Discussions (12791)

Why is Flickr so successful?

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Jan Tik says:

Flickr is many things to many people. Based on the discussions in Flickr Central, here is one attempt to summarize what members think and value most. Since many hold similar views I have not attempted to credit anyone in particular. I have also tried to read between the lines, therefore all errors and omissions are my own. Please feel free to correct, comment, add or subtract from this.

The Business

1. Flickr a great and interesting idea.
2. Most functionality is free.
3. The pricing structure is simple. What you pay for is clearly defined and easy to understand.
4. The implementation is great.
5. Execution is a miracle.
6. Great things are expected to happen yet.


7. Is unusually receptive and interested in member’s wishes.
8. Freely and informally participates in debates.
9. Consults the membership on most major initiatives and actively requests input from members.
10. Is not afraid of change.
11. They are not judgmental.
12. Treats the user base as partners, ask their input on software improvement and business issues, and responds quickly to bugs. This leads to the quick identification and fixing of problems.


13. The site and tools are easy to use.
14. Flickr has more uses than is initially apparent. As a result, members are happy.
15. Members have control over their images – who can see, comment on, and download them.
16. You can select favorites, place comments, add contacts, write notes, and view slideshows.
17. Tagging is intuitive and remarkably successful even though no standards exist.
18. The ability to form groups and to communicate via forums is highly treasured.
19. Large file sizes are allowed.
20. Images are automatically resized.
21. Users can choose to display their EXIF data.
22. Creative Commons licensing is available and much appreciated.
23. Your photos are hosted for free, and you can use RSS feeds, and display your photos on your blog.
24. There’s an open API that makes the technical gurus spill tears of joy.

Operational Issues

25. Flickr is focused and is not trying to be everything for everyone. The mail system is minimalist, but this is an advantage since it can only be used inside Flickr and does not distract from the activities.
26. The system is evolutionary – that is why it’s always in Beta. Good!!
27. Members are the beta-testers. They are being treated as if they're a valuable resource, and they appreciate it.
28. New functionality is released rapidly and often, and member input on releases is asked for and valued.
29. Good ideas from users are actively invited, recognized and implemented where possible.
30. The tagging system works because of the redundancy. Even though not all photos are tagged correctly, enough results show up to make this method very effective.
31. The system breaks often, but this is good because it is an indication of rapid growth. It is expected to improve soon.

The Flickr Environment

32. The site is well designed.
33. It is rich and unstructured. Members supply the content and the structure.
34. Advertising is at a minimum.
35. It is great for individual purposes like saving and storage.
36. The site has great community tools for sharing ideas and photos.
37. The forums often contain quality discussions.
38. It is very accessible.
39. The content is diverse and intriguing, but always visually attractive.
40. Regulation is at a minimum, and a large part of that is left to the members themselves to administer.
41. The result: Flickr is full of nice surprises.

The Social Aspect

42. Flickr is open. Anyone can participate.
43. It’s has the feel of a flea market or a bazaar.
44. The place is humming with activity and there is plenty opportunity to meet others.
45. It is self-organizing. Members can start their own groups, invite others and manage their groups.
46. No hierarchy here. Flickr is self categorizing. Tagging images helps you organize your collection and makes it easier for others to find. Members and friends can add to your tags which add value to your work.
47. Tags also bring people together and channel their creativity.
48. Members can share as much or as little as they like and have control over whom they want to share with.
49. There is a great sense of Community.
50. All over the place people are documenting their lives and sharing it with their friends and family.
51. It is a great place to learn from others and discover new ideas and sights.
52. In Flickr country there is a world of diversity, variety, tastes, attitudes, and different ways of seeing trough the eyes, the minds and lives of others.
53. There is plenty opportunities to connect with others who share specific interests, to work with them and be part of group projects.
54. The social fabric is close-knit and people make real friends in Flickrtown.
55. This makes them feel less inhibited, and it has helped many to open up.
56. People are less lonely because of Flickr.

Flickr's Nature

57. Flickr is a playful place and members like to have fun.
58. Commercial use is outlawed and this is valued highly.
59. It is not just a web site, but has a practical side to it – people shoot photos, edit their work, post and discuss their creations and debate issues.
60. Flickr is inspirational and allow everyone to become more creative.
61. The members are friendly and non critical. Most comments are positive. This makes Flickrtown a pleasant and inviting place, and it encourages participation.
62. Members display a lot of respect for each other. Some trolls exist, but are quickly dealt with.
63. There are many subcultures within Flickr, and no particular style or theme dominates.
64. Members are tolerant and altruistic, and given to share and help rather than take.
65. A warning though: It can become quite addictive.
66. There is a great deal of concern if someone falls ill, or suddenly disappears.

Self-Fulfillment & Learning

67. Flickr is a place where people find new ways to express themselves. It's like having your own personal art show.
68. A great deal of inspiration, creativity and innovation takes place around the clock. Not everyone gets enough sleep.
69. The fruit of their labor is quickly published and shared with others.
70. People love to contribute to this process by commenting upon the work of others and by selecting their favorite works from others.
71. We all learn and become aware of coincidences in space, where color and form collide in perfect harmony. This lifts our spirit and we tend to seek beauty in everything.
72. Many rediscover a dormant passion for photography that makes the blood run thicker and faster. They begin to see the world through the eyes of a lens, framing their perspectives and experiences. New dimensions are added to their perception.
73. Others see the world through a thousand lenses, directed by different people. This gives them a strong sense of proportion and a new awareness of what is possible.
74. Flickr turns everyone into an artist. It enables people to see the world around them in more depth and makes them aware of all the cool stuff they were missing.
75. Flickr is about contribution, about learning, about understanding. It's the opposite of work!
76. People connect and exchange art and information, and their time on Flickr act as a distraction from the daily grind.
77. The Flickrati are free. They are freed from photo albums, free to define their own terms of copyright, and free to exchange their gifts.
78. Flickr becomes their collective memory.
79. Out of this emerges not only a way of life, but a celebration to life.
80. Flickr is whatever you want it to be...
7:51AM, 20 May 2005 PDT (permalink)

feeble eyes [deleted] says:

Wow if there was a contest to define Flickr, you'd definately win. :D
ages ago (permalink)

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Jan Tik says:

Actually the credit should go to the people who made these comments. I just collected them. :)
ages ago (permalink)

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qbert72 says:

Jan Tik is my hero. Good!
ages ago (permalink)

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quas says:

Wow! That is truly a comprehensive list.

Personally, I'd say that those points explain why Flickr is so great; I'm not sure that's why it is so successful. I think I could narrow the success down to a few points – say, 4 (good implementation), 17 (tagging), 23 (RSS feeds and blogging tools), 24 (the API), and 32 (pretty design).

Really, I think the reason Flickr has become so popular is that it puts the power in the hands of the people. Examples:
-Tagging not only lets you organize your own photos, but organize others' photos however you like. I can also add notes and comments to most photos on Flickr. Good!!
-RSS feeds let you view photos or discussions in the context you want, or syndicate them on your own site. You're not locked into the Flickr interface.
-The API lets you build your own applications that hook up to Flickr. You can add nearly any functionality you can think of using the API.

This is particularly popular with the techie, blogger crowd...and oh, look – bloggers are all about getting information out to people! Bloggers like Flickr, bloggers tell everyone about Flickr, readers try Flickr and love it...voila, successful site.

That's my theory, at least. :)
ages ago (permalink)

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Janet Leadbeater says:

wonderful collection of the discussions
and all true :)
ages ago (permalink)

able juice [deleted] says:

Excellent, you've definitely managed to capture the finer points of flickr.

My guess at the success of flickr is that it's focused around community rather than selling you storage space.
ages ago (permalink)

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Matt Fitzwater-Stevens says:

Wonderful post.
ages ago (permalink)

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zenera says:

Thank you for taking the trouble to make this for us, another example of benevolence on flickr
ages ago (permalink)

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caterina is a group administrator caterina says:

Yeah, the fact that you've gone and collected all of these things speaks volumes. Thanks!

Withouth all the photos, comments, support, contributions, discussions of all of you there would be no Flickr. The fact that you come back here again and again is why Flickr is successful, and we don't take that for granted.
ages ago (permalink)

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Dennison says:

I know this is covered in Jan Tik's post (what isn't!) but I'd say it again this way: Flickr is a community and one that's great to belong to - just what the net always promised us.
Now let's all go into the woods and drink Cool-aid together.
ages ago (permalink)

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striatic is a group administrator striatic says:

bah, bah, bah!

BAH! i say.

why is flickr successful?

two words:

Dos Pesos
ages ago (permalink)

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LarimdaME says:

81. It's crack!
ages ago (permalink)

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cobalt123 says:

82. Meetups and touring with flickr!
striatic does america
ages ago (permalink)

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styler* says:

managment hand picked the coolest people from across the globe to build flickr.
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Bastiaan Slabbers says:

81. I am in it!
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striatic is a group administrator striatic says:

managment hand picked the coolest people from across the globe to build flickr.

except cal.

he's from mars.
ages ago (permalink)

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Julie70 Joyoflife says:

I just try to copy and translate in french, to be able to explain some of my enthousiasm about Flickr
ages ago (permalink)

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Jan Tik says:

Thank you Julie, it will be great if you can post the translation too.
ages ago (permalink)

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3rd Coast Chick says:

Great post Jan! You summarized it so well.
ages ago (permalink)

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First Contact says:

Jan Tik, nicely summarised. Again, great job!
ages ago (permalink)

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