Sometimes We Suck

We’d like to apologize. The last few weeks have been pretty brutal for the Flickr team. Switching hardware platforms on a live site with hundreds of moving parts that’s serving thousands of requests each second (literally) is hard. Unpleasantly hard.

Thankfully, only a very small percentage of you will have noticed any problems. Unfortunately, "a very small percentage of you" is now a pretty large number in absolute terms. That means that there were lots of people reporting problems – some small annoyances and some larger ones. And we were, at more than one point, really bad at keeping up with your reports, responding to them, and staying in communication about stuff that wasn’t working, stuff that was being worked on, and all of that.

And the breakdown wasn’t just in communicating with you. Our internal communication was overwhelmed by the volume and immediacy of work coming in. And that meant that we didn’t always catch things very quickly – in particular, we let one really annoying bug go unfixed for over a week without saying anything about it. That’s no good. And we’re sorry.

The Flickr team has always prided itself on responsiveness to the people using Flickr, on speed and agility, on innovation and the rapid evolution of Flickr itself and never stopping making things better. As we’ve gotten bigger, pulling that off in the same way we have in the past gets harder and harder. The goal is not unreachable – we just have to change our methods to get the same results. And we’re working on it :)

Dark at the beginning of the tunnel

And to those of you who have been patiently (or impatiently) waiting for more!, better!, faster! – it’s coming. Several major projects are underway: some of them just plain cool, some useful, some you’ll never see because they reach down to the guts and make the whole system Just Work, some which help other developers build stuff on top of Flickr, some which will help us take advantage of the Yahoo! machine and some just because we can’t resist making them.

And we’re also just about done sorting through an amazingly huge pile of post it notes, old wiki pages, spreadsheets,and whiteboards full of notes so we can clear out the Flickr backlog and prioritize the 10,001 things that we want to get done this year. The future is … going to continue to be hard. For us.

But for you it will be great. The next six weeks hold an unusually large number of significant changes, and so will the next six months and the next six years. Excelsior, Flickrverse!

And we are really, genuinely sorry for the times that we suck. We’re still learning

p.s. Comments are open. Tell it like it is..

Posted by Stewart Butterfield
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