Flickr and Yahoo accounts – relationships are hard to break up

It’s finally arrived, the time when you have to merge your Flickr and Yahoo accounts. It was obvious it was coming and now they want to move the final 5% of users across to the Yahoo! login system to simplify things.

95% of your fellow Flickrites already use this system and their experience is just the same as yours is now, except they sign in on a different page. It’s easy to switch: it takes about a minute if you already have a Yahoo! ID and about five minutes if you don’t.

Now, the last time I tried this, I got demerged very, very quickly. The incessant need to Yahoo to be reassured that you were you and could remember your password drove me insane. Flickr is cookied and that’s the way I like it – if I go to the page, then it remembers me and I never. This lets me have the system set up on my parents PC as well and they can see the stuff without having to create an account.

But it looks like there is no longer a choice. Read the >700 message thread about the changes over on the Flickr site or take a look at the BBC report. There is so much passion about this service and so much dislike and distrust of Yahoo! that tempers are running high. Many of the last stalwarts are threatening or have left.

The main issues as I can see are:

  • the inability to stay logged in or to use other Yahoo accounts at the same time. Supposedly fixed, as attested to by Flickr staff in the forums. I know i can deliberately sign out of Yahoo and still be in Flickr, but it depends now if it ever asks me for my password. My general Yahoo account seems to ask me about once a month to sign in, which is about on par with gmail, so not too much worries.

    Flickr Staff: mroth says:

    loupiote: can i use some yahoo services (e.g. Instant Messenger) with a yahoo-ID while at the same time i am logged on flickr using another yahoo-ID?

    Yes, I do this nearly every day, since I have a separate account for work and personal stuff. My Flickr account always “just stays” logged in on my computer, and isn’t affected when I log in and out of IM with different accounts.

  • Why do I have to give them all this info to sign up with a service I don’t want. They are after gender, birthdate and postcode at the moment, which is not as much as some I’ve seen. However, I can’t seem to delete other personal information that I’ve given them inthe past such as job, which was collected for a completely different reason/service and associated with the account. They do ask too much that is mandatory overall, but not for straight signup.
  • I have to get a Yahoo email address and if I don’t use it, it gets deleted and my Flickr account will go. On the sign up page it does imply that your user name becomes an email address, so this does appear to be compulsory but again the Flickr staff have answered that they have set it up so that you don’t have to use the email. I’m not actually sure what to make of this one as there are many different stories in the comments. My Yahoo id is associated with my gmail account, but, according to my YIM, I have a Yahoo email account as it occasionally tells me I have messages (about 1 per year) but if I go into my account on Yahoo it says I don’t have one and I should sign up. I’m not sure what is the real situation but everything works so far with this
  • I’m going to get spammed by Yahoo. Again, there is history of yahoo not been the best at all with personal data. But I have a yahoo account tied into gmail and as far as I can tell I’ve never received marketing messages from them (I opted out) and I’m blind to online ads these days. So I know that I’m not getting spammed.

So there’s a list of facts and experiences about Yahoo and the challenges that have been raised. It does not appear to be that bad.

But unfortunately, passion for a brand is not fact based. I feel the same way now as I did when I started this post – angry and annoyed. I like my Flickr, I like the way it feels to me. My mental picture of it is nowhere near the same as it is of Yahoo, I have far more of a relationship with the photo brand than I do with the parent one. Flickr lived through it’s brand advocates; this is going to lose some of them. It has a place in peoples hearts that many brands would give their eye-teeth for. I’ve merged by accounts but my subscription is up on 13th Mar, 2 days before it becomes compulsory to have a yahoo signin and I’ve not decided to carry on with it yet. This is not a fact based decision, this is emotional-based. And sometimes, however much good customer service you have, however many times you respond in the forums and pay attention to the people who are angry at this, nothing will break through the emotional hurt.

Update: if you want to read a summary of the feelings instead of wade through the rapidly approaching 800 messages, see Thomas Hawk’s blog post. Yes, he is the CEO of Zooomr but he is also a passionate user of Flickr who has over 5000 friends and belongs to a couple of pages of groups.

1/2: A final update..from Heather going above and beyond.

Despite current thinking, we’re not evil and we don’t want this to dominate the conversation, so I’ll just pay the refund myself so it doesn’t have to be giant process. The money will just come from my personal PayPal account and no receipts sent or anything.

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