As plainly evident in my blog I am a heavy Flickr user and I have been so since May 2007. A vast majority of SL bloggers which includes content creators, reviewers, and the casual users depend on Flickr to host their pictures. Not only do we embed pictures in our blog many of us post them to Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, Tumbler, etc…. If we allow it other people can post links to our pictures also. We rely on those links to work indefinitely. Not only are the links important but all the meta-data carries useful information. Tags, groups, contact comments, groups, sets, collections, and so on further add value to our portfolios.

Now just  imagine you’ve had an account for the past 4 years and have thousands of images. All of them are tagged, organized and linked all over the internet. It represents your graphical work to the world. It’s your calling card, a visual history and resume of your talent. One day it disappears, completely. That just recently happened to a Mirco Wilhelm’s paid Flickr account. His Tumblr post can be read here. The Observer covers it here.

When Mr Wilhelm made the initial inquiry to Yahoo/Flickr he got this response:

Unfortunately, I have mixed up the accounts and accidentally deleted yours. I am terribly sorry for this grave error and hope that this mistake can be reconciled. Here is what I can do from here:

I can restore your account, although we will not be able to retrieve your photos. I know that there is a lot of history on your account-again, please accept my apology for my negligence. Once I restore your account, I will add four years of free Pro to make up for my error.

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

Again, I am deeply sorry for this mistake.

Ouch, just plain ouch. Why was it deleted? A few days prior he reported another account as having stolen images. Whoever was responsible for addressing copyright issues inadvertently deleted his instead. Now this is just plain wrong. In all my years of working with data-sets you never delete data until you’re sure it’s safe to do so. I am sure the person responsible for the deletion feels awful and no doubt she’ll have a lot answer for from her bosses but she is notfully to blame. Proper procedure wasn’t followed. You simply do not do that just in case accidents like this do not occur. Flickr did not have the proper safeguards in place to prevent the accidental deletion of content before the proper review was conducted.

As I type this blog post I have checked Mr Wilhelm’s Flickr account I see that it seems to be fully restored. It looks like he got their attention quick enough before the data could be over written. Takes this news as you may but let it serve a warning to you about the “Cloud”. While you may have a backup on your computer how will you fill all the gaping holes in the social media if it suddenly disappears from the host’s servers?


Straylight 4

An early Flickr pic from August 2007