modidied from creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by El Bibliomata

The new flickr is an ass.

I got over its ass way of “””supporting””” with creative commons (triple scare quotes, flickr’s implementation is anything but an implementation).

But this dog can find the ways around asses.

I am not all that offended nor up in arms over the new layout. It was ripe for a change. It seems off that you can find so many parts of the old interface in so many places (any of the settings, the view all sizes), the old interface peeks through like a pair of old underwear riding up and out of the old jeans.

What kind of ass interface design is done such haphazardly?

But that does not bother me.

What does bother me is the ass approach of removing previous functionality.

Flickr notes, the ability to annotate an image with commentary, callouts, is dead. It was to me, one of the sleeper gems of flickr. Before the “””new””” [ass] design, one could annotate images as a learning tool, one of my long lived examples was a Volcanic Types diagram.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Each part was including a pop up note with a link to references for each type of Volcano. This image was created October 2004 and has had 40,000 views. Now it is totally useless since the hypertext feature has been neutered.

This image has the most views of any on my account. It is not because it is an interesting photo

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

but because it was, at one time, full of notes, some I added, but many others added as they discovered this feature. I used this as part of “I Didn’t Know You Could Do That with Free Web Tools”, a presentation for the 2006 K-12 Online Conference. It is from October 2006, and has over 67,000 views.

You can actually find shreds of the notes, buried under the 3rd icon tab, the one for tags.

That makes sense.

If you are an ass designer.

So they are listed there, and you can delete them, but you cannot add new ones.

flickr noteless

Why even bother? That is an ass move to tease me with functionality removed

Ass. Flickr.

Now I know what you will say.

“Yahoo sucks. That’s why I moved to ____________ [fill in name of alt service]”

I don’t want to move my photos. I have almost 37,000 of them uploaded since 2004. I use them in hundreds maybe more, blog posts. Running away does not address the actions of an ass. You have to call an ass an ass.

I’m talking to you flickr.

The rationale is something like Google used to kill Reader “blah blah blah it’s been a feature for a long time blah blah blah blah but not widely used by enough people to justify blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”

That’s ass talk. I have over 100,000 views on just two photos that used this feature.

Like they used to remove the functionality to post to a blog via flickr; technically you can post to one blog platform, tumblr… a (ahem) Yahoo product.

I tried one small act. I went to the image I used for the “new flickr ass” image at the top of the post, a creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by El Bibliomata. Where there might have been notes, I saw Add a Person to this Image.

This image is of an ass, and that is flickr. So I went to add flickr.

add flickr


no flickr

“this person ass cannot be tagged”

I just call ’em like I see ’em.

But have no fear, you can vote to bring back notes. It is number 26.

Like that ass flickr is going to listen.



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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Okay! I voted. And spread a few votes on the ‘I hate it’ comments.

    If so many people hate it. Has anyone asked why they have done it? What is in it for them? It costs money to re-design interfaces, even half-ass (or whole-ass) ones.

    I would be curious to understand their rationale. There has to be one beyond trying to piss Cogdog off?

    I am so sorry about your notes features – it is a nice one. I did not know existed. I use Evernote to annotate. May be their less used features could do with more advertising then people would use them more.

    I guess it is to do with ease of maintenance?

  2. Stumbled upon this malfeasant flickr snafu earlier this week. Miserable design decision by flickr; very bad form.

    Added my voice on the feedback page you linked to.

    How STUPID is that?!? Removing the ability to add links on the web!

    I was going to add something about designing like it was 1995 but in 1995 people were looking for more ways to ADD links to the web. Stupid flickr.

    1. To be honest, it is a sound business decision. On the scale of Flickr users, a rather infinitesimal number use this feature.

      There was a time when flickr was not run solely on business principles. They almost acted human.

          1. I really can’t imagine it would’ve been costly to leave alone what was already there. I mean an impoverished version of it IS still there although it works backwards (click on tags » click on comment » area highlights on pic).

            Maybe I’m a whiner but I can’t see the gains that come from decreasing functionality. Particularly since what has always been the winning feature of flickr has been the community. Tell me this image isn’t crippled (click tags » click comments » see crippled highlights):


            Go on. I dare ya.

  3. Flickr is killing me. I’m working on an historic photograph crowdsourcing project (Freedom Now Project) which means I frequently go back and edit image descriptions (often adding links). The only place I can do this right now is in the Organizer–which means I have to find the tiny thumbnail of the photo I want to edit among the vast sea of images. I can still code in the links there, but it’s taking me 4 times the effort.

    Why is this no longer possible from the image itself? I’m sure there’s a reason, but it can’t be a good one.

      1. I tried that too, but was unable to insert any links, html, or even blank lines from the image. Without the ability to format text, it was pretty much useless to me. I’ll try again, but I think that’s a pseudo-feature.

  4. Okay, I take it back. I can’t insert blank lines, but I can do other editing. That raises it to the level of semi-pseudo feature.

    1. hello! I just had a little look. Shift-enter works for new line, and added a link and it worked. hmmm….

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