Flickr n’est pas une photoblogging site

That Time Of The Year

Ugh. I just posted this photo to Flickr and tried to add something to the caption. No can do: Flickr’s new site design makes it impossible create captions greater than a single paragraph. The caption editor interprets the “Return” key as “Accept this change and save,” not “begin a new paragraph.”

What a dumb change. I’ve been a happy Flickr user since July of 2004 and I’ve always recommended it as the go-to photo hosting site. It was created as a standalone service and it’s kept that character even through its acquisition by Yahoo!. Alone among many competitors, it lets you decide how to use it. Publish photos publicly, share them privately with friends and family, host them for your website, Flickr doesn’t care.

I loved it because it’s a terrific photoblogging site. The fortunes of the Celestial Waste Of Bandwidth have risen and fallen as I moved platforms, redesigned themes, changed hosts…but my writing for my Flickr stream has been consistent. I love writing photo essays. Here’s the photo. Here’s the story around the photo. There are too many examples to count but do check out my photostory about my visit to Alcatraz Island if you haven’t already. (Click to enter Flickr and see the captions)

It’s probably not far off the mark to say that I’ve done so much of this kind of photoblogging because Flickr made it so easy. It didn’t cut me off after a couple of sentences. If I had more to say, Flickr encouraged me to say it.

Removing this feature is a terrible move. They’ve removed a feature that made Flickr special to a certain percentage of its users…and why? What problem does this fix? What opportunity does this create? I’m stumped for answers. Is it (oh, bloody hell) an example of Design Wonks ruining things?

Long captions work just fine with this redesign. I create them in Aperture and export them into the JPEG as EXIF data. When these photos appear in the redesigned Flickr, they’re comfortable to read. So that’s not the reason why photoblogging had to go away.

Flickr has just made an arbitrary decision that limits its own awesomeness. The user’s ability to write about their photos is now hard to discover and requires a workaround. We need to do a trick to make that happen. Flickr’s new approach to captioning delivers zero benefits to the user, apart from, I suppose, protecting them from the unholy horror of seeing a button under the caption editing box marked “Save.”

I won’t leave Flickr over this, no. But now it’s closer to being Just Another Photo Service. If all I want my photo service to do is help me share pictures, geez, those features are built-in to iOS and Android now. I’m left wondering why I should continue recommending Flickr as my personal service-of-choice, instead of just listing it as one fine choice among many.

[alert style=”yellow”]Update: Okay, so it turns out that you can option-enter to introduce line breaks. I still think it’s a mistake to make something so simple even a tiny bit more complicated.[/alert]