Update, November 5th: Today I received an e-mail from Flickr support which may be of interest to quarterly Pro account holders: The 30% one year discount on annual Pro subscriptions (available through until the end of November) is also available to those who opt to switch from the quarterly plan to the annual plan.
Quite a few people have registered disappointment over the recently announced changes being made to Flickr free accounts by new owners SmugMug.
Personally, I admit to finding Flickr has been good value for money as a Pro member. I’ve enjoyed unlimited storage (and could continue to do so) and – more particularly – ad-free browsing of the Flickr site, as well as a good level of support. True, I am a little narked that in August Flickr removed the grandfathered rate for Pro users (introduced when Yahoo decided to up free accounts from 200 photos to up to a terrabyte of storage) without apparently e-mailing all Pro users about the change; but, at the end of the day, even the increase still represents pretty reasonable value for a dedicated service that offers a solid platform for image sharing.
Further, the upping of Pro fees puts Flickr on a par with SmugMug’s Basic offering, allowing a fairer comparison between the two for those who might want to have a potentially more flexible approach to how they organise and share their images. For example, SmugMug’s offering includes customisable web page options for displaying images, a greater video length (20 minutes / 3Gb per video, rather than Flickr Pro’s 10 min maximum).
Of course, we all hate paying for something: but like Second Life, Flickr is a business, and as such, SmugMug need to ensure it remains viable. As such, the revisions to the free account are, at the end of the day, something of a reasonable balance: the provision of 1,000 free images is still 5 times the volume originally offered to free account holders at the time free accounts were extended to 1 Tb of storage, allowing what SmugMug to see as the majority of the free account users going without forcing them to upgrade, while it is not so excessive as to have Pro account holders looking elsewhere for a home given that the grandfathered rate for long-time Pro users has been rescinded.
In my piece covering the announcement by SmugMug I offered a link to Toms Guide’s recommended photo sharing sites for those SL users on Flickr free accounts who might be considering their options. Whether people decide to move or not is entirely a personal choice. But it is worth that given Flickr’s track record on frequency of changes, it’s likely there will be few additional pricing updates to the platform in the near future; thus, Flickr does still represent good value for money. Less that US $5.00 a month when paying annually, and US $6.00 a month for those on the quarterly plan (with the ability to make a swap to elsewhere with greater ease than annual subscribers are able to enjoy).
Even so, for those remaining with Flickr (either by limiting themselves to the free account or upping to Pro), there are some understandable concerns. In blogging about spam on Flickr, SmugMug came close to sounding as if digital images from the likes of Second Life would no longer be welcome. However, Don MacAskill, SmugMug’s CEO, has made it clear this is not the case.
But, as Strawberry Singh points out, in an exceptionally clear and concise blog post, in order to ensure SL images do not run afoul of SmugMug’s Terms of Service, it is essential they are correctly labelled as screen shots). Strawberry provides clear instructions on how to do this in her blog post. In addition, she also provides some important advice to Second Life Flirckr group owners, and for SL content creators using Flickr; as such I strongly recommend reading her post if you do intend to continue to use Flickr.
Berry has also produced a video on making the required changes to meet SmugMug’s TOS (together with other information), so I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it here for those who prefer a video guide to what needs to be done.