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Flickr users screech as new Yahoo menu bar arrives

A pale menu showing links to assorted Yahoo properties has arrived atop Flickr, angering those who'd rather see photos. But Yahoo says its approach means a "wider audience" sees Flickr.

A Yahoo menu bar now appears above Flickr's own menu bar at the Yahoo photo-sharing site.
A Yahoo menu bar now appears above Flickr's own menu bar at the Yahoo photo-sharing site.
screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

For years, Flickr has been a largely independent Yahoo fiefdom, but apparently now it's time for the photo-sharing site to come closer to the corporate fold -- over some Flickr users' objections.

Last week, the company added a pale Yahoo menu bar above the dark Flickr menu bar atop the screen. The new menu bar presents Yahoo users with options for navigating to Yahoo sites for news, sports, finance, weather, and more, and at the far left side is a compact purple "Y!" logo.

Flickr users started complaining about the new menu bar immediately on Flickr's forums. "This takes up valuable real estate when I'm trying to view my Flickr account and photos. There's no obvious way to remove it," wrote Flickr user Swifty, launching a forum thread filled with loathing for the feature.

In some cases, the Yahoo and Flickr menu bars stay perched at the top of Flickr pages, though apparently with some browsers they disappear off the top of the page when a person scrolls down. In terms of color scheme, the Yahoo menu bar takes the opposite approach to the Google menu bar with white text on a dark background.

In a comment on the forum, Yahoo's Thea Lamkin explained Yahoo's rationale, saying more people will see photos with the change, and added that the company is listening to feedback.

"The idea is to make it easier to access other places in the Yahoo! network and make visiting Yahoo! pages a more seamless experience. This also lets your photos benefit from a wider audience," Lamkin said. Later, she added, there's no way to opt out.

Her explanation didn't convince skeptics.

"I think I speak for many of us when I say that I have absolutely no interest in accessing much of anything in the Yahoo! network, and this obtrusive, ugly pop-up doesn't exactly increase my interest in Yahoo! It smacks of desperation on Yahoo's part," added user Sinister Blue Note. "Successful companies don't rely on permaspam."

The change at Flickr move comes more than a month after Yahoo redesigned Flickr and overhauled premium pricing options.

"The look and feel here is about photos and being unbounded," said Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer of the Flickr changes. The new menu bar, though, shrinks the screen space for photos and introduces a bright element that doesn't match Flickr's darker scheme.

CNET contacted Yahoo for comment and will update this story with its response.

Yahoo also asked for feedback in April, when it began testing a Yahoo navigation bar on Flickr with a small group of users. A forum discussion about that move also generated nothing but opprobrium, such as the term crapbar, but apparently Yahoo overall liked what it saw.

The test has become a universal Flickr feature now, but some believe it's out of step with Flickr's new look. One such person is Flickr user jakerome:

The whole site has been redesigned so the chrome gets out of the way of the photos, and now Yahoo! has imposed an ugly purple bar across every photopage, discussion page, search page and so on, which draws the eye from the Awesome photos to the Yahoo! toolbar.

If you're not going to nuke it, for the love of Pete, change it to white text on a gray background.

The Flickr menu bar resembles one that appears on the front page as well as pages for mail, finance, weather, games, and more. Those sites, which bear prominent Yahoo logos on the main part of the Web page itself page, show a home icon in the upper left rather than the "Y!" logo that appears on Flickr.

Those other menu bars also feature a dedicated menu item for Flickr, presumably part of how Yahoo expects more people to see Flickr photos.

Next question: will Tumblr get the same navigation bar across the top?