The Right Way To Do It

I like Flickr more every time I go there. I like it so much I’m now paying for it just as soon as my PayPal echeque clears. As a rule I pay for nothing in life if I can possibly help it. This alone is a measure that they are doing the right thing.

And here’s one reason I like them even more. Today, in their news announcements, they said this:

” In our ongoing efforts to Make Flickr BetterTM, we’re introducing two additional limits: the new maximum number of contacts is 3,000 contacts (good luck with that), and each photo on Flickr can have a maximum of 75 tags.

We love your freedom, but, in this particular case, limiting these things will actually improve the system performance, making pages load faster across the site for everyone and cut out some unwelcome spammy behaviors. Both of these new limits apply equally to free and pro account members.”

This is the right way of doing system limits in my opinion. Far too often I am asked by developers when designing a system to impose some arbitrary limit on things like input fields or address book entries or whatever. Not only am I extremely reluctant to put a cramp on my users’ style (if you want to attach a 200Mb file to a blog post, you should be able to as long as it’s done right), but I am hardly ever given any convincing argument as to why such limits need to be imposed from a technical point of view. So I just refuse, and they think I’m insane.
Far better in my view – and obviously in Flickr’s – to eschew limits, or perhaps impose extremely high ones, and then modify these at a later date as (or if) the need arises. This of course implies some system architectural thinking in advance, but anyone I work with should be capable of that…