Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flickr forcing artists to become 'non-public', known by them as 'NIPSA'

Something disturbing is happening at Flickr at the moment. They're forcing people who have predominantly art in their galleries to become 'not public'. This means that if you do a search for something, non-public pictures will not show up in that search.

This appears to be a bureaucratic implementation of one of the clauses in their 'Community Guidelines'. But it's very disturbing, because it indicates a lack of responsiveness to their paying users. (There are two ways of using Flickr.... Free and Pro. Free users can have 200 pics in the gallery at any time, and three 'sets'. Pro users can have any number of pics, and any number of sets.

If you want to look at my pics, you need to do it by following a link to my gallery. There is no way you can find me without that. (If you're interested, here's my Flickr gallery:

Here's a copy of my correspondence with Flickr about this issue. If you're a Flickr user, please consider writing to them asking for a change in their policy. To me, the policy is senseless, and seems unnecessarily punitive to the many artists and viewers of art that use the site.

My Query to Flickr:

I've been a Flickr Pro member for some time now. A friend of mine tried to do a search for my pics, and can't find any.

I subsequently tried a search too, and my work doesn't show.

I've seen several threads in discussion groups about the fact that you
seem to be making all artwork that is non-photographic 'private'.

I really would like to know why you're doing this.

I've gone through the Yahoo! terms of service, and it mentions 'photos,
graphics, audio and video' everytime it mentions anything to do with
photos. So there is nothing explicitly stated in those terms of service
preventing me from hosting my drawings publicly on Flickr.

Next, I went to your FAQ section to find out if there was a thread about this there. Maybe I overlooked it, but I don't see one.

I went to 'About Flickr'. And found nothing.

I'm very confused about this. There are literally hundreds of thousands
of artworks on Flickr, and many of them are on Pro user's accounts.

I am a digital artist. Every single image on my Flickr gallery was
created by me on my computer or on my palmtop. Almost all of them are
based on photos I took.

I'm paying you for this service, and when I flipped over to Pro, there
was nothing said about the fact that my drawings would not be public.

I'd really like to know if you can reset my status so that people can actually see my works when they search for them.

Can you get back to me about this?


Blue skies

Flickr's reply:
On 8/23/06, Flickr Support <> wrote:


Thanks for your question.

Please see our Community Guidelines.

Here is an excerpt:

"With some exceptions, it's OK to post other images, but if
the majority of your photostream contains content other than
photographs (like illustrations, screenshots, diagrams,
etc.) it's very likely that your account will be marked Not
in Public Site Areas (NIPSA). NIPSA means your photos won't
show up in photo searches, but they will still be visible
in your pages, your groups and contacts."



My response:

Thanks Monish...

I appreciate the reply.

But I'd reallllllllllllllllllllllly like to know WHY?

It doesn't make sense.

You haven't really answered any of the questions I asked.

If you have hundreds of thousands of images on Flickr which AREN'T photos, and hundreds of groups dedicated to artworks, why do you have this bizarre policy?

And why don't you make it clear and upfront in the FAQ?

You're NOT very friendly to artists. And yet it's a site that is home to a substantial number of artists.

So, I repeat... what can be done to revert my account from NIPSA to normal?

What are you guys doing to address the concerns of the hundreds of artists who are asking this question?

I looked at the forums and did a search for NIPSA and found hundreds of questions about this, with not a single answer (in the threads that I browsed) from Flickr admin people.

You guys are literally begging for a PR disaster at some point by not addressing these concerns, and sooner or later you're going to have to actually say something in response to this that is NOT a cut and paste from some sub-clause.

I'm inviting you to escalate my email upwards to one or more of your PR and Marketing mavens to actually pause and reflect and then take real action.

This isn't me being a grain of sand in the system. It's not me being egotistical and thinking I can change Flickr with the might of my words. It's more an honest evaluation and an honest appeal to you guys to do something.

What does it actually COST you to be friendly to artists on the site? What twisted logic (besides some obscure clause about artworks) FORCES you to hide our pictures from the public? You guys are coming across as rigid bureaucrats who can't think for themselves. Kinda like, 'This is what the RULES and REGULATIONS state, so our hands are tied.'

Your hands are NOT tied. You have free will. You have a giant site. You have the goodwill of zillions of people. But you're squandering that goodwill. And at a certain point, that goodwill ceases to exist. And even if it ceases to exist for a small subset of the image-sharing community, once the rot sets in, no amount of marketing spend will be able to prevent the spread of that rot.

You have the power in your hands to avert a Flickr disaster that is brewing as I sit here and type.

Please engage me on these questions.

Blue skies

[UPDATE -- 25 August 2006:] There has been no response to Flick so far. So, what I've done is this... I've submitted this blog posting to DIGG, where it seems to be generating some interest.

Here are two things you can do to help show Flickr that artists are citizens too:

(1) Please click on this DIGG link, and add your voice to the melee. It's only through pressure that Flickr might relent on this policy. After all, they want artists to be their friends. Surely?

(2) Send Flickr a politely worded note via their 'Help by Email' link. Please be polite. We're not looking to be banned! We're looking to be made pulbic and treated like humans. So please treat them like humans.

Thanks for your help. -- Roy

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