The acquisition of the photo sharing site, Flickr, by Smugmug has set off some alarm bells around the world. I don't know how many users Flickr has, but I'm sure it is many millions. The site is popular with bloggers and forum users because photos posted there are easily linked to, and there are no limits on uploads, even for free accounts. How much of that scenario will remain the same is now clearly open to question.
Just to be on the safe side, I have downloaded all my pictures from Flickr. I doubt Smugmug would engage in the kind of venal extortion scheme that was seen at photobucket given the value of the Flickr user base. Given the lack of details available on the acquisition so far, however, a prudent course seems advisable. Of course, I do already have copies of the pictures I've stored on Flickr over the years, but tracking down specific examples through an assortment of hard drives and usb sticks can be a tedious affair. So, I have mirrored the Flickr albums as folders on my laptop, including ten subject folders and a big bunch devoted to my collection of old cameras and the photos each has made. The pictures I have put in the care of the site represent my best work over the past ten years, so much of the value of the collection resides in its organization, which Flickr has facilitated.
Yahoo, the previous owner, allowed the Flickr site to deteriorate in many ways since the 2005 take-over. Most of the discussion groups have fallen silent. A lack of any effective policy regarding Flickr groups formation has resulted in a counter-productive proliferation of groups which serve no useful function. For example, if you do a search for groups on the site using the term, "New Mexico", you will turn up about a hundred groups. What you will find in visiting them is that they all have the same content because there is no practical limit on the number of groups to which pictures can be posted.
In spite of the current condition of Flickr it is probably still the most useful community on the web for exhibiting your photos on line and for talking about any aspect of photography. I'm hopeful that the new owners will recognize that fact and build on it to realize Flickr's potential.