Last but not least for this evening… I was walking down the aisle at my local Kroger this past weekend, when this unexpected display grabbed my attention! I had heard that the TRU intellectual property owners had signed a deal with a “prominent midwest retailer” to feature these “Geoffrey’s Toy Box” displays in their stores this holiday season, but I wasn’t expecting that retailer to be Kroger. (Not least because I don’t really consider Kroger to be a midwestern retailer, but hey.) The full list of Kroger stores featuring these displays can be found at this link; in the Delta Division, it appears that it can be found in the stores in Hernando (pictured), Southaven (Goodman/Getwell), and Jackson (I-55) in Mississippi; Collierville (New Byhalia), Jackson (University), Bartlett (Stage), Cordova (Trinity Commons), Germantown (Farmington), and Lakeland in Tennessee; and a handful of stores in Arkansas as well, none of which are in the Memphis metropolitan area however (mostly the Little Rock area, it appears).
Now… while we’re on the topic of “finding new homes” (as my photo title notes)… am I supposed to talk about the impending flickr changes? I feel like surely, if you use the site, you’ve heard about them by now (and if you’re a nonmember, you can read about them at this link). I guess some of you are probably interested to hear about my future plans, so I might as well discuss the whole thing. Personally, I am planning on staying here on flickr.
But many of you aren’t.
Thinking about this the past several days, I’ve been trying to figure out what I feel is the worst part of this deal. There are certainly few, if any, upsides to it; much of the effects are negative. Ultimately, I’m having trouble focusing on just one part that is worse than the rest, so I might as well just bring up each element in turn.
First: the photo limit. Let me start off by addressing the counterargument here: I actually agree with the site’s new owners that the previously-offered 1TB of free storage was insane, and not economically feasible to continue providing. I get that, and I have no problem with limiting the amount that free users may contribute to the site as a result. Where I take issue is with the fact that the limit is 1,000 photos.
Let me be clear: I think 1,000 photos, in and of itself, is not a bad limit. Could it be higher? Sure. But Don MacAskill seems to have done his research, talked to flickr users, and decided that 1,000 is justifiable, so I’m not going to question that. (Let me also be clear on this: Don MacAskill is not my enemy. Some others I’ve seen appear to be adopting that stance, but I don’t blame him. Broadly speaking, my feeling is more of an “I’m not angry, just disappointed” stance. But more on that later.)
Another factor I don’t mind – in fact, which I very much like – is stating the limit in terms of number of photos, and not storage capacity. As MacAskill noted, it is much easier for us to understand the meaning of 1,000 photos than it is 50GB. No, my issue with the photo limit arises from the fact that this limit will be applying to everyone. I’m completely okay with limiting new users, who sign up after the changes take effect, to 1,000 photos. But forcing that limit on ALL free users – including those of us who are above that limit, such as myself – is unfair, in my opinion.
This bleeds right into my next issue: for those free users who have over 1,000 existing photos on their accounts, the site will soon automatically delete photos from said users’ photostreams until they meet the 1,000 photo limit. The new management team obviously recognizes the importance of photographs, so it seems at odds with that recognition for them to, in the same breath, devise a plan to erase thousands of photos from the site forever. In my simplemindedness, I’ve been concerned about this forced deletion causing lost comments and broken links. The broader-minded internet backlash has brought about additional concerns I hadn’t considered, such as the effect of the deletion on accounts that haven’t been updated in years (that is to say, you can “save” your own photos from deletion by downloading them back to your computer, but who is there to complete that task for an account that is inactive?).
An effective compromise, to my mind, would be to “freeze” existing accounts where they are on the date of the change. For example: I have 4,678 photos in my stream as of tonight. So, my account would be “frozen” at 4,678 photos. This is above the 1,000 photo limit, but it involves no deletion of existing photos, the action which I think everyone can agree with is the most heinous thing to come out of these changes.
I began considering the counterargument to this, however, and it became obvious that that’s probably not a good idea after all. The reason: an account with the 1,000 photo limit will likely have the ability, once it reaches that limit, to delete one of those 1,000 images and “replace” it with a new image, thereby allowing the account to remain active. An account frozen with 4,678 photos, however, might attempt to “game the system” by deleting one of those 4,678 and replacing it – much in the same way as the 1,000-limited account, except this account could cheat and remain at 4,678. The only way this would be able to work fairly is if the account frozen at 4,678 would not be allowed to post anything new until his or her account were to arrive at or below the 1,000 photo limit imposed on all other free accounts.
From that viewpoint, I can see why freezing accounts was not the first option chosen: sure, it would be easy to freeze the accounts, but then those users would effectively be forced to become inactive. At least by deleting images, everyone will be on a level playing field. There are still many different arguments that could be taken in favor of either direction here, but I don’t feel like exploring them further. I believe I made my main point clear: there’s not really a “good” option, either way.
Of course, the way to circumvent these issues is to join flickr pro – which is very obviously what the new site owners want us to consider. The issue here lies in the fact that flickr pro is pricey. $50 a year isn’t a low figure. There are many other ways and venues to store your photos. But flickr is more than a photo storage site. It’s a place for interaction regarding photos. So in effect, what flickr is asking us is whether or not that interaction – the additional benefit, above just plain photo storage – is worth paying for.
To me, it is. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve made a lot of great friends here, and thoroughly enjoy using this site. This is my hobby, and I don’t want to give it up. I may only have 4,000-something photos posted to the site right now, but you’d be amazed at the amount I have waiting in my archives. I’m not going to let those go to waste. I’m also not interested in uploading them at some different platform. (I’ll get into those reasons a little later on.) flickr is the place for me. I like commenting with y’all, I like viewing and faving y’all’s photos, and – quite frankly – I like the organization aspect of the site. (I tag and geotag my photos. I place my photos into albums. I upload photos in themed “weeks” every Saturday of the year. And, very obviously, I write long descriptions to accompany each image. This is the only site that gives me all of those capabilities, as well as the aforementioned interaction benefits, in one place. If I have to pay for it, so be it. I like it too much to leave.)
What I take issue with is the amount we’re being asked to pay. I’ve seen some others suggest a tiered payment platform, with each tier having a higher photo limit until you get to the $50 tier, which features unlimited photos. That seems like it would be a nice compromise. Compared to the logistics and theoretical issues plaguing the photo limit and deletion problems, too, this seems like one that could easily be implemented. And who knows, perhaps the new site leaders are considering this. In my opinion, it would definitely be worth them looking into. Perhaps a cheaper price, coupled with a photo limit higher than 1,000 but less than unlimited/1TB, would entice many of you into staying around rather than jumping ship.
While I’m on the topic of the pricing of flickr pro: I did want to point out that the price has not, in fact, doubled. I’ve seen that posted a lot, but was never able to confirm it. I finally found a post commenting on the root of this rumor in the help forum: an old rate of $25 had been grandfathered in until this year, when the rate for all pro users became standard at $50 a year. It’s easy to attribute this to all the other major changes announced last week, but in fact, it took effect several months ago.
And speaking of the help forum: there’s a lot of great clarification there, from the flickr and SmugMug teams. You’ve likely heard that only 3% of free accounts have over 1,000 photos, and thus are the ones affected by the deletion program on its way to being implemented. One such clarification makes the important distinction that a majority of that 3% “are largely storing vast quantities of *private* photos, not public ones, [and thus] aren’t contributing to the community but *are* making Flickr more costly to run and harder for us to build great things for you. It’s not fair that loyal Flickr Pro customers are supporting those types of accounts.” This better justifies the reasoning behind the deletion program. Had the original press release made sure to note that a majority of this 3% was using flickr only for its photo storage capabilities, while ignoring its social aspects, I think a lot more users might have been on board with the need to impose the limit. As I noted earlier, there are plenty of places to simply store photos. flickr is a place for doing more than that. So yes, I agree, if there are users out there who are effectively abusing the purpose of the site, I have no problem with asking them to delete their photos or move them elsewhere. (To be clear: this is not saying that I have suddenly reversed course and become okay with deleting everyone else’s photos, be it those who upload only publicly or those who have a mix of public and private photos in their stream. I am only okay with deleting the images of those who are using the site exclusively for private storage and have zero public photos or comments.)
Another, more pertinent staff comment reads, “The problem is that everyone agrees Flickr is staggeringly expensive to operate and that someone needs to pay for it, but nobody wants to be the one to pay. Of course, I understand that, but our job is to strike the right balance to make sure the costs are covered by asking those who get the most value out of Flickr to be a paying member. The best way we have to identify who those people are is based on the number of photos stored with us. Is it perfect? No. But after 5 years of hunting for a better way, I’ve never heard one proposed.
“So, yes, the 3% of members whose usage patterns look for all intents and purposes the most like those who have opted to buy Pro memberships” – that is, the portion of the 3% not abusing the site for private photo storage purposes, I’m assuming – “but who are currently getting it for free, are the ones who are asked to make a choice. We sincerely hope that you’ll agree that you get a tremendous value for your money and that you’ll join the ranks of the Pros. But it’s 100% your choice and if you choose otherwise, it’s your call.”
I can’t confirm yet that I’ll be getting a “tremendous” value for my money, particularly since I imagine I’ll be getting most of the same experience I’ve been getting for free thus far. But I’m willing to give it a shot.
I hope I’m correct in saying that those of you who are leaving are not entirely unwilling to give flickr a shot, but rather are simply unable. Well, “unwilling” might not be the best word for that. I understand that $50 is a lot to pay, and even if you can afford it, you may not want to. But I still do firmly believe that flickr is the only place that provides all of the options I mentioned before in one all-encompassing website. I’ve seen many of you mention moving to Blogger or Facebook as free substitutes for flickr. I’ll support whatever route you choose, but here are my personal cons for each of those sites and why I’m not choosing them:
Blogger: to see images clearly, you must enlarge them and view them separately from main post; Blogger’s platform, I’ve found, is not very user-friendly, especially if you’ve got a lot of photos to upload; there are no comment alerts to let you know when you’ve received a reply; I personally prefer to use my blog to host more long-form, formal posts, as opposed to informal descriptions here on flickr (yes, I consider this volume “informal” XD ) – theoretically, if I wanted to, I could start another blog, but that still doesn’t solve those other issues. (Pros of Blogger include some semblance of organization [not albums, but tags]; the “reading list” feature so you can track new posts of the blogs you follow; and the lack of a need for your viewers to be a member of the site in order to interact with your content.)
Facebook: you must be a member to interact with anyone’s content or receive comment alerts (and I have no desire to become a Facebook member); you also cannot view any comments at all on the mobile version of the site.
Instagram: I haven’t seen many of you say you’re considering this as an option, but in my opinion, insofar as your flickr content is based on photos, descriptions, comments, and faves, this seems like the most similar layout. However, for this site you also must be a member in order to interact, and there are also no organization abilities (to my knowledge).
I follow 100 people, and over this past week I’ve made a list of 35 of you who upload content the most regularly. Of these 35, only 5 have pro already. 14 of the remaining 30 of you have stated your plans for the future. 13 of those 14 are planning on leaving the site. I’ll let that sink in.
If this trend continues – which, unfortunately, it likely will – then there will be a much smaller community here on flickr, once the dust settles. With you all scattering to the four winds, not only will it be impossible to keep up with all of your content in one place as we’ve all been able to do on flickr up to this point, it will also consequently become very difficult to keep up with your content – I barely manage viewing all of your photos as it is currently; I can only imagine how behind I’ll get when I’ve got 30 new blogs to follow! I also hate to think I’ll be losing the ability to easily interact with some of you, for those who choose to go to sites that require memberships. Similarly, I hate to think that some of you might be leaving the community altogether (for example, MJBarnes – who only recently returned after a prolonged absence – has already deleted his page a second time).
So I guess that’s my main overall issue with these changes: that our growing retail community on flickr is effectively being destroyed. In Matt Smith’s farewell speech on “Doctor Who,”* he said, “We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people, all through our lives; and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” It may be a bit of a stretch, but that’s what I’m imagining with this flickr situation – the site is changing, and, as I discussed earlier, it frankly needed some of these changes in order to remain economically viable. But from the social/interaction aspect, flickr was something, and thanks to the photo cap and (particularly) the paywall, now it’s becoming something else, with the platform we like/want/need ceasing to exist. Really, it’s just a shame.
So, to summarize: I’ll still be here. And I’ll miss all of you, as well.
Uploads continue Saturday.
* – On an unrelated, but related, note: not only am I losing a bunch of you guys, I’ve also lost “Doctor Who”… my mom and I, who have been watching together since the Matt Smith era, have taken the show off of our TiVo to-do list this season. I like Jodie Whittaker’s new Doctor, but I really don’t care for the writing of the show at all. It seems like Chris Chibnall (the new showrunner) is trying to morph the show into a more dramatic character piece, which I don’t like at all. Similarly, there’s a new composer this season as well, and the music – which sets the mood – is no longer as fun as it used to be. “Rosa,” the last episode we watched, actually made me uncomfortable as we watched it. Don’t get me wrong – the episode was beautifully handled, and the fact that its portrayal of the 1960s in southern America was so realistic makes it a powerful teaching tool (one reviewer whose article I read noted that he wouldn’t be surprised if it began being showed in classrooms soon). But that’s just the thing – I watch “Doctor Who” because it’s science fiction, not reality-based. It’s just not the same anymore. Which, again, is a shame.
(c) 2018 Retail Retell
These places are public so these photos are too, but just as I tell where they came from, I’d appreciate if you’d say who 🙂
Tagged: , geoffrey , toy , box , toys , r , us , kroger , marketplace , hernando , ms , desoto , county , retail , flickr , changes , pro