a period of time (say 28 days) to allow the user to retrieve all their photos, and possibly other data, such as comment. In fact, why don’t they build in an ‘Export’ feature? Lots of blogs do these days.
I know Thomas Hawk rather rubs up the Flickr folk the wrong way. And they don’t seem to be pying him any attention. But if anyone at Flickr is listening, or should come across this post, please consider abondoning the Nuclear Option and putting the Peace Of Mind option into play. It would make for a nicer playground, I’m sure. And I, a normal Flickr user who courts no controversy, would be all the happier for it. But don’t forget the customisation feature though…I still want that. 🙂