Farewell to the Flickr Module

Last month Squidoo abruptly retired the Flickr module because Flickr appeared to be blocking most of their images from loading on Squidoo lenses. Squidoo HQ and several lensmasters tried to get Flickr’s technical assistance on this with no success.

I’ll miss the Flickr module. It had some shortcomings but was an easy way to add good photos to lenses. It was also helpful in generating click outs and getting traffic from image searches.

I understand and agree with Squidoo’s decision to retire the module, but the way they did it was horribly executed. The retirement decision was announced on June 15 with no date given for when it would go away. The module disappeared from public view 3 days later. That doesn’t count as good advance warning for lensmasters to prepare and make changes before the module went away.

In the announcement, HQ said that, “When the module goes away there‚Äôs nothing you have to do. It will simply disappear from your lenses.” They got that half right, it did simply disappear. But there’s lots that this sudden disappearance required lensmasters to do if they were using the Flickr module.

Depending on how you used it, a disappearing Flickr module could mean anything from losing a few non-essential images to your lens morphing into an empty site because the bulk of your content went missing. For anyone that wrote text in their Flickr modules, this module retirement was devastating because that text also disappeared from your viewable lens and the sight of the search engines.

I had some lenses in that latter category. Worst hit were my tour an aircraft carrier, tour a battleship and sail a tall ship lenses. All of them used a Flickr module for nearly every ship featured. Each module had images and all of my written info for that ship in it. When the Flickr module disappeared, so did the content for those lenses.

Fortunately, I saw the announcement that the module was gone from view and was able to add Text modules and copy the content into them within a day of the Flickr modules disappearing. The lenses didn’t have many images, but at least the written content and links to the ships’ websites were available. If I’d been on vacation, those lenses would’ve been sunk.

Most of my Squidoo time over the last month has been spent fixing up existing lenses with Flickr modules instead of working on new lenses. I’m still in the slow process of finding, selecting, downloading, recording and uploading images to those text modules and updating other lenses that used Flickr images. Since Flickr’s image blocking also impacts images linked to in HTML code, I’m updating lenses that used that, too. (I mostly did that in Text List and Link List modules so I sent a feature request to HQ asking for the image upload functionality be added to those modules. Please do the same, hopefully they’ll add it if enough of us ask.)

What should Squidoo have done instead?

  1. Communicated the date when the module would be retired and no longer publicly viewable. This is one of the original Squidoo modules, used nearly 400,000 times according to the Add Modules tool. How could HQ not give lensmasters a date and time to prepare for its retirement? Makes no sense to me.
  2. Modified the module so that the images and their links wouldn’t display but the module’s text would still display. That would’ve given lensmasters time to adjust without taking away our content overnight. The module already had the ability to not display a selected image if it didn’t have an appropriate Creative Commons license. This filter could have easily been modified to not display all images.

This is a good reminder of why it’s important to back up your lens content (something I don’t do but should start). The wording of the June 18th announcement sounded like HQ considered deleting all of the content in the Flickr modules before they realized how many people had written content into them. That would have been disastrous.

Farewell, Flickr module, you’re already missed.

How did the Flickr module retirement affect your lenses? Are you still making changes because of it?

Image credit: simminch, used under Creative Commons.

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