Is Flickr Holding Photos Hostage?

Mike Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, published a post today saying that he won’t use Flickr anymore until they release his photos that they are holding hostage.

My Pro account expired at some point, probably because I missed an email or my credit card number changed. I wasn’t using Flickr as much, having moved more to Facebook because of the structured people tagging feature. But then one day I was searching for an old treasured photo that existed only on Flickr and on the hard drive of some long forgotten and discarded mobile phone.

Flickr won’t show me that photo. If your pro account expires only your last 200 photos are shown. The only way I can get access to that photo is by paying the Pro fee.

His complaint is that if you upgrade to a pro account, upload a bunch of photos, then let your pro subscription lapse, you don’t get the same benefits of having a pro account.  What?  I wasn’t sure I had read it correctly either, at first.  But, I’ve looked it over several times now, and that really is what he’s whining about. I can say that he’s whining, because he says he is, too.  (I probably would have anyways.)

One of the comments on his post (comments run by facebook btw.  What do you think will happen when facebook decides to stop supporting that or charge for it, Mike?) has a pretty good comparison that makes Mike sound even more whiny.  The commenter compares his complaint to that of a person who rents a self-storage unit, stops paying for it, but still thinks he should be able to get his stuff out of it.  Wrong.  What they’ll do is lock you out of it, then auction your stuff off.

The truth, from where I stand, is that Mike came up in the dot-com boom era of giving everything away for free and supporting it with ads.  So, a lot of those services would have existed back then.  The problem is that, at the moment, ad revenue isn’t quite cutting it.  Some of these places are actually trying to show some positive revenue.

On top of all of that, he expects to be able to upgrade to pro, use the benefits of pro, then selectively keep the benefits of that elevated status even though he is no longer paying for the pro benefits.  I got news for you, Mike.  The benefits go away when you stop paying for them.  And, if you go and sign up for a new free account at flickr, it very clearly tells you that only the last 200 images will be accessible.

If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t have gone pro in the first place.  You should have found someplace that offered the full service you wanted for free.  I’m not entirely sure such a place exists, but feel free to look.  In the mean time, I should hope that Flickr doesn’t take you too seriously and decide to test your lawyer mettle with a little bit of a libel suit.  They don’t have much of a case, I don’t think, but Yahoo has spend more serious money on less serious things.

Also, quit whining.

Is Mike Arrington Catty?

I certainly think it’s possible. You see, he can’t seem to help himself sometimes. Perhaps it’s just his personality? This latest bit, where he finishes calling Robert Scoble a sellout is a good example. Backstory? Way back in January, Scoble announced that he would soon be adding advertisements to his blog through his new employer. Today, he released the redesign of his blog and with it, those advertisements. Well, one advertisement to be exact. Robert has been sponsored by the folks at Seagate for a while now. Mike’s problem with it seems to only be that he has the advertisement on the blog.

If you ask me, it’s just another layer of transparency for Robert. We all knew that he was sponsored by Seagate. He doesn’t try and hide it. Now newcomers will know who his sponsor is as well. If you ask me, it’s better that the ad is there as opposed to it not being there and someone seeing a post where Robert talks about Seagate. Not that he would without disclosure. He’s pretty good about that. Much better than about 95% of the blogosphere. Better than Mike.

I’m not even that big of a fan of Robert’s. He talks alot about things like Twitter and FriendFeed that I really don’t care for. Most of his content is on similar subjects. I don’t do video very often, so I can honestly say that I’ve never watched one of his videos. For many, he’s a tech blogging superstar. A true A-lister. Many would call Mike Arrington the same thing. And in many ways, both are right.

I’m not sure whether there is bad blood between the two of them or not, but one thing is for sure, Mike is taking every opportunity to throw a little mud Roberts way. To me, that’s catty. But then, I’ve thought that of Mike for a while now. Of course, that makes me a little catty towards him. Oh well.

It just seems like Mike can’t decide whether he wants to write for TechCrunch or for ValleyWag.

Don’t like PageRank? Get above it.

With the recent months and the great delay in the latest PageRank update (rumored to be starting now) there have been numerous articles around the web about how PageRank is a outdated metric that we really need to get rid of.  While I can’t argue that nothing should be based solely on the one metric, PageRank has become a standard that many, many people use to gauge how well they are doing.  It also is used by nearly every advertising company that deals with web information as a metric for pricing their clients.

In short, you can whine and moan all you want, but it just isn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon.  And even if it did go away, there would be a replacement in place within weeks.  Maybe not from Google, but from somewhere.

So, how do the great masses of PageRank dissenters get away from it’s evil (do no evil) clutches?  Get above it.  That’s it.  Get above PageRank’s influence.  One of the best examples of this lately has been JohnChow.com.  John started out a little over a year ago and has since managed to make over $20,000 in one month from the blog at JohnChow.com.  He’s gotten a little bit of talk lately for being Google slapped.  He got a majority of his links from a link campaign that was (in Google’s eyes) a bit shady.  He traded reviews of his website with links and appropriate anchor text for a link back.  Very simple link exchange of sorts.  Well, turns out Google didn’t like that much and John stopped showing up in the search engines for a while.  He’s mostly back now, but the funny thing is that it didn’t affect his income hardly at all.

I say he’s above PageRank because he just recently (last few days) dropped from a displayed PR6 to a PR5.  Will that affect his income at all?  Not likely.  Most of his money now comes from private sales and reviews.  Both of those will be independent of the PageRank because those buyers will know the following that John has amassed.  They aren’t just going to go away because Google decides that JohnChow.com is a 5 instead of a 6.  He no longer depends on his PageRank for income levels.

How do you and I get above PageRank?  I haven’t quite gotten there, and I’m guessing that most of you haven’t either.  I don’t have the ability to sell private adspace to the great success that John has had.  Rather than sacrifice income, I’ll end up sticking with the commercial avenues for now.  Maybe one day, when all you readers out there have multiplied by a couple times.  But not now.  For now, we have to keep grinding away and remember that not every one can be a shooting star like John Chow or Mike Arrington.  Some of us have to climb our way up.