Quitting Flickr [Updated 2/4]

Recently, a set of photos I took of Amber disappeared from Flickr with no explanation. I’ve attached them to this post so you can see what I’m talking about.

It’s still unclear whether this was a technical glitch or whether they were pulled for violating terms of service or some other unknown reason. The possible terms of service violation (I’m guessing) is that she’s in her underwear (scandalous!), though nobody has actually said as much yet. I have a ticket outstanding with their support team to get an explanation. It took several days for a person to answer the ticket initially, then another several days to answer my first response, then another several days for the ticket to be escalated to a “senior staff member” who has yet to offer an answer after another several days.

I’m past caring much about the explanation, and am now fixated on why it’s taking this long to receive an answer when I’ve been a paying customer for several years. I shouldn’t have to go to this much trouble to find out why my photos were removed. And I should have been notified when they were removed. How many of my other photos have disappeared in a similar way without anyone ever telling me? How would I even get an answer to that question when they can’t tell me about one specific item in a reasonable amount of time?

So while I haven’t actually quit yet (3,900 photos aren’t moving overnight), I am coming up with a self-hosted contingency plan.

My initial evaluation led me to look at Gallery and Zenphoto. I could talk a lot about pluses and minuses of each, but for me it came down to Gallery has an API, Zenphoto doesn’t. That means there are third-party programs and plugins to upload photos into Gallery without having to go through the website.

Currently I edit photos in Aperture, then use the built-in export features to send them to Flickr and Facebook. The Gallery Export for Aperture plug-in by Ubermind would allow me to switch to self-hosted Gallery with little disturbance to my workflow. I can fill out titles once in Aperture and have them show up in multiple sites, and also use it to copy albums directly from Flickr to Gallery (I would prefer a one-button move like Migratr, which didn’t work for me, but this is still better than filling out 3,900 captions manually).

So I have a reasonably easy option to switch to self-hosting photos. The migration would probably take me a day.

I do want to hear Flickr’s explanation before I pull the trigger. I’d miss some of Flickr’s community features, especially the random comments I get from people providing additional background and anecdotes about photos. Moving photos from Flickr to self-hosted is the digital equivalent of taking my money out of the bank and storing in a shoebox under my bed. But I guess in my old age I’m starting to get more paranoid about who has control over my data.

Update – Flickr support said there is a record of an API call deleting the files in December. This is possible since I use Aperture to interface with the API. Why the hell did it take them this long to tell me that? Still undecided on my long-term solution.

5 thoughts on “Quitting Flickr [Updated 2/4]

  1. I’ve considered a move. Ever since the sale to Yahoo, I’ve wondered just how long Flickr would keep their independent spirit. But I have no desire to maintain my own hosting. I used Gallery years ago and found it a massive pain the the ass, not to mention quite slow on the virtual hosting I was using. Several photography nerds have recommended SmugMug (http://www.smugmug.com/), a Flickr alternative with better quality options. It’s $40 a month, not $25, but the offerings might be better in the long run.

  2. Most likely it has to do with some over zealous person flagging your photos. Check the Content Filter flag under Owner Settings is set to something other than safe and maybe that will help the situation in the future, obviously getting an answer and a fast one would go a long ways to make this situation better. Good luck!

  3. Thanks, yeah, I’ll give that a try too.

    Gallery 1 was awful, but 2 is a lot better and 3 is better still. 3 is still new so the programs and plugins haven’t been adapted yet though. It has a new REST API which looks pretty easy to use and appeals to my hacker side.

  4. I think it’s most likely a glitch since they were all marked friends and family only. I don’t think sites have any responsibility to inform users if they remove content that is truly in violation of TOS. But these weren’t. And even if they *weren’t* friends and family only, I still don’t think they would be in violation… because that would get into that same kind of BS as Facebook removing breastfeeding photos for being “obscene.”

    After the baby is born I am totally going to post a breastfeeding picture as my FB profile pic.

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